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12 Ways to Motivate an Artist

We all need a little push now and then so I put together this list of tips that have helped me stay motivated and perhaps they can help someone else too...

1. Show Up: This is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your productivity in the studio. Get in there. Even if you are just making phone calls, sorting out your brushes or organizing your supplies. Simply spending time in your studio will get you into the habit of creating. Daily time spent in your studio will improve your productivity.

2. Set Goals: Set goals for yourself and break them down into smaller categories: Long Range, Short Term and Immediate. Example: I am going to paint 5 pieces this month, 2 paintings this week and prep 1 panel this afternoon.

3. Dress the Part: Put on your favorite work clothes for motivation. I have a great pair of funky old shoes (see photo) a beautiful scarf and a paint-encrusted smock that make me feel super creative the moment I slip them on. Discover your power outfit and wear it when you need some extra motivation.

These are my favorite shoes to work in.

4. Connect with Community: Join an online forum and leave comments. Create or join a local chapter for artists in your area and meet once a month to discuss your progress and share resources. Start a blog and invite people to share their comments. Connecting with others will keep you going.

5. Make Yourself Accountable: Tell someone what you are working towards and share your progress with them. Enlist their help to keep you on track. Knowing that someone is waiting to see your results can help maintain your momentum.

6. Lower Your Expectations: Not everything you create will be a masterpiece so allow yourself some time to make the experimental work and rough pieces that will inform your next masterpiece.

7. Open Your Studio: Invite a guest or the whole neighborhood to visit your studio. This will help you to get things organized and asses the amount of work you have ready to display.

8. Apply for Calls: Nothing like a deadline to get you motivated so apply for juried shows and art opportunities and create new work to submit. Even if you don’t get accepted the exercise of assessing your work is invaluable. Here are a few links to organizations that post National Calls For Art and other art opportunities: Art , Washington State Arts Commission and National Calls For Entry

9. Take a Class: Sign up for a creative class or workshop. I prefer workshops because they tend to be condensed and intense. This will help you plug into your arts community and connect with like minded folks. It’s easy to comeback to your studio and continue working if you are already in the zone and dressed for the occasion. Arrange to meet with other students after the class.

10. Host an Art Exchange: Throw an art exchange party – Invite guests to bring a small piece of original art in a plain brown wrapper to swap with other guests. When you know your work will be judged by your peers it can motivate you to up your game.

Plain paper wrapping helps hide the identity of each artist.

11. Trade Critiques: Swap critiques with another artist. Share your work and use the feedback you receive to propel your work forward. Make changes and submit the new work for additional feedback – The exchange of ideas will help you stay focused and energized.

12. Give Yourself Permission: This is the most important tip of all...Don’t let other work or a looming deadline trap you into paralysis. The dishes, the laundry and the shopping can wait. Schedule time to be in the studio and give yourself permission to be there.

Looking for more ways to get inspired? Here are a few great sources for more inspiration: 

An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

To learn more about Alicia Tormey visit and Alicia Tormey on Facebook

If you have other tips for getting motivated please feel free to share them here. I will post some tips on finding inspiration in the coming weeks. Cheers!


Wiele said…
I am pleasantly surprised yo see your stuff on this blog, I mean encaustic, that's special. years ago i read something about it, something with wax and pigments and melting... that was a big mess in my kitchen, encaustic is still a mystery to me. But you got it going on!
Thanks for the tips in this post. I am working a bit with the book "The artist's way". Pretty intens, but i think i changes 'cause of it. now a want to paint daily, and i'm doing it for week. OK that doesn't proof anything.
Keep the work going Alicia!
K Spoering said…
Oh, I like your birds, too! And love the paper doll - that's also one of my 'things'! All of your work is so creative... clearly you follow your own advise! Way to go!
Isabelle said…
Hi Alicia,

Thank you for your comment, I am glad I got to discover your work in return.
Can't wait to see more!
Anonymous said…
Great post. And just in the nick of time, I might add.
Amy Crawley said…
Hi Alicia,

I couldn't agree more with what you said. Getting into the studio, having a support network, verbalizing goals are all ways to keep the muse alive.

I might also add carrying a small notebook or journal to jot down ideas. Put one in your handbag, the studio, the bedroom; you never know when inspiration will strike.

I also think it is important to acknowledge our small successes as well as the big ones. (e.g. Pat yourself on the back when you send in the show application.) Thinking about all the small things we do can also be very motivating.

Great post!

Debrasdezinez said…
This was a supper post ! I really needed to read this one sometimes I get really frustrated because I don't allow myself enough craft time because life gets in the way. BUT ! I am learning to let go and giving myself permission to let the dishes wait or that load of laundry to sit until I am ready to do it! I loved reading this post please do this more often !
Thank You !!
Patti said…
Wow, thanks to Leah (Creative Every Day) for posting a link to this article. I heard somewhere that the universe sends us what we need of we're open...
Thanks for all the ideas, they're so right on! I know as soon as I get some kind of studio or area when I can actually WORK, I'll do a lot more. Right now, I just have to work where I am in my tiny room and then put everything away when I'm finished. Which is not motivating and inspirational.
Jul said…
Great list! And I love the shoes. You're definitely making me re-think my studio outfit.

(Found you via Leah)
Cherry said…
I was feeling decidedly uninspired and a bit miserable, as a result, but stumbled upon your 'how to inspire...' list. Thank You! Made me feel much better xxx
Alicia Tormey said…
Cherry - Glad you found some inspiration here! Thank you for commenting!
Unknown said…
Thank you for these practical, helpful ideas. It's definitely a struggle to find time and space to be creative. After reading your post, I'm motivated to start with taking a class, setting goals, dressing the part, and continuing to organize a functional studio!
Thank you !! Very use full, I'm a small town artist from moses lake , Was. & needed to get my butt back into my chubby size studio & start charcoaling & painting
Alexandra Orton said…
Thank you so much for these fresh ideas. I am going to try and tackle #2 & #3 today...#7 this year and I think #10 is a fabulous idea. This is definitely an article I am going to share!
JQ said…
Loved reading this. I was doing so well with pursuing my art, and since my new job has consumed a good majority of my time, it has been hard to motivate myself to keep it up. Thanks for the motivation and helpful tips!
Cheryl said…
Really good motivation. Especially "show up" and "dress the part". Love some of the others too!
Great post! I really love the swap idea with the brown wrapping paper- I might try that with a class as well!
Anonymous said…
very helpful, thanks, found you via Pinterest.
student painter doing a degree.
Sarah Treanor said…
So happy to have found your blog, I've been enjoying your work since I first took up encaustic last year. I love the list. #3 was my favorite… I had never thought of wearing something that makes me feel creative to get in the mood. I'm definitely going to be trying that!

Thanks Alicia!
Sara Paxton said…
Your points are fantastic, I especially agree with the take a class point. When I get to the point where I am lost and don't know what to do, learning something or meeting someone new is always a great reset button.

Another artist motivation tip I would have is to take a break from your art, just a few days off can really help you reset and get a new mindset on a painting.

Thanks for sharing,
M.E.Mitchell said…
Your work inspires, and your blog is encouraging. Hope to begin encaustic work in 2015. Please keep us posted about your workshops. I live in South Carolina...will stay tuned!
Illie said…
I love this post - I'm taking # 6 & 12 to heart, thank you Alicia!