I have been in a little bit of creativity rut lately. Every artist face this issue at some point in their journey. It feels like my brain juice stopped flowing and I sit in front of my pottery wheel and not able to make anything. When I get like this, I always fall back to my book shelf and look for something to read. Here are 5 books that have helped me finding my creative spark.
I first read this book during my altMBA class in 2018 and it helped me understand how creativity works in your brain. One thing the book explains is that when you feel like your creativity is lacking, the best way is to do something unrelated, like going for a walk and let your brain wander.
In this fast-pace society where everything we do is measured in efficiencies, we are always chasing the "more". But this book gives me perspective that it's counter intuitive to push yourself to be more creative. You have to have free time and let your mind wander in order for the creative juice to be refilled. when I am trying to solve difficult problems or in a rut for a bit, the best solution will pop into my head when I am taking a shower, or going to the groceries.
I love that after reading this book, I feel free to create whatever I want. The book talks about how there is nothing new under the sun. The "new" idea you have is just accumulation of your experiences and knowledge. There are a lot of times when I see a great idea from other artists I want to try, I am afraid it is considered "stealing" but my friend Rebecca once said to me that really relieved me of all the worries. She said that ceramics is such an art where even if you tried to make an identical piece as someone else, you probably can't. So just go for it. And when I did, I realized I put my spin on things to make it mine and created something new.
Alice in Wonderland is one of my favorite stories as a child. The story is so unconstrained yet wonderfully philosophical. As a grown up, reading the story again gives me chuckles how wild and illogical the plot is. Anna Bond who's the creator of Rifle Paper Co. is one of my favorite artists and her style of illustration is like chicken soup for the eyes and souls! Whenever I feel stuck and not sure what to draw, I flip through her artwork and it gives me so many good but simple ideas.
Derek Sivers created a website called CD Baby back in the 90s (before all the music streaming service & iTunes are a thing) and he ended up selling it making $22 million and donated them to a music related foundation. But what impresses me the most about him is that he really is just an ordinary guy with extraordinary skills & thoughts. If you email him (email@example.com), he will always email back!! He has given me lots of great advice on traveling in New Zealand (randomly). Some of his thinking from this book are very unconventional (like he thought he needed to find & train his replacement at work before he resigns, and finishing college early), and they make me think about challenging the status quo and achieving what you want in life. Whenever I feel aimless and confused in life, I like picking up his books or his blog for inspiration.
Mateusz Urbanowicz is another extremely talented artist I look up to. His signature work is Tokyo Storefront which inspired me to draw the pottery studio I work out of (see bottom of page here). He recently published this book which includes scenery he hasn't published before. His skills in watercolor and color combination is always so soothing. He also has an awesome YouTube channel where you can see how he draws. It always humbles me knowing how much time it takes for him to draw one picture.
I love what I do with ceramics and illustrations, but inevitably, there are times that I feel drained from creation. These books are great company to help me refueling and relaxing.
What's something that helps you out of a creative rut?