How to keep yourself motivated

  • Inspiration

    The best way to stay motivated is to be inspired. There are so many sources of inspiration - nice movies, TV series or books, music, stories / poems, characters you like, pretty landscapes, animals, friends, artwork by other people, situations you experienced yourself... When something inspires me, possible picture ideas come to me almost from alone.

  • Set your own goals - be reasonable

    It is always important to improve and to set personal goals. If you're not seeking challenges, you're not going to improve. However, choose your goals reasonably. Achieving a goal brings the nice feeling of success and motivation. Failing to reach a goal brings the opposite, frustration and disappointment. Don't choose goals that you don't have an influence on or that are too unrealistic to reach, because this will likely end in disappointment.

    For example, don't make plans/resolutions like "I'll get 1000 followers this year" or "I will win a prize in this art show". No matter how hard you try, there are so many factors that you don't have an influence on, and it can easily happen that you won't reach these goals (although you didn't do anything wrong - you may still feel like you "failed"). Also, rather than planning to "draw every single day", plan something smaller, like doing at least one sketch per week, or to fill a sketch book over the year, or to work on human anatomy this year. Make reasonable goals (also several smaller ones) that you can actually achieve. Every success will add to your motivation, while every disappointment / feeling of "failure" will badly impact it.

  • Don't compare

    It is great to have goals, and idols that you admire, that inspire you, that you want to learn from. It's great to admire styles, and the wish to "draw that level of art one day". However, don't compare yourself with other artists. There will always be artists better than you, drawing for a longer time than you, having more time to draw/improve than you... There are so many different factors.

    Don't ask yourself - why does that artist get more favorites or watchers than me? Don't ask yourself what you're doing "wrong" when you compare yourself to others who are more popular. Ask yourself, what are your personal goals, where do you want to take your art, what would you like to learn or improve, what do you enjoy doing?

    Especially beginner artists may sometimes think "I will never be able to draw like that artist". Never forget that everybody started small, and that most artists took a lot of pratice and time to get where they are now. Great art should always be a motivation and inspiration, rather than disappointment because you haven't reached that level yet.

  • Be yourself

    I personally think it shows in a picture if an artist is doing his work from the heart, or with different motivations (like - this will bring the most money, this is popular/trend and people expect me to draw it). If you're drawing something but don't really enjoy it, then you should ask yourself why are you doing it. I am mostly talking about personal art / art for art shows here, as professional commissions (artists who are drawing for a living) are a very different topic.

  • The right place/ambiance

    For me, drawing is not only a technical thing, but also a matter of feeling, so my work place is very important to me. When spending a lot of time drawing, take the time to make yourself comfortable. Make sure you have a good chair to sit on (to prevent health issues like back pain), find out what makes working even more enjoyable - inspiring artwork/references on your wall, equipment that is fun to work with, a nice cup of tea or coffee, plants, some music in the background... Find out what adds to your creativity.

  • Rewards

    Everybody likes rewards, not only animals. So especially when you're working on a bigger or maybe difficult project, reward yourself with something nice after you finished it. This may be a nice dinner, your favorite snack, ice cream or a nice massage. Whatever you enjoy - knowing this will wait for you when you finish this project will give you motivation to do it.

  • Variety - try new things

    When you are always drawing the same things or style, this may end in a lack of motivation at some point, as it's hard to improve or artistically challenge your mind. There is such a variety of material to work with - dare to try something new. If you're a digital artist, try to work with real media or maybe sculpting. By trying something new, you will learn from that challenge. The same goes for the things that you draw of course, for example don't just always draw pinups - draw dynamic poses.

  • Art Block

    Art Block... every artist experienced it at some point. No matter what you try, it feels like you can't draw anymore, everything you being just fails and all creativity seems blocked. Don't worry, this happens to other artists as well, and it will go away again. You will have to find out what helps you best to get rid of it, so here are just a few suggestions what you can try:

    • Take a break - don't put too much pressure on yourself. Some things cannot be forced. Get some rest, treat yourself well with some nice things, and try again when you feel better.
    • Draw something for yourself - no pressure, no deadline, no requirements, just something for you that you personally enjoy.
    • Take a look at artwork you did before and that you liked. You ARE able to create great art, and it's nothing you suddenly lost.
    • Inspiration can be a cure for an art block. As mentioned above, look at things that inspire and give you motivation. Often that already brings back the "flow".
    • Variety / Challenges - maybe you're just stuck and don't feel challenged enough any more. Try something new! As listed above, some people regain motivation by taking new challenges, learning something new or improving.
    • Reconsider your goals - maybe you put too high demands on yourself. If you felt a lot of "failure" and disappointment recently, check your goals again, if they were actually reasonable (as explained above). Avoid disappointment and make smaller goals that you can (easily) achieve. This might bring you back to a more positive feeling.
    • Look at works in progress - it sometimes helps to look at works in progress (WIP), pictures that show step-by-step how an artist did a picture. It's not only highly interesting and educational, it also shows you the effort and time a picture takes. Especially if you have the feeling that you will 'never be able to do such a picture (again)' - yes, you can. Don't be impatient, don't rush it, take your time.