February 01, 2016


Advice + Projects from 50 Successful Artists






CREATIVE BLOCK by Danielle Krysa

This book was written by Danielle Krysa, an art director and artist based in BC, who’s also widely known in the online world as the Jealous Curator. Her blog is on my list of daily reads, and her weekly podcast series called “Art for your Ear” has become a weekly obsession.

Known for her frank conversations around the oft un-talked about parts of making art – namely the crushing fears and creative block experienced by many on at least some part of their journey as an artist, her book “Creative Block” sets out to demystify the ins and outs of creative inspiration.

I love that this book was inspired by her own feeling of being the only person having creative fears and feeling blocked. Many of us can relate, and even more so when you hear about the awful confidence busting experiences Danielle had at art school. This is something that I definitely relate to, and it’s taken me so many years to get over some of the ideas that were imprinted on me as a young person. If you have teenagers in your life who love art, this could be a life-changing gift!

We live in a world where art is continually being forced out of schools at the same time it’s acknowledged that creativity and critical thinking are really the pillars of the modern world, necessary to get us past some of the significant global problems we face. As someone with both a business and an art education, I can attest to the fact that I was far more challenged and inspired to original thinking in Art History class (Art and Freedom in Quattrocento Florence by Frederick Hartt anyone?) than I ever was in economics. What making and studying art does is provide a lens and a language to view the world with – through it you can analyze cultural histories, economics and science all via aesthetic output. And that my friends, is a powerful thing, no matter what you end up becoming in life.

So in pursuit of creative living, which so many of us clearly crave, “Creative Block” offers up a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the experiences of some really fantastic successful artists along with some of the exercises that they use to combat creative blocks.

A couple of my favorite artists are Jessica Bell (whose work I must confess to Internet stalking since before her MFA) – an initially self taught artist who recently finished her MFA and calls her inner critic “a total jerk” and Fiona Ackerman who has some of the best advice…

It is extremely important and courageous to dare to keep challenging yourself-
perhaps more so in the face of success rather than failure.

There’s a whole raft of unblock projects – something for everyone and there are some great ones from Mary Kate McDevitt who proposes a 30-day hand lettering challenge and Anthony Zininos who just says "Go to a thrift store & buy an old magazine and an old book. Cut them up and make 5 new collages". Simple! And if you get stuck just remember the words of Kristi Malakoff…

There will be a point in every project where I decide that my idea is
absolutely stupid…. It’s just pure will power that gets me through these moments.

 So keep going! You’re not alone, Michaelangelo didn’t wake up one day and paint the Sistine Chapel – he worked every day at his craft… We can all overcome insecurities big and small to live more fulfilled creative lives, and what could be more inspiring than that?

I got my copy from my local library (thanks Vancouver Public Library, you rock) so you could look for a copy at yours, go online and buy the book or there’s even a Kindle version! Do it – you won’t be sorry... And if you want to see some artwork and links to artists in the book check out the Pinterest Board.




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