He says: “Shooting the documentary was a life-changer. Seeing how creative and innovative the kids in the slums were who had next to nothing is one creative touch point I took away.”
Other artists find their creative challenges somewhat closer to home: Julia Scheele says that she constantly sets herself briefs or invites her friends to do so, Matt Lyon designs screen prints, forcing himself to work within close restrictions, while Dan Matutina set about interpreting his friends’ Facebook status messages in geometric shapes for his Status & Shapes project.
Numerous blogs, sites and competitions invite themed work (such as Terrible Yellow Eyes, which called for art based on Where The Wild Things Are; terribleyelloweyes.com), or for certain uses, such as Kitsune Noir’s Desktop Wallpaper Project (kitsunenoir.com/dwp) – offering useful constraints that could help kick-start your ideas.
One guaranteed way to shake up your creative mojo and put your skills to the test is to collaborate with other artists. Teaming up can be particularly useful to professional illustrators, especially those just starting out, offering the chance to promote yourself alongside other talents.
Tiptoe Collective’s (tiptoecollective.co.uk) members – Ian Caulkett, Mark Whittle and James Nicholls – banded together when they graduated, to share the cost of studio space, but also for moral support. “After graduation it is intimidating to go out into the world on your own,” they say.