Anxiety Making

Disclaimer: I use this blog to talk about my art practice, how I’m feeling, my struggles and my new insights, etc. Being open about your journey is the best way to grow (with art and also in life) so if I’ve touched on something that you relate to and you’d like to reach out to me in the comments section please do!

After you’ve been making art for a while you start to pick up on the trends in the way you’re thinking/working. I think many of us have heard some version of the saying that it takes around 10 unsuccessful artworks to make a successful one, but there’s more nuance to this that I want to delve into.

One thing I’ve noticed in my own practice are periods of time when I’m “anxiety making,’ that is, when I’m hurriedly creating objects so that I feel like something is being accomplished. Anxiety making is certainly better than feeling trapped or unable to move forward in the studio, but I still can’t help but feel like I’m missing something when I’m that place.

Anxiety making has no conclusion, it’s a state of in-between. Perhaps it’s a part of intuitive research, a section of the creative practice that one can’t escape, but here are some strategies that may help if you’re in the creative doldrums.

  1. Talk to people, and I don’t specifically mean about your art. Find a way to get out of your head by being interested in others. This can be as simple as going on a walk with a friend or being more attentive to others in the studio.

  2. Make time for research. This can be the scary one for some people but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re struggling with making research a part of your day set a timer on your phone (20 minutes minimum) and simply add as many articles, images, and resources that you can to a folder.

  3. Use the buddy system. The people around you are the most important resources in your life. Find a friend with similar goals and meet up semi-regularly to talk about new developments in your research, then listen to their developments.

I’m also interested in hearing your thoughts/strategies to get out of the anxiety making mode, if you have any tips or insights please feel free to comment below!


Paul Michael