I’ve talked quite often about how important pushing and challenging yourself is. So I decided to put together a “fun art challenges list” that you can refer to when you want to try something new and different or simply push out of your comfort zone a little bit.
This list is really for everyone regardless of experience level. I would say, however, that you should really do the challenges one at a time.
It’s good to push yourself to avoid artistic stagnation but at the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself completely by trying to do 5 at once. Absolute maximum you should be doing at any one time is 2 and I recommend 1.
Top 10 challenges to get your artistic wheels spinning
If you keep doing what you’re comfortable with, you’re just going to get yourself into a slump. I mean sure, you’re going to get extremely good at that one technique that you’re doing over and over again but you’re loosing originality with each piece.
I’m sure you’ve seen these “tips and tricks for inspiration” all over the place. It’s like there’s this mysterious grail that artists are looking for to inspire them into creating a masterpiece.
It’s as if they expect it to come up and bite them in the bum. Well unfortunately, that’s just not how it works. Being inspired is very much a lifestyle that needs to be practiced everyday. It’s all about the way you live, not about some secret you need to discover.
If you’re constantly pushing yourself to try new things, to learn new techniques, to mix and match things, you will always find new inspiration. And every single one of your works will be original!
Even something simple like taking you’re photographs while you’re on a trip – or even a walk – rather than in your studio can make a huge difference in how you think about your work. And you’ll naturally just get ideas because you’re out there being exposed to new situations.
THE worst thing you can do as an artist is get into a routine with your art – artistic minds just don’t thrive on that type of lifestyle! So here’s a list that will help you avoid that at all costs.
Art challenges list (with explanations!)
1) GET OUT of your usual creative space:
Whether there’s a trip you’re going on coming up, or a park nearby you’ve been been meaning to visit, bring your art materials along and stop somewhere to create. There’s some great art kits available such as this watercolor set designed specifically for travelling with!
I know this is nerve wracking for some artists because they don’t like to create in public so if that’s you, grit your teeth and push through. I don’t care how nervous it makes you, this is exactly the kind of stuff you NEED to be doing to get out of your comfort zone.
Plus it opens the door to opportunity. You’d be surprised how likely it is for someone to ask you about your work. All it takes is one right person to notice before you’ve got a huge opportunity on your hands.
2) Pick a new media and run with it:
I’ve mentioned this briefly in some of my other posts as well but a great way to shake things up is choosing a new media. Click here to check out training in various medias ranging from sketching to photography!
It really doesn’t matter what it is but one that I like recommending is digital art simply because it can actually come in handy if you’re ever trying to open your own website or anything. You’ll save money when it comes to designing your logo, and other similar necessities.
Another thing that’s great about digital art is that it’s a great way to i) edit photographs of your work or your work itself if you’re a photographer or ii) create base templates on which you can then create on.
And with technology the way it’s going, knowing the basics of digital art is a skill every artist needs to have under his or her belt at some point. I mean just look at the Wacom Intuos products like the Intuos Draw, or the new Apple Pencil that you can use with the Procreate software.
It’s amazing what you can do using just a tablet! It’s like having all of Curry’s at your fingertips.
3) Create a thematic collection:
Some of you might have already done this, in which case you should try and look for a theme that’s far out of your comfort zone. If you usually choose city-ish stuff, try the countryside. If you usually focus on dark emotional vibes, try light and happy.
One thing that I find suprisingly few artists have done is create a color spread or an effect spread. You know how in photoshop or other editing softwares, you can choose different effects to add to your photos such as like sepia or black and white or blue tint or whatever. You can also choose “paint stroke” and “sketch” and stuff.
Well choose a set of like 5 of these effects that relate to each other. For example, blue tint, brush stroke and sepia aren’t related to each other but blue tint, red tint and yellow tint are.
So basically, you’re creating a collection of work based on a common style where each piece has something like it’s own color tint, it’s own styling effect or it’s own shading.
I find these work very well when you also keep the underlying message of the work the same. You can even use exactly the same image or different components of one image for the different works.
Just get creative!
4) Base your next work off poetry or a quote:
Some artists simply focus on pure artistic skill. But I don’t want this to be you because this isn’t enough to really stand out.
Plus if you’re trying to create masterpieces, then you can’t just have the skill – you have to also have more. Go the extra mile so to speak. What I’m talking about is adding emotion to your work.
You should be able to evoke emotions in the people who see your next piece. And once you’re able to do this, then you should be able to do it for a wide variety of emotions. Not all your work should be dark and morbid but it also shouldn’t all be light and carefree.
You and your audience are human, which means you’re complex and you have the ability to experience a wide variety of emotions – not just one or two.
You even have the ability to experience several emotions at once. Now if you can intertwine more than one emotion at once into your work, you’ve got a huge edge on virtually 99% of other artists.
So to really challenge you, I want to to choose a piece of poetry or a quote from somewhere. It can be from anywhere – a book, a movie, an interview with someone you admire. It doens’t matter.
All that matters is that it evokes a lot of feeling. Then I want you to create a work that really portrays the emotion(s) in that poetic excerpt or quote.
You can ask people to tell you how they feel when they look at your finish product and see if it matches up! If not, it’s not a big deal – different people react differently to artwork and that’s the beauty of it!
As long as they have some type of emotional reaction, that’s what’s important.
5) Incorporate an interesting material in your next work:
Pick some type of interesting material. It can really be anything. Some quick ideas are tin foil, velvet or silk. You want to choose something that’s interesting and has some kind of texture to it that you can take advantage of.
Now I want you to incorporate that into your next work. If you’re a photographer, then include it in your shots. If you’re sketch artist, then glue it down and sketch around it. Or sketch and then glue it down.
It doens’t really matter how it’s incorporated – just that it is. For instance you can use it as part of your artwork or you can use it to frame your artwork or you can use it as you’re canvas!
There’s no right or wrong here. As long as you’re pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and trying something new – you’re doing it right!
6) Choose an era you’re uncomfortable with:
If you’re ever taken art history – which you probably have – then you know that art has evolved a lot over time. From Ancient Greek and Roman art to Modern Art and everything in between, you’re probably not used to working with certain eras of artwork.
So this is your chance!
Choose a style of art that you’ve never done before. Even if you’re a photographer – you can easily adopt a different style. You can even borrow an older camera if you want!
Now you don’t only have to move backwards in time. If you like classical painting for instance, try modern! Maybe channel Picasso for the day?
7) Work at a different time of day/night:
You might be a morning person or a night owl. If you’re staying up until the wee hours of the morning trying to finish your piece and then struggling to drag your bum out of best the next morning, then I want you to try something crazy – working in the morning! And vice versa.
I want you to switch up your schedule and work at a time when you’ve never worked before. I know this might be painful but it’s good for you!
As a side note, you’re the most in touch with your subconscious for the first few hours in the morning after you’ve woken up. Just saying – it might be a good time for inspiration?
8) Ask your significant other to be your subject:
If you aren’t in a relationship right now but just “seeing people” that’s fine! Just ask whoever it is that you’re seeing.
The reason I want this to be someone you’ve slept with or plan to sleep with is that it will push you the furthest out of your comfort zone if they are partially or fully naked.
I know – so scandalous!
But as an artist, the atmosphere will charge your creativity. Even though you might be extremely nervous, you really need to push past these types of barriers in order to access further depths of creativity.
If you are just too incredibly uncomfortable with this or you aren’t seeing anyone at all at the moment, then just ask a friend. In this case they would be clothed!
But try and work your way up to doing some artwork based on a nude subject. It will just add a new dimension to your artistic skill set and to you as an artist.
9) Research and create a line of products to sell:
I know this one is a little weird but this type of entrepreneurial mindset is something that’s a huge asset to artists. If you are seriously interested in starting your own brand/business, then click here to read more about “artrepreneuring.”
You could create a line of t-shirt designs. You could create a package of digital paper and designs. You could create a line of journals bound by a nature photograph spread taken by you. You could design those motivational prints people like to hang in their kitchens.
There’s really a million things you could do. It’s up to you to pick an idea and then if you become really passionate about it – you can carry it forward! You can always e-mail us for help if you’re not sure where to get started.
10) Use someone as your canvas:
This is a tough one because it requires you convincing someone to let you draw on them. If you find this tough, then you can always start by drawing on yourself.
There’s that video that was around on Instagram a few months ago of an artist that imitated the Mona Lisa in great detail right on her face. It’s now up on Youtube also:
If you’re a digital artist or a photographer, I’m going to leave this one loose and give you a chance to be creative. It’s up to you to figure out a way you could do this without actually being able to directly paint or draw on someone.
Don’t be afraid to expand on these & brainstorm
As I just said, you need to start thinking to get creative! Think of other things like this that you could do.
Whenever you’re starting to feel like you’ve been doing the same thing for too long, switch it up and try something new. There’s no shortage of things that you can challenge yourself with.
I mean for starters, there’s plenty of different medias you can try. But even on a very small scale – just trying a new shading technique or trying to implement spongeing for the first time is a great start.
Asking other artists some cool stuff they like doing is also a great way to help you get creative.
Never ever stop pushing & keep us updated!
Being an expert at one thing and one thing only is an outdated way of thinking and it’s also no fun. It’s much better to be an expert at creativity and at the inspiration of others.
Try to master being an artist as opposted to mastering the classical painting of fruit bowls!
We would really love to see what you guys have been able to come up with for these challenges. Definitely e-mail them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature them on our social media and our site for you. Also feel free to share other ideas with us and I can post them up here and cite you in them.
You can also just comment below! New challenge ideas or any questions that you have are welcome. 🙂