• Ivna Lins

How to Generate Ideas - Not Satisfied With my Art - Part 5

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

Part 5 - How to Generate Ideas

Wait up, "Art" activities could go from Chopin's symphonies to creating memes, so let me make it clear that this is a series focused on drawing and painting. If you missed part 1, the introduction, click here!

So.. this magic treasure box of unlimited connections, called "brain"... would it be possible for it to give you precious ideas, whenever you feel like? The million dollar question, huh? Everybody wants to be pretty instantaneous when it comes to having ideas.But in reality, it works more like a garden.. you bring in some seeds, plant them, take care, you cultivate it, water a lot, throw in some fertilizer when the time is right, make sure there are plenty of pollinators... for then to pick up some cute colorful flowers. But how do we take care of this garden?

The reason why it is a million dollar question is because there is no general rule. Everybody feels it differently. Even when people advise the famous "go outside, explore"... it happens that this kind of advice crushes introverts hearts, we feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable if we spend too much time outside, and often it takes a lot to recharge from an outing. That's why the ultimate lesson we can always learn is.. to better understand ourselves. It's not always that the big sayings are gonna apply to us, and many of them contradict themselves. You gotta have a lot of patience and self compassion to be brave enough to go against these expressions that seem "set in stone", but I believe we need to. Let's take a closer look to why.


Just like understanding "the things we like", as we discussed on the previous part of the series, being able to have new ideas comes from the same part of that universe. We tend to think we're processing so much information from all that we see around us all the time, but that's not exactly true, as, for example, the famous experiment of the Invisible Gorilla shows. Our brains are focused on smaller parts of situations, and try to make the most out of it. It focuses on one tiny part of the surrounding, and that's what it reeeally pays attention to. The rest gets mashed up on this big blurred ball of "meh, I don't really remember, was it even there?", and a small part goes to our subconscious. If you don't really agree, we can always try it for ourselves.. like watching a youtube video with somebody talking in it, while we read the comments - it's impossible! We either focus on listening to the person talking or focus on reading and understanding the comment. We think we are multi-tasking all the time, and that we are doubling our productivity with that, but in reality we are shifting our attention multiple times, which actually causes us to delay all the tasks we are doing at the same time. We can still do them, but each one is gonna take longer compared to focusing on tackling one by one.

So in the grand scheme of things, we have our active thoughts, the ones we choose to think, we have the subconscious ones, those we were in contact with at some point, but passively, and we have another group - the unknowns, the things that we are not considering, because we don't know of. When we try to "have an idea", what we're doing is we're actively trying to connect dots of information from the two pools we can draw from, the conscious and the unconscious. We try to start thinking about something, and that creates a web of other thoughts, that end up bringing more information from the subconscious. A new idea happens when we generate a new combination that we haven't seen yet. It could be because we haven't crossed it yet (unknown unknown), therefore we don't know of its existence, or because we truly made a connection nobody has made yet!

Since it's a very abstract definition, let's bring an example! If we consume one type of media, or art, let's say illustration, and with a specific illustration style.. we're only allowing our brain to connect that illustration style with that same illustration style. Now if we branch out to movies, fashion, photography, sports, video games and outdoor activities, the pool of dots to line up differently is not only gonna be richer but also beautifully authentic, for the diversity of resources. That's what you want to do! That's a beautiful garden with all sorts of trees, bushes, fern, moss, grass and flowers!


You probably already have many seeds planted in your creative garden as of right now. Maybe you're watering just one of them, maybe you've forgotten to expose some to the sun, or maybe didn't even realize some need to change their pots. Am I having too much fun with this garden comparison? Nah, you can never have too much fun with green buddies. So a great way to start is simply.. taking a look at the whole picture. Checking where is your attention going, and what might need some tweaking. The best part is that, unlike real gardens and plants, you don't need to buy any supplies nor feel bad during winter for decreased light-time. You can start right away! Let's do this!

Growing up, how did you spend your "me time"? Did you have a diary? Did you secretly write about your crush on your notebooks during class? What about now? Do you have a planner? A Bullet Journal? Do you like to talk to yourself in the shower? These are times where we are usually checking in with ourselves, and your task now is to.. be very aware of what goes on in your mind. Of what goes on in your day. In your week. To see where your time goes. Remember we talked about being conscious about where the things that attract you come from? Now is the time to see what you're doing while that happens.

Grab your notebook, start writing down what you do with your chunks of time. Netflix, youtube, any sort of entertainment, homework, school stuff, studying for exams, classes, sports, going out with your friends, loved ones, anything. Where is your time going? Do you have a really good idea of "you"? What are your favorite words, adjectives, objects? If you had to be associated with something, what would you want it to be? You can write lists, sentences, paragraphs. But try to return to words and simple "bags" of things you can grab from. Now imagine you mixing and matching things on those lists. That's you, creating your own ideas. Remember how we did the frankenstein monster with the character in part 4? This is our "idea monster" now, with the same principle! You can also be more direct and literally write ideas of things you'd like to do, from very generic to very specific. Try not to be judgmental, you're just getting to know your brain, what makes it happy and what it longs for!


When we're inspired, it's usually because of one sort of "specific thing", maybe something you've seen or experienced. But your idea has to come from multiple places. If you're inspired by a movie and decide to make a movie, you have to have your own general story, plot, characters, actors, style, genre, look, crew and all that. Coming from your various sources, not from that movie that you watched and inspired you. If you were to share too many elements, your movie would be just too similar to the one you were inspired by, therefore it wouldn't really stick out. It's only by adding your own spices (the things you like) that you unleash this unique vision of your own.

So we just brainstorm.. forever?

Practice makes perfect, right? It's no different for finding new ideas. This weird deep life-analysis is because we're kick starting something in you. We're trying to get you aware of things that already going on, but we're kinda oblivious to. Once we get that awareness going, it becomes more natural and easier to match things, to be inspired but add something "yours" to it, and you'll understand how it works for you, what is the best way to keep those "pools" of interests. You'll stick to what is most comfortable, and rinse and repeat.

Let's compare it some more...

We can also think of it all as a library! Imagine if you have to do some research for that geography paper, and all you have is one little encyclopedia that has one or two paragraphs on the pyramids. How could you ever build 3 pages around that with not much information to begin with?? We must look for other books, articles, other encyclopedias, previous works, documentaries, movies, pictures.. The more we have to draw from, the richer we can create an output.

Another great idea is the "Creative Bank Account", that revolves around "having to deposit many many times before you want to withdraw". Creative output is really really limited by the creative input.


Yep, it's your turn! There is not much the world can do for you but try to inspire you, which is a huuuge beautiful deal already <3 So take it, give it a big hug, and find your true resources for creative input, by getting to know this side of what makes your artsy heart pump. When you do, add to your inspiration as much as you can, creating the most beautiful connections of things you like! There's no way you're not gonna love it :)

Thank you so much for reading!

Not Satisfied With my Art:

Part 1 - Why Can't I Draw (intro)

Part 2 - How to Study Art

Part 3 - Understanding Motivation

Part 4 - How to Practice (and Find a Style)

Part 5 - How to Generate Ideas

Part 6 - How to Develop my Projects (Managing, Organizing)

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