Combatting creative burnout

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Burnout: it’s every artist’s worst nightmare. Not knowing what to make and feeling exhausted is a common occurrence among artists, yet those with burnout often feel like they can never recover from it. Khushi Raj, a junior at Washington who does digital and traditional art in her free time, elaborates on this feeling. “I feel like when you’re burnt out, you expect your art to be ‘perfect,’” she says.  “When it isn’t, you completely lose motivation to even start drawing again, since there is always that frustration that you can’t get it done correctly the first time.” It’s a perpetual cycle that ends with the artist feeling completely void of any passion for art. 

So, how does one end up “burnt out”? It’s a difficult question to answer, but the root cause for most cases is losing sight of what made art enjoyable. Raj says,“I feel that burnout happens a lot when you’re forced to do art for classes. You can feel burnt out due to the general pressure of making something for that class.” The expectation in an art class is that one must make “good” art in the time the teacher provides for a “good” grade. The pressure of needing to make something “perfect” often discourages artists from pushing their boundaries and experimenting with new techniques, in fear that what they make could be unsatisfactory. Art classes may also require students to create art in a specific genre, hindering the creativity and autonomy of individual artists. Claire Rito, a mixed medium artist at Washington, also adds that burnout “…happens to a lot of artists online too, especially Webtoon artists. They’re constantly pumping out page after page, and it gets exhausting after a while.” Being in an art class and doing art as a career both force artists to make repetitive, homogenized art. A large factor in what makes art enjoyable is having the freedom to express yourself in a creative manner, so stripping this away can make artists lose sight of what made them love art in the first place.

Recovery can seem like a daunting task, but the answer is actually quite simple: take some time off. Rito explains: “I’ve found that when you try to force yourself to create more when it’s just not working, it creates this positive feedback loop where it just becomes harder to create because you’re thinking about it too hard.” Taking a break is a great way to alleviate project- related stress and generate ideas on what to improve on. Once it’s time to make art again, it can help to start with the basics. “I basically just doodle small things on my notebooks and my sketchbooks, or I watch simple drawing tutorials on YouTube and follow what they’re doing,” Raj says. “It gives me a little boost of confidence in my work and helps me get back into the momentum of drawing and creating my own art pieces.” 

Burnout is just another hurdle in the journey of being an artist. Sometimes, art is nearly impossible to make, and that’s completely okay. Taking a break and giving oneself room to breathe and improve is part of what makes someone a great artist, and it’s not something that anyone should feel guilty about. As Rito puts it, “When it comes to creating art, there are hills and valleys, and you just have to roll with it to get to where you want to be.”

Viswatha Pamidipati is a junior at Washington High School. She was born and raised in Wisconsin, and moved to Fremont when she was 12. She is a first year reporter for The Hatchet who is interested in discussing topics revolving around the local community and social issues, as well as the environment. In her free time, she loves to draw, bake, read, cook, and spend time with her family. She hopes to go into a career in STEM.

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