When we’re lost for ideas, we tend to sit and wallow. At least, this is what I see with most of the artists I work with. And I do it too. We sit around feeling bad about being blocked and hoping we’ll magically get unblocked.
You know all those posts about ways to jumpstart your creativity?
This isn’t one of them.
I want to talk about using trends in your work. Typically, I find artists are the most successful when they create what they want to create. But sometimes a prompt or slight restriction suddenly brings on a flow of creativity. And the best way to do this, of course, is to use a prompt that you know would be popular with your audience or gain you new levels of attention.
When you use a current trend as a prompt, you open yourself up to a lot more press opportunities, even if your customers wouldn’t be particularly excited about that trendy topic.
As long as it doesn’t put off your target market, it can be a win on every side of things.
Of course the most common one artists have used for centuries is politics. But you don’t have to do something controversial to be trendy.
Every year Pantone, the authority on color, releases a “Color of the Year” that surges in popularity from Pinterest to the runway and beyond. And every year plenty of businesses and bloggers release Trend Reports detailing patterns, subject matter, colors, and styles that are going to popular in the mass-market world. Remember when everyone was “putting a bird on it”?
So you can use this information to give yourself a requirement, usually prompting a slew of ideas and resulting in a piece that can get a lot of attention because it capitalizes on something timely.
I recommend only working with one trendy topic at a time.
Too many and you’re more likely to create a cheesy piece or something that is obviously playing into the trends. You don’t want to be too obvious about it or it will feel sleazy to people.
And once you’ve finished the piece, you really want to take advantage of the trendiness of it by sharing it a lot on social media. Use less of a sales tone and more of a discussion tone if you can. It’s better to post a question like, “What do you think?” or “Which colors should I use next?”
And don’t forget to seek out those press opportunities. They are incredibly important to your marketing strategy and there’s never a better time than when you’ve got something trendy to talk about in the media.
If you’re not into trends, another way to ensure you’re creating something people will talk about is to riff on someone else’s idea.
You have to do this carefully or it will feel like stealing.
While Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal,” I think it only works if it becomes very uniquely yours. So you need to have a decent idea of your own style and stick to that when you’re riffing off of someone else’s work (so it doesn’t become ripping off someone else’s work). To do this, it helps to take only one little piece of what they’ve done and then do it your way.
So try to pick the piece of their art that is the most timely or popular. Think about why this art got attention or what people have said about it and try to take that little piece and run with it in your own style.
You can also rework one of your own past ideas.
This works especially well if you’ve been creating for awhile because you have lots of old art that you would do very differently now that you’ve grown as an artist. Take some time to flow with that old concept, especially if it’s a trending topic.