The following is written by Karen Shidlo of Jester Jacques Gallery. Frequent readers may remember Karen from her helpful article: How to Approach an Art Gallery


inspiration for art making


As a painting student at Pratt Institute in New York, I was very stressed out. Even though I was very creative and inspired by my surroundings, the library and my peers, the competitiveness and pressure to produce art was, at times, overwhelming.

By my last semester at art school, I had developed some pretty fun and crazy ways to refresh my creative side. So here goes, I am sharing with you my TOP 5 TIPS (feel free to share yours in the comments below)!


Turn on the TV!

tv inspirationI know it sounds strange, but we are so inundated with imagery these days (internet, magazines, billboards, shops, etc.) that we often miss what is right under our noses.

Anything from the visuals you see on your television screen to the content (in the news, for example) can inspire you; you just need to be open minded!


If you see a certain advertisement you like because of the characters or logo used, look them up! If a news story (political, national, international) grabs your attention, read up on it and use it a starting point.



Rip Up Cardboard!

Peel back the layers and find the corrugated textures. You can even collage the various bits together using clear tape. Then, take a roller for lino/ wood cut printing and roll some heavy black ink on your various cardboard pieces. Print onto paper (even scrap paper). The results are always unexpected and surprising. Whether you like abstraction or not, just experimenting and creating various textures is a wonderful eye opener to new ideas.


Look up local (non-art related events) and go to one that takes your fancy!

I’ve always said that being an artist is particularly hard because you have to have other interests (otherwise, what will you paint/draw/sculpt?!). If you ever feel stuck, why not go to a local event which puts you out of your comfort zone, but also interests you (even if only mildly)? Take your camera and open your mind – trust me, the ideas will come flooding! My top recommendation? Something that takes place outside; the colours in nature never fail to inspire!


Take out your laptop/ computer and open Photoshop/ Paint/ Illustrator/ InDesign!

Before you begin the process of working on canvas or paper, use whatever program, you feel most comfortable with and play around. It gives you the flexibility to make mistakes which are free, play with textures and patterns and also email to friends, family and colleagues to get feedback! You can even print out your experiments in different sizes to see what looks best! Win win situation I think!


Keep a journal!

journal inspirationWrite down your feelings, musings, dreams…collecting emotions and passing sub conscious thoughts is a wonderful resource to come back to whenever you’re feeling a bit empty.

Something you wrote down 3 months ago can suddenly become relevant again and you can see it with fresh eyes.

So, these are all techniques I used to start thinking outside the box and challenge myself when painting, printing and drawing.

Please, share your tips below and lets all help each other!


Karen Shidlo trained as a painter at Pratt Institute, NY. Having accumulated experience in art business through working at a variety of galleries and other creative businesses, she moved to London in 2010. She founded Jester Jacques Gallery in 2011 with her brother, a business and marketing expert.”

Jester Jacques Gallery

Follow Jester Jacques Gallery on Facebook and on Twitter @jesterjacques


  1. This may sound odd, but I woke up one morning and observed through vague eyesight the wadded up clothes on my table. They seemed to represent a human shape. So I sketched it and later turned it into part of a painting. That painting got into a statewide art show.

  2. Write dreams. Love to have iPad and photograph scraps that can incorporate in brushes. Notes, even on an envelope

  3. Thanks for sharing those tips. (h) I usually see ideas in weirdest places - in shadows on the wall, for example.


Thank-you for your comment!