As a cartoonist I get asked all the time where I get my ideas from. If you are an artist people may ask you the same thing, how do you come up with an idea for a painting. You can train your mind to respond to certain conditions, certain time frames and so forth to make ideas come your way. Many artist fall into the trap of staying to themselves, hunched over their work as to secretly be creating a painting. Most of us are trained not to reveal our work until it is complete and to some artists that day never arrives. Think about it, most comic book artists are stuck in the basement playing video games or drawing comics, they rarely come out even for the light of day. They are great at coming up with new worlds, fantasy creatures and more because that is what they focus on all the time.
The first thing you need to do is get out of the house! Go watch people, sketch, or think about your life and life in general, think about what you like to do, what you do for a living and so on. Read about things that interest you and keep notes on subjects that may be good for paintings down the road. Find out what system is for you that triggers that switch in your brain to come up with ideas. For me it is my walk every morning. I find the ideas come flooding in at that time and my biggest problem is to remember them all by the time I get home. I used to carry my phone to record ideas but I found I stop too much which takes away from the purpose of my walk. Those ideas flood to me every morning. Exercise is a great way of getting the ideas flowing. Maybe it is a certain time of day that works for you, morning, afternoon, late at night, everyone is different.
Keep a note book or I use my iPhone under notes and just type in the idea. Many times all I get is a title, or subject and that is enough. Very rarely does the whole idea flesh itself out totally. The ones that do come out fast I write down everything I can think of right down to the tag lines if needed.
Figure out your system that works for you and you will have ideas coming to you on a regular basis. Remember most of your ideas will come from your own life so don’t be afraid to write down the stupid thing you did last week, it may create the next line of paintings.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a cartoonist, illustrator, and business consultant in Southern Ontario Canada. He specializes in caricature and cartooning and helps artist run successful businesses. More information can be found on his websites at www.bruceoutridgeproductions.com, and www.outridge.ca