Maybe you’ve got a project that’s looming or perhaps you’re excited to get started creating your own designs to sell on the Artmarketeer marketplace. Either’re stuck. Unsure of where to start. Can’t seem to put anything down on the page (or screen, as the case may be). As artists, here are seven of our favorite ways to kick off the creative process.

1. Go Old School

While graphic design has largely gone digital, that doesn’t mean that there’s no room for exploration with paintbrushes, pencils, and all of the traditional tools of the art trade. Even if the end result needs to be a digital design, keep plenty of art supplies around. If you’re stuck staring at a blank computer screen, creating something on physical paper can be a great way to de-stress and get unstuck.

2. Get Social

While social media can be one of the biggest time-wasters in the world (especially when we’re supposed to be working!), it’s also a great source of inspiration for artists, photographers, and graphic designers. Head to image-based sites like Tumblr and Pinterest to see what other people are doing. It may be enough to set your mind wandering and kick off an avalanche of ideas that hadn’t yet occurred to you.

3. Think of the Audience

Stop and consider the target audience for the project. Who should this design speak to? Who are your client’s customers? What’s the best way to capture the attention of the 12-and-under crowd or to make a middle-aged housewife want – no – need to purchase a product? What are their motivations? Thinking from their perspective can often help get you started in the right direction.

4. Start with Words

What’s the essence you’d like to capture in your current project? What vibe and emotion would you like the images to put forth? Instead of starting with pictures, jot down a list of words that describe the direction in which you’d like to go. Once they get a few creative juices flowing, the dam will break and you’ll be amazed at all of the ideas that come rushing through.

5. Peruse Print

Magazine ads, photos, and illustrations are there for one purpose: to catch the reader’s attention. As such, they’re excellent sources of inspiration for designers of all types. From playful advertising and eye-grabbing logos to interesting fashion and breathtaking photography, magazines are a never-ending well of ideas from which to drink.

6. Immerse Yourself in Art

The mind of an artist is like a garden, and it’s important to plant seeds there that will flourish as you work. In your down time, make sure to enjoy different kinds of artwork created by others. Attend shows at your local theater and visit art galleries. Stroll gardens and take note of architecture and historical monuments. Go to concerts, listen to music, and open yourself up to the emotion the sounds evoke. In art, experience and emotion are great fodder, and you’ll be able to draw from all of this as you sit down at your desk and begin to work.

7. Dont Force It

Sometimes, the best designs happen when you’re not even working on them. While this is no excuse to procrastinate, it is an excuse to take a break, push back from your desk, and go outside for a walk. If you’re truly stuck, work on something else and come back to your current project later. The best ideas I’ve ever had were ones that occurred to me while I was doing something besides working on that particular project.

Do you have interesting ways to clear mental blocks when you’re running short on ideas? If so, comment below and let us know what works for you!