View Full Version : Environmental factors that help/hinder creativity?

01-01-2014, 04:28 PM
So once upon a time, I had The Book of Think, which was essentially a problem-solving methodology book for kids. One of the ideas it discussed was arranging a specific sensory environment to bolster creative thought. In the last decade or so I've found this to be fairly valid, at least for myself. Certain sounds, scents and sights will completely derail my ability to draw, and others will calm me and make it easier. While I realize this is a highly subjective experience that will likely be different for every single artist, I'd nonetheless like to start a thread where we each discuss what works (and optionally, what doesn't work) for us, so that perhaps we can find correlations and each improve our own creative environments.

Stuff that helps me:
Natural light and/or daylight bulbs
Gray/brown noise, the sound of rain, etc.
Coffitivity, or just actually working in a coffee shop
Non-vocal ethnic drumming ensemble music (i.e. African or Taiko)
Low-key IDM stuff like Boards of Canada, Tycho, etc.
Tea (Earl Grey, hot)

Stuff that derails me:
Harsh artificial illumination, especially fluorescent overheads
Atonal staccato sounds like off-key whistling, humming, finger snapping, etc.
The presence of commuters or tourists, especially if they're glancing at me even a little
Any show playing in the background that I haven't seen before (i.e. a new episode)
Pretty much any music with vocals that stand out
Most pets, because allergens :(

Your turn!

01-01-2014, 04:32 PM
Heat of african summer.

01-01-2014, 04:35 PM
My Motto

"If I don't feel it, I don't draw it"

Pretty much. Because hey, if my piece cannot steal my own heart, how will it steal others?

So turn on the music, read some stuffs and let your imagination flow as you smile with your mouth wide open as you draw (and shove it down y-)

01-01-2014, 04:36 PM
To be honest, the only things that prevent my creativity and the flow of the draws is either: if my hands are extremely, extremely cold and I have no way to warm them up, or if my insomnia gets out of hand, and my sleeping schedule is totally wack. Although I continue trying to draw when this happens, it's as if my Art-Chi is blocked. :[

01-01-2014, 05:38 PM
Things that help me:
~Natural or artificial light that is bright enough to not cause me eyestrain (can't be too bright either, because SUNLIGHT REFLECTING OFF WHITE PAPER AUGH).
~A drink, any drink (tea, diet soda or a Monster are what I usually like) except coffee, because java gives me jitters something fierce.
~Any kind of music that is on mine or the other half's playlist (can be orchestral, big band, video game music, punk, goth rock, etc.) although I prefer music that actually fits what I'm drawing at the time.
~Being clean and not wearing things like dirty clothes or pajamas.
~Light, natural background sounds (rain, soft conversation)
~A comfortable place to sit with lots of back support (I lean forward a lot).
~Lots of space (because art sprawl is inevitable in most cases).

Things that hinder me:
~Excessive artificial or mechanical white noise.
~Light that is too dim or is oriented badly.
~Very harsh or bright light (see my comment above).
~Radio talk shows, loud conversation and generally being in the presence of obnoxious people; unless I'm "in the zone" it's impossible for me to draw in public places.
~Certain kinds music that irritate me, such as pop, dubstep and loud screamo or metal.
~Cramped, uncomfortable spaces.
~Excessive clutter.
~The Internet.

01-01-2014, 05:46 PM
Really, the only thing I need is privacy (otherwise, I feel pressured to be good, which makes my stuff suck.)

Stuff that helps:
- Clean surroundings
- Natural light, or soft light
- My dog nearby
- Familiar music (if I haven't heard it before, I'm going to be paying more attention to it than what I'm doing)
- Nobody talking (or at least, nobody talking loud enough that I can hear it over industrial rock)
- Not having to work tomorrow (for some reason, I do my best stuff super late at night, and I hate this about myself)

01-01-2014, 05:55 PM
I'm not sure what helps me but sooo many things derail the crap out of me.

Clutter, noise, pets, family, light, background noise, just my freaking computer humming, etc etc.

01-01-2014, 06:11 PM
- I pretty much HAVE to be on a flat, wide, sturdy surface, like a desk or a table. It's practically an absolute requirement. I can't be laying down, and I can't be holding the tablet / sketchbook / whatever up.

- Helps if I'm drinking coffee or tea.

- Music helps, but it has to be my own music. Or just quiet helps. There can't be any irritating noise or music that will distract me.

- People can't be constantly bothering me / talking to me / distracting me / watching me (in person).

- I seem to draw better and have more inspiration during the night, than the day.

- If I'm drawing on paper, the paper can't be dirty, and my hands can't be dirty or greasy.

- I seem to work much better when I'm in a mental state of distress, anger, depression, or other negative emotions, as opposed to being content / happy. I also seem to be far more creative in my ideas.

- A lot of how I imagine what to draw is in scenes. I draw a still image from that "scene" that repeats in my mind as I work on the picture. If a particular song inspired that scene in my mind, I have to keep it on repeat at least until I get most of the groundwork on the picture done.

- I have to take intermittent short breaks if I've been working on something for a few hours. Otherwise, my vision starts blurring together, and I lose focus of what I'm trying to do.

01-01-2014, 06:21 PM
- If I'm drawing on paper, the paper can't be dirty, and my hands can't be dirty or greasy.

Agghhh how did I forget that one. I guess because I work digitally so much lately. Grease or dirt on paper drives me insane. Likewise, if it's a sketchbook for dry media, gets wet, and the paper crinkles, I pretty much can't work in it anymore. Dry media goes in dry sketchbook, wet in wet, dammit. >:I

01-06-2014, 07:11 PM
The only time I can be creative is 2AM. -_-
And I'm half asleep.

01-06-2014, 08:11 PM
space heater (winter only)
cat on my shoulders
cat on my lap
a burning incense cone
edm with no vocals
my favorite hat
cool, comfortable weather

wearing socks/shoes
hot, muggy weather
chatty people
loud tv's
cat hair in the clay (nooooooo)
cat on the clay
cat on the paper
cat in the paint
cat eating the brushes
cat eating the pencils
cat eating the paper
cat eating the yarn
cat throwing the yarn back up

01-06-2014, 08:25 PM

I'm sensing a theme.

There was a reason I'd keep my door shut when I lived with a roommate with cats. It's like they could tell precisely the area I did not want them to go and they headed straight for it.

Even then, I'd still find cat hair in my paint brushes. How?!

01-06-2014, 08:32 PM
I'm sensing a theme.

There was a reason I'd keep my door shut when I lived with a roommate with cats. It's like they could tell precisely the area I did not want them to go and they headed straight for it.

Even then, I'd still find cat hair in my paint brushes. How?!

It's everywhere. I've found cat hair in the louvers in the attic, no where near where any cat has been in nearly ten years. String theory? More like cat hair theory. Everything is made of cat hair. There's a theory that if you place a flat object on the floor, and pay attention to it, you can find the exact center of that object directly beneath the cat that has appeared on it.

I tend to work in the living room, so there's no real keeping them out of the work, since there's no doors to keep them out.

01-06-2014, 10:58 PM
One of my cats does that too, get's into everything and tries to eat it.
I actually warn people that I trade with that I have cats because the fur is everywhere. :/

01-06-2014, 11:34 PM
Things that help:
Music of any kind, as long as it fits the mood of what I'm drawing.
A drink of some sort, especially coffee or tea. Hot helps better than cold.
Bright, incandescent lights. Fluorescents are OK but natural sunlight just makes me always feel like there isn't enough.
Sometimes, other people, especially if they are also drawing. Someone I'm comfortable chatting with while I'm doodling.
Movies or TV shows that I've already seen 100 times. *eyes Kick Ass*

Excessive noise. Crying babies, people chattering, whatever.
TV shows that I've not seen the particular episode.
Too many people, even if they aren't talking.

01-13-2014, 08:18 PM
For me... I'd have to say...
Things That Help:
-natural sunlight
-music that fits the mood of what I'm creating
-comfy chair
-some sort of drink
-an open window with fresh air
-birds singing outside said open window

Things That Hinder
-being too cold, specially if my hands are half frozen
-being too hot
-not having gone out or been cooped up in one place for too long.
-obnoxious noises
-hunger or distracting smells (good or bad)

01-14-2014, 10:37 PM
I need to be in a place that FEELS like home in order for me to draw comfortably.
Yes I know it's strange ._.
I draw well at the house but since college has been warming up to my familiarity, (been there for a few months now) I've begun to draw effortlessly there. Needless to say I wont be able to draw if there is drama in the house or if I'm too distracted by wonderful weather, beckoning me to frolic outside.

01-17-2014, 08:59 PM
Fun fact! There's a growing body of research that indicates that ambient noise levels of around 70 decibels help aid the creative process. This is why so many people like to listen to music when they draw, or why so many people write in coffee houses.

01-20-2014, 10:14 PM
power ups: music, comfortable bed or chair, warm cat lap warmer, ambient light ( i love my lanterns yo), thunderstorms, rain, piano music

power downs: people who break my concentration when i draw, people who grab my shit while i draw, EXTREMELY LOUD NOISES THAT ARE OBNOXIOUS

01-21-2014, 11:47 PM
Helpful: Quiet environment, rain, something to listen to on my headphones, decent lighting

Unhelpful: People talking near me, people looking over my shoulder and making comments, being in a bad mood, me watching Pokemon on youtube when they don't have the dubs yet so I don't understand anything

01-21-2014, 11:50 PM
My emotions mainly, if i am sad or upset i can't seem to draw worth a hill of beans.
When i am happy, I am boundlessly creative, its really weird how it goes, sometimes I'll stop drawing for months and then suddenly be creative again as my mood raises and confidence builds.

That seems to be my biggest hindrance for drawing

Bri Mercedes
01-21-2014, 11:56 PM
- Some form of white noise: non-angry music, podcast, TV, etc.
- Quiet space, aka no one playing a very vocal game of League of Legends in the same room
- Clean workspace
- Pot of tea
- Snack; one that won't get my fingers messy
- Cat sleeping on lap

No no no no:
- Clutter, which is bad because I'm a cluttery kind of person
- Easily accessible video games or other distractions
- Cats trying to steal snacks