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Does your psychology impact your artwork?

Want to be more productive artist? Understanding how the human mind and our natural behaviors impact our actions can go a long way with creating a way of working that works for us.


Examine your creative habits.  As the author of several books on happiness including Better Than Before and The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin talks about several examples of what have worked for many famed artists in an article on Psych Central. There is a central question here: What has worked for your in the past and what hasn’t?

I enjoy quite a bit of distraction as part of my creative process. I enjoy the escapism of having music, television or podcasts on in the background as I paint, draw or design. I feel like this puts what I’m doing in perspective. Otherwise, if I’m drawn into the idea that what I’m doing is all there is in the world, it can be really difficult to keep going when something doesn’t go perfectly right. If the television is on, I can take a mental break just long enough to regroup and come up with the perfect solution when I tackle the next step. It’ll take some trial and error to figure out what methods make you the most productive. 


Does your gender play a role? Maria Popova examines psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his text on how artists defy traditional gender norms. Artists tend to think outside of the box, therefore we might not need to act in a way that is expected for our gender. This isn’t about our sexuality, it’s about how we are told to react within our culture.

Women artists might be more assertive on average than the general population. Male artists certainly have an anecdotal reputation for being more emotional and passionate than the average man. Do you feel you have broken any of these molds with your art or personality? 

Brain Rhythms

Can you improve the rhythm of your brain? The University of North Carolina School of Medicine has used weak electrical currents to literally boost creativity. “We’ve provided the first evidence that specifically enhancing alpha oscillations is a causal trigger of a specific and complex behavior – in this case, creativity,” senior author Flavio Frohlich, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, cell biology and physiology, biomedical engineering, and neurology says in the official press release.

These brain oscillations have been associated with our senses and are more prominent when we come up with ideas. While we probably aren’t going to be using electrical currents for this effect, finding more natural ways to induce these waves could make you a more productive artist. Meditation and daydreaming are associated with alpha oscillations; they’re also much easier and safer to do on your own.

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Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

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Brian E. Young

I'm a graphic designer (portfolio), classical pianist and artist in Baltimore, MD. I host the Uncanny Creativity Podcast helping to demystify the creative process and creator of, an online shop for apparel and games. Twitter: @sketchee

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