Behind The Canvas; Creative Burnout and What It Means For Small Artists.

I’m no stranger to creative burnout! I’ve suffered from burnout in many areas of my life and, until very recently, that extended into my creative life.

I’m no stranger to creative burnout! I’ve suffered from burnout in many areas of my life and, until very recently, that extended into my creative life. While I came back to writing in late twenty eighteen, which later led to the creation of this blog, I couldn’t quite get by the final hurdle. It wasn’t until mid-twenty-twenty that picked up a pencil after almost half a decade. And now I’ve got my Etsy store where I sell my silly little pieces of art and I’m writing creative stories on the daily.

But I suppose I’d better address the elephant in the room that is the future of this blog. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been absent from this blog for over a month. It’s the first instance in over five years that I’ve taken time away from writing for this site. And, truth be told, I think frequent posting has become a thing of the past, with much more time now being dedicated to my art, creative writing and personal health.

With that being said, I want to continue posting here infrequently and discussing topics more dear to my heart. While still in the mental wellness community, my focus has shifted massively to other areas of my life. One such is the concept of creativity and creative burnout.

Image from Unsplash+

Creative burnout is a troublesome part of artistry that isn’t often talked about among the masses. Sure, we talk at length about writer or artist’s block, but what does it really mean? And why does it happen? While creation can come easily to some, for others it’s a process that leads to exhaustion, frustration and even a sense of stagnation. The worst part is that you can go from being inspired and overflowing with ideas, to nothing at all in a matter of hours.

Much like regular burnout, creative burnout refers to the exhaustion felt from a long period of creative activity. With it comes a distinct loss of motivation, inspiration and even passion for your projects.

I personally also find that creative burnout occurs when I’m already starting to feel disillusioned by my craft. In this modern day of social media, it’s all about engagement and likes. And when we work so hard on something, only to get little to no payback, it can be disheartening.

But creative burnout can also stem from multiple other factors.

  1. Being overworked in various areas of your life.
  2. Trying to meet unrealistic expectations.
  3. Not setting or sticking to your boundaries.
  4. Allowing external pressures to wear you down.
  5. Suffering from a creative block.

While it’s not a simple or quick fix, there are several things you can do to work towards burnout recovery.

Know the signs!

The first step to change in any situation is to spot the signs and admit that you’re heading towards a problem. Creative burnout is, sadly, a part of being creative. It’s a part we will all experience and can never get away from. But once you know the signs (fatigue, lack of motivation, frustration) you can begin to work towards changing how you do things. Bear in mind that this might mean stepping away from your creative hobby for a while or shifting your mindset.

Take time to recharge.

Take time to practice self-care. Sometimes all we need is a day or two of nothing but relaxation. If you work digitally it’s especially important to step away from the screen and out into nature.

Find your inspiration!

Sometimes it’s as simple as finding what inspires you in order to reignite your passion. Look for inspiration in places you often find it, be it online or in the real world. Explore new forms of art, visit your local exhibitions, listen to music, re-read an old favourite or even indulge in some of your favourite movies. I’ve recently found great motivation in my favourite TV show, Supernatural.

Be realistic with your goals.

Change your approach to goal-setting and work to establish realistic expectations for yourself. You’re not trying to re-create the Mona Lisa or write the next Lord of The Rings. So, dial it back and bite off something you’re actually fit to chew! Play to your strengths and your skill set, while also leaving time aside to learn and grow.


Finally, it’s important that you allow yourself to play. Experiment with new styles or concepts, even if they don’t bear fruit. You’re not churning out content; you’re being creative. Stop allowing the fear of failure to hold you back and give yourself permission to make mistakes.

Jojo Spencer, originally from Mansfield in England, moved to Northern Ireland twenty years ago. She’s an avid animal lover, which is evident in quite a few of her pieces. And her talent isn’t limited to the canvas. In fact, Jojo has also been known to paint on anything from wood to metal milk churns.

An abstract piece by Jojo.

While Jojo is extremely gifted in regards to photorealism, she found herself suffering from creative burnout and now finds peace in the freedom of abstracts. This is not an uncommon story from artists, specifically those who operate on a smaller scale. While support from the masses can be overwhelming, so can little to no engagement or encouragement. And while we shouldn’t aim for outward validation, it’s sadly still a big contribution to creative burnout as an artist. Jojo, alongside other small artists such as Catdadpaints, has expressed how deflating it can be to be an artist in the modern landscape of social media and tiktok trends.

But Jojo is pushing through and pursuing her love of abstracts, and I for one am pleased! While photorealism is beautiful (and mesmerising to someone like me), abstracts are equally so.

You can find Jojo on her Instagram and get in touch via her direct message.

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