Brainstorming for Artists

Brainstorming is an essential process that artists can use to develop their ideas to create their artwork. Exercises such as word association, mind maps, thumbnail sketches, and sketchbook doodles are all discussed as a means towards stimulating the development of ideas for future artworks.

Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artists Eloise Sherrid and Alex Rowe.

38 minute video

Video Walkthrough

  • Don’t wait for inspiration, if you do, you’ll be waiting a long time.
  • You have to take initiative to find ideas, it takes time and effort!
  • Brainstorm by putting ideas on paper, don’t do it in your head.
  • Try not to judge your ideas while you are brainstorming.
  • Let yourself “barf” your ideas onto paper, don’t hold back!
  • Get started by writing down literally everything that pops into your head, no matter how stupid it sounds.
  • Put the cliché version down on paper to get it out of your system, and then eliminate it.
  • A quick Google search of your topic is a good way to identify what the cliché version of your topic is.
  • Writing notes is just as useful as drawing images.
  • Word Association is a great exercise to just get your ideas flowing.
  • Mind maps are effective for making connections between ideas.
  • Look up words in the dictionary and read the definition as s starting point, even if it feels too obvious.
  • Brainstorm over several days so you can get distance from the ideas.
  • Write down your ideas anytime anything pops into your head, you may use that idea down the line.
  • Thumbnail sketches are important!
  • Sketches can be done in any media, choose what is the best fit.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Often people will ask me whether a specific technique, image or composition is a good idea. I think it’s a matter of getting it down on paper!

We can think about things all we want in our head, but until it’s actually on paper all we can do is guess. I’ve had ideas that sounded so good in my head that ended up being awful on paper. (and vice versa)

A great way to really explore your options with your idea is to make sure that there is a ton of variety in your thumbnails. Often I’ve seen people do 6 thumbnails and all 6 thumbnails are very similar. That will help in terms of exploring what’s possible.