What To Do When Your Art Is Boring

your art is boring

“I Will Not Make Anymore Boring Art” is actually the motto of the highly influential artist John Baldessari, but we’re sure he’s okay if you borrow it. Often when we’re struggling to get something right, to paraphrase Jurassic Park, we only focus on figuring out if we can do it rather than if we should. So take a moment, step back from your project and ask yourself these three questions:

1. Do I still feel the spark?
Think of your project like a relationship – there was something thrilling at the beginning that pushed you to work on this. The honeymoon period may be over now, but do you still have that sense of caring and excitement? Or have things gotten stale? If you don’t feel the spark anymore, don’t expect anyone else to feel it either.

2. What is my elevator pitch?
There are many wonderful creative projects that are dense, challenging, experimental or downright baffling. But no matter what, at the core there is an idea, even if the idea is that there is no idea. An elevator pitch is about 30 seconds, and it forces you to boil down your project into the barest essentials. The ideas behind every novel, painting, photo and piece of music in history can be explained in about half a minute. If you don’t think that’s possible for your project, or the elevator pitch doesn’t sound that interesting, you may want to shift your focus.

3. Am I past the point of no return?
Say the spark is gone and your elevator pitch is less than stellar. But, you say to yourself, so much blood, sweat, tears and time have gone into this project that there is no turning back now. You would rather finish a project you hate rather than feel like you wasted all this time on nothing. In economics, this is called the sunk cost fallacy because while no, you can’t get that time back, it doesn’t mean you need to keep torturing yourself to finish it. All of that work may not lead directly to this particular project being finished, but it did help hone your skills and make you better overall. So now maybe it’s time to shift those abilities towards some art that isn’t boring.

Shane Mehling FOLLOW >

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.