A guide to my fellow art students: How to find your inspiration in a time of crisis.

I wake up.

Walk to the studio.

Sit down at my desk.

My inspiration is nowhere to be found.


Wikihow tells me that I need to keep my hopes up. Stay positive, befriend people who resemble myself, write down my progress, take breaks and brag about my success. This sounds like an absolute nightmare when motivation is at an all time low. Maybe I should just wait it out? I mean, my inspiration has to come back right?

A friend tells me that I need a new hobby in order to be able to focus on my work. I start tattooing. It gives me anxiety. I start doing graffiti. It feels great, but I don’t know if a life of crime is the way to go. I start going to thai boxing, but got punched in the face. Maybe I should do something less risky…




Don’t know any dogs.



Must be Meditation.

I’m sure of it.

On second thought, uhm… I can’t concentrate. I decide to dye my hair red instead. It’s not enough, I bleach my eyebrows as well. It makes me look like an unhinged mix of the Mad Hatter and Lorax. At least it gives me dopamine.

It’s been two weeks now and my inspiration is still nowhere to be found. The little guy sure decided to take a vacation at the worst possible time. I decide to do the same. Escapism always works right? A bus leaves for Copenhagen tomorrow. Success, that ticket is mine >:)

The trip is long and boring. 4 and a half hours along the same coastal landscape. It gives me time for self-reflection. My absolute worst enemy.

I’m being overly dramatic. It is often helpful to look at the world from a different more distant perspective. Looking objectively if you will, but let’s be real here. It isn’t always possible. The big looking glass pointed at the world can sometimes be distorted. Even a tiny bit broken. I think that’s the situation that I’m in now. I find carrying the-big-intellectual-artist-hat very difficult. It feels like I’m carrying a dunce cap instead.

I once again google “how to find inspiration”. This time Pinterest is the one answering my call. I’m presented with the following inspirational quotes:

Please read this with a valley girl accent, for full effect.

Why be moody when you can shake yo booty.

Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.

Just say yikes and move on.

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

When it comes to art it’s impossible to hide the madness.

Artists are simple people with complex minds.

Broken crayons can still colour.

Sit with the winners, the conversation is different.

I create. I take risks. I am an ENTREPRENEUR.

Be humble. Be hungry. And always be the hardest worker in the room.

Not only does the it-girl-gone-emotionally-abusive-mom website label me as a sad suffering artist, but it’s also telling me that I have to suck it up and stop being a baby. How motivating.

I must admit that despite my ironic and somewhat sceptic take on all of these motivational guides some of them might be right. I chose this artist thing by my own accord. The institution I’m a part of might be giving me concrete deadlines, but In the end I’m the only one forcing myself to do anything. I could spend the rest of my life as a professional bridesmaid, face peeler, paper towel sniffer or a worm picker if I wanted to, but instead I’m sitting here writing on my all too expensive MacBook how my lack of inspiration is:

so sad :(((

and not:

so fun :))))

In the end I’m just being ridiculous.

But back to Copenhagen. I’m here, it’s sunny outside, therefore my Vitamin-D levels are rising. Maybe this entire thing is just a case of me not listening to my bodily needs. The reason remains a mystery to me, nonetheless I have two days to find my inspiration before I go back home. Better get to work.

I fill my days with exhibitions, beer, and friends. Artist life. Vacation life. Escapism life. I fill my phone with pictures of other peoples works. My notes-app with their names and titles. Surely I’ll remember them in the future.

Esben Weile Kjær – BUTTERFLY!

Frej Volander – Symphony for dagger

Nicklas Landau – Nightbrain

Helen Haskakis – Hundra rötter dricker tyst

Lida Jonsson, Ssi Saarinen, Ona Julija, Lukas Steponaitytė – Terrarium

Still, my situation remains the same.

I give YouTube one last try on the bus ride home. I’m presented with Hank Greens video The Research-Backed Secrets to Getting Inspired which for the sake of creating integrity is based on actual scientific research by the two American psychology professors Todd M. Thrash and Andrew J. Elliot. Anyways, Green explains that scientifically speaking, inspiration has three qualities. If you’re in the same situation as I am then you should probably watch it yourself (or you know…read), but if you want a short and very silly summary, you’ll get it here:

Evocation – it just happens

Approach Motivation – my idea is so good that I have to make it happen RIGHT NOW

Transcendence – I don’t have a single worry in this world therefore I have time to feel inspired

In other words it cannot be forced. My hopes of tricking my own brain into spontaneous inspiration is therefore shattered. Damn 🙁

I realise that this personal public crisis isn’t very helpful for you. Therefore I’ve decided to make one final list of activities so that hopefully you can reach the designated destination of inspired art student:

  • Escape the country
  • Distract your fellow uninspired friends
  • Maintain one or multiple ongoing addictions
  • Disassociate
  • Override your already rising stress levels with caffeine
  • Consume other peoples art in the hopes of making your own
  • Send emails – that’s so fun
  • Call someone and ask for help
  • Cry
  • Do something illegal – gets the adrenaline going
  • Explain to your teachers why you haven’t delivered anything new in two months
  • Panic
  • Second guess your decision to become an artist
  • Force yourself to make art (not recommended)
  • Stare at your list of upcoming and missed deadlines
  • Be so bored that you have to do something

Inspiration will apparently show up eventually, and if not then I can’t help you. Sorry 🙂 Ironically writing this text actually made me inspired so maybe making fun of your own chaotic behaviour in a-soon-to-be-public article is the way to go. Good luck 😛

Images: Sunniva Hestenes


SciShow Psych, Youtube.The Research-Backed Secrets to Getting Inspired. https://www.youtube.com/. 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDPJTo-gNUI&ab_channel=SciShowPsych (10.03.23).

Pinterest, quotes how to be inspired (search engine promt). https://no.pinterest.com/. NA. https://no.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=quotes%20how%20to%20be%20inspired&rs=typed (10.03.23).

Camber Hill, WikiHow. How to Inspire Yourself. https://www.wikihow.com/. 2022. https://www.wikihow.com/Inspire-Yourself (10.03.23).

Studyworkgrow.13 More Unusual Jobs you might not know exist. https://studyworkgrow.com.au/2021. https://studyworkgrow.com.au/2021/01/12/13-more-unusual-jobs-you-might-not-know-exist/ (10.03.23).

Images Sunniva Hestenes