Give Yourself A Creativity Reset: 4 Ways Collage Is Great For Getting Unblocked

I’ve been making art for over 20 years and I promise you there’s nothing easier than collage-making. So today let me share with you how collage is a great way to not only be creative just for the fun of it, but also to give yourself a creativity reset and get unblocked. Let’s go!

Here are four ways collage is great for getting unblocked:
Part 1. Getting your creative juices flowing
Part 2. Getting past your resistance
Part 3. Gaining clarity
Part 4. Learning creativity theory

Playful paper collage with colorful shapes on black background by artist Alex Mitchell.

Part 1. Getting your creative juices flowing
What is collage? How does it work?
Collage is a type of art and an artistic technique that's been around for ages. Collage-making is an excellent type of creative play, regardless of whether you intend to create a finished artwork or just mess around. You can include collages as part of your personal creativity practice, along with self-care.

Collage-making is a right-brain activity for using your intuition to tap into your unconscious mind. It’s a back-and-forth process of right-brain input and left-brain insight.

In other words, it’s a way to give your analytical side a break and let your intuitive side drive the bus.

Collage is all about creative play.

What you use to make your collage is up to you. Pretty much any kind of paper can be used as collage fodder: magazine images, photos, words, texts, origami papers, journal pages, doodles, scraps, tickets, notes, tissue paper, sewing patterns, maps, etc.

Every collage begins with your collage fodder. Some people make their own papers. Others collect images and keep them in folders. And some people may have a whole drawer full of scraps they’re saving.

Play is productive.

The fun begins when you pull out your collage fodder and start composing a new collage. The creative process of arranging your favorite bits and gluing them down feels easy and free. And it’s precisely this intuitive process that unlocks a flood of new ideas and perspectives.

What’s the best part about collage?
Okay, so the worst thing that can happen when you’re making a collage is that you don’t like what you made. And it’s also the best thing that can happen. Seriously.

If you don’t like what you’ve made, you’ve now got an opportunity to start a new collage. No sweat. Cut it up and use it as fodder to begin a new collage. And thanks to all the momentum you’ve already got going, it’ll take surprisingly little effort to finish your new collage.

The best part about collage is that you simply can’t fail if you’re open to trying new things.

Playful map-like paper collage with colorful shapes on white background by artist Alex Mitchell.

Part 2. Getting past your resistance
The biggest challenge we face when beginning any project is our resistance. Just think of how overwhelming it can feel to stare at a blank page or white canvas.

The beauty of collage-making is that it feels very playful. It’s much easier to jump in and create momentum.

You’d be surprised to know how many artists begin paintings with a collage, only to leave no trace of it. And collage can be used as a creative warm-up activity for writing or problem-solving.

Collage is a great catalyst for getting started and gaining clarity.

Take note, you’re never resistant to the work itself. Nope.

Your resistance shows up in your thinking about the work. You get caught in a loop of spiraling thoughts about not having enough time, not knowing how to start, not feeling inspired, etc.

Because when you think about the actual work you feel excited.

You feel excited about using new materials you can’t wait to play with. You feel excited about finishing wherever you left off last time. You feel excited about trying a new technique.

Your resistance is the only thing between you and getting your butt into flow. And if you’re not sure about what flow is:

Flow is energized focus, effortless expression, and total immersion in what you’re doing.

The opposite of resistance is letting go.

The problem is we think we can push our way through. Here’s a counter-intuitive truth about resistance:

Working harder only keeps you stuck.

To get past your resistance, you’ve gotta allow for ease. Getting unstuck is about letting yourself play, trusting your intuition, and letting your unconscious mind come up with answers.

Playful paper collage with colorful square shapes on black background by artist Alex Mitchell.

Part 3. Gaining clarity
We’ve covered that collage is a back-and-forth process of right-brain input and left-brain insight. Here’s more detail about how this process plays out.

• Right-brain input: Spontaneity, randomness, and play
When using your unconscious intuitive thinking, you’re actively doing something that keeps your attention in the present moment. You’re making space for insights to bubble up from your unconscious mind.

It might look like creating your own collage fodder. The simple repetitive actions of making marks, scribbling, and doodling can even feel soothing like meditation.

• Left-brain insight: Purposefulness and meaning
When using your conscious linear thinking, you’re giving meaning and direction to what you were doing intuitively beforehand. You’re finding connections between ideas.

It might look like adding words and quotes sparked by the imagery you’ve intuitively glued down.

Playful paper collage with colorful square shapes on white  background by artist Alex Mitchell.

Part 4. Learning creativity theory
What is creativity theory?
Collage-making is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the five steps of creativity theory. When we talk about creativity theory it’s typically within the context of problem-solving.

Creativity theory breaks the creative process down into five steps:
• Preparation
• Incubation
• Inspiration
• Evaluation
• Implementation

And by no means is creativity theory limited to the field of art. A scientist in her research lab or a product designer in his studio goes through these steps on a daily basis in search of answers.

The five steps of creativity theory look like this:

Step 1: Preparation
When you grapple with the problem you want to solve.

You consciously pose a question to yourself with the intention of letting the answer bubble up from your unconscious mind. In other words, you’re using your conscious linear thinking to prepare yourself for unconscious intuitive thinking.

Of course, the problem you grapple with can take many forms. But typically you either want to create something new or to find a solution.

When making collages:
The preparation step feels like getting clear on your intention for making the collage. Just think about how people like to use collages for their vision boards, for example.



Step 2: Incubation
When you step away from the problem to play.

You let your unconscious mind work while having fun doing something that excites or energizes you. You can get your creative juices flowing via creative play by doing simple repetitive actions like free writing, making marks, scribbling, and doodling.

You can step away by engaging in physical activities like going for a walk, yoga, or playing sports.

And it’s important to note that enjoyable routine activities also do the trick. Sometimes doing the laundry, taking a shower, or making a sandwich allows you just enough distance from the problem to let the answer incubate.

Basically, your objective is to be active in doing something that keeps your attention in the present moment while your ideas are marinating in your unconscious mind.

When making collages:
The incubation step feels like getting into flow by making your collage fodder and playing around with your materials.



Step 3: Inspiration
When you get your intuitive aha moments.

Your insights will come to you via stray thoughts, images, or ideas that bubble up to the surface of your conscious mind.

When making collages:
The inspiration step feels like taking inspired action when you’re intuitively cutting out bits of paper and gluing them down. It also feels exciting like finding connections between ideas.



Step 4: Evaluation
When you follow your impulses and work with your insights.

You’re trying stuff out and going with what’s working. It feels effortless like letting yourself go downstream. Although you’re evaluating and comparing, you’re not pushing yourself. You’re still very much in the flow of creating.

When making collages:
The evaluation step feels like going with your impulses when composing your collages. You might be cutting up your fodder into shapes and choosing your favorite bits to glue down
.


Step 5: Implementation
When you revise in order to bring your project to its completion.

You’ve gotta be okay with knowing that many other possible solutions exist. And for now, you’ve simply chosen one.

It’s important to note that the creative process is iterative. This means you move forward by repeating steps until you’re satisfied with your outcome.

Anytime you feel stuck, you can step away (Step 2: Incubation) and allow for new insights (Step 3: Inspiration). Or you can try something new (Step 4: Evaluation) and revise in order to finish (Step 5: Implementation).

Basically, you’re letting your momentum carry you forward, with each iteration bringing you closer to your desired outcome.

When making collages:
The implementation step feels like making your final decisions and calling it done. It might look like finding the perfect bits to fill any gaps, playing with contrast, or adding words sparked by the imagery. It might also look like cutting up your current composition and using it as fodder to begin a new one.

    
Playful abstract paper collage with colorful shapes on white background by artist Alex Mitchell.

Conclusion.
Collage-making is an excellent type of creative play. You can include it as part of your personal creativity practice, along with self-care. You can use it as a catalyst for getting past your resistance and into flow. You can also use it for gaining clarity and problem-solving. And the best part about collage is that you simply cannot fail if you’re open to trying new things. Smile.

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