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How to Break the Restricted Creativity Barrier

May 6, 2016

    1. I'm not sure if this should go under General or Customization since it has to do with customizing dolls (but it isn't a tutorial or anything..), please forgive me if it's in the wrong place.

      I'm having problems breaking my creative barrier. I'm a no nonsense type of person, so when it comes to my dolls, they must have the most realistic human features and proportions possible. As far as outfits and accessories go, I am a strict "stick to the theme" person.

      For example, my Earth Goddess must only have a realistic tone of green used for her outfits and only natural accessories (if I could ever find them - micro pinecones, wooden beads, etc). Because of this requirement, I'm having a very difficult time working with her to get her perfect. With that said, I also put antlers on her - which is very non-human.

      I plan on making a Fire Goddess and a Gypsy whenever I find the perfect bodies, but I have an image in my head that works wonderfully, but they are both very bland. Same goes with a Wind Goddess, a VooDoo Priestess, and an Elf I have in mind. My envisioned Water Goddess has more accessories but I don't know if it's going to work. I, personally, don't wear any crazy accessories (hardly any at all, in fact) and my clothing style is a bit out there, in regards to pattern, but otherwise pretty bland. I feel as though that's transferred to my doll ideas.

      I don't want to invest in something totally off the wall like one of those Sphynx head dolls or a Chateau Spider because I just can't handle that type of thing. Even when I color, I can't deal with off the wall - everything has to be perfect. Any characters (Sailor Moon, for example) has to be EXACTLY as they are in their shows - I even have to pull up photos for reference to make sure I get the exact shade. My creativity is dying, but I can't think of a way to break my restrictive barrier.

      DR;TL What are ways to break out of reality when it comes to dolls?
    2. Why do you have to break out of reality? There's nothing wrong with that.

      I'm similar to you in that my dolls must only wear or own things that fit the character, and mine are all realistic human characters. I don't do fantasy at all, though some of my guys are celebrities. Sometimes, it is hard for me because I even want their timelines and locations and everything realistic. Like if I'm role playing them, I'll even check the weather in whatever city they're in to be sure it's realistic and accurate. Sometimes, I do wish I could break away from time, location and natural restraints, but for the dolls themselves, I feel like breaking away from their character would mean completely losing who they are and instead of having 16 individual characters, I would have 16 mannequins with no substance. To me, the character is as important as the doll.

      If you're feeling your dolls look bland but you don't want to lose the characters, research! Research their characters' cultures and what things those cultures would wear or important symbols or clothing from them. Research their general themes, like Google 'earth goddess' and see if any images inspire you. Maybe commission an artist to help. When I was struggling with my 18th Dynasty Pharaoh doll, I commissioned someone else to make him some clothes. I told them his status and time period, then let them have some artist freedom with it, and ended up with some beautiful items I wouldn't have thought to make myself. Also maybe join some swaps, give your doll's theme, colors and size and see what your partner comes up with. It always helps me to see what others think about.
    3. I agree with Cloakedschemer but if you want to force yourself to get out of your comfort zone choose what you think is outrageous and just do it. Nothing is unchangable. If you buy an unusual doll and you find you can't bond wqith him/her/it then sell. Acheaper was would be to make one of your current dolls a new outfit/props/wig. even if you just try them on and then put them away it's a change. You'll find that it may spark something completely new.
    4. I find this an issue a lot when I'm doing creative writing. I have a tendency to make a one dimensional character without taking in some factors. Questions to think about are: What traits does this character or doll have? Their fears or weaknesses? Flaws? Where do they live? What would they say or do in these situations? How to they relate or not relate to this other character or setting? From what you have described, it seems you are having trouble finding a specific theme you want to focus on in particular.

      You mentioned you have a few fantasy people you are trying to shell. Look into different interpretations of the genre. For example, you said you have an Earth Goddess and eventually you want to make a Fire Goddess? Would these two be enemies or friends? Would your fire goddess reflect a more dark color palette if they were more of an antagonist or more of a lighter palette if they were a protagonist to your Earth Goddess? Sometimes, relating dolls to other dolls or making an overarching theme for all of them helps with breaking that creative barrier, at least for me it does.

      I think commissioning or speaking with an artist would be wonderful! People make incredible concept art for ideas like these, and I think with the right amount of research and planning, you could come up with something realistic and aesthetically more creative, while still sticking with your strict "to the theme" attitude.
    5. Going off of what TheUmbraWitch said, I think a great way to broaden Themes is to explore those themes in media and cultures I know very little about, so that I can sorta... re-shuffle my brain in that regard, expand what that Theme means to me and what I'm able to do with it. I think that would help a lot with your feeling of restrictiveness. For the Earth Goddess, for example, you're doing what I would immediately do I think, what sounds like a very forest-type theme. Which is great, there's so many awesome dolls like that and people work in that space very beautifully. However, since it sounds like you're feeling discontent with boxing yourself into that idea, maybe it would help to explore how cultures around the world have interpreted what "Earth" means, as well as different landscapes. A desert Earth Goddess would be a lot different than a forest Earth Goddess, but would still fit into that realism, you know? (I'm using this more as a random example rather than telling you that your Earth Goddess is wrong btw, I love forest critters and I'm sure the doll's lovely.) There's a lot to explore, so maybe it's not a matter of "I restrict myself by being realistic" so much as "I restrict myself by only being realistic in one way". This can even apply to the Earth Goddess you already have (again, as an example rather than a criticism). Maybe immerse yourself in some forest for awhile, either physically or in photographs, see if you can look at it with new eyes and give priority to the details you dismissed before. I think trying to see things in a new way is a great method for re-igniting a person's motivation and devotion to a project.

      In terms of the restrictions of perfectionism, I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that approach to art, unless you're really driving yourself nuts over the details. Have you ever heard of Wreck This Journal? There are journals you can buy where the goal is to destroy each page in some creative way. It's basically like making an art project purely to destroy it xD Sounds crazy, but it actually helped me a lot with letting go of perfectionist moments that were bogging me down in my own creativity. Would recommend if you've got any ick feelings about your perfectionism still lingering!
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    6. Thank you everyone for your amazing ideas.

      I've looked into a lot of the suggestions given and I have to admit, the one that catches my eyes the most is the Wreck my Journal. After reading the reviews, I think this is something I need in my life. A little bit of chaos to set myself free.

      Developing her character more should definitely help. Those of you who mentioned it are right that I only have a vague idea of what I want - but I wonder if that's because I change things so often or if I'm afraid of commitment? But breaking out of the standard "Earth = Forest" thing, too, is going to be very helpful. That's got me thinking of a whole new thing for her skin... I planned on throwing her at (not really) an artist as soon as she recovers from her health problems and telling her to have at her. But that thought scared me. But by the same token, it thrilled me because the possibilities were endless.

      I'm so very glad to see I'm not the only one who has these problems. I just look at so many other dolls and almost envy the creativity their owners have. I don't know how I got this way, but I really appreciate everyone's insight on how to change it. I think breaking this barrier will help me in more than just dolls. Releasing the creative flow and not adhering to rules as much will definitely help me become a better person - I just need to find the balance.

      So thank you. I really really appreciate EVERYONE's input! And please, let's keep this going. I think this can help so many others
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