How to Generate Ideas for Your Artworks: 12 Resources

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How to Generate Ideas for Your Artworks 12 Resources

Increase your chances of getting into arts college by learning how to generate ideas for pieces to be included in your portfolio.

One of the biggest problems that aspiring art students face is coming up with unique ideas for the pieces to be included in their art portfolio.

As part of college admission, art and design programs request for applicants to submit an art portfolio. It is a collection of artworks that display the skills of students who wish to get into college and pursue a career as an artist in the future.

However, it won’t be enough that they have proficient skills if they do not present fresh concepts in their artworks. To impress art and design colleges, applicants must showcase a balance between great artistic skills and great ideas in their work.

If you plan on applying to colleges soon, then you must start learning how to generate ideas for your artworks. Doing this will allow you to unlock your true potential as an artist, as well as increase your chances of getting into your choice of art or design program in college!

Below are some of the best online resources that will help you to come with ideas for pieces to create in your portfolio. Click on the title to open a new window and read the resource.

1. How to Find Painting Ideas

While the article is most beneficial to aspiring painters,‘s resident painting expert Marion Boddy-Evans nonetheless paints a pretty comprehensive painting on how to generate ideas for all artists out there. She discusses how to list down your options on a piece of paper, writing down your ideas in a sketchbook, get inspired by your environment, and other helpful tips.

2. How to Develop Concepts

User Famz from Shadowness shares her thought process on how she conceptualizes ideas for her artwork. The article talks about how to brainstorm for ideas, why you should always carry a notebook wherever you go, how to analyze the ideas you’ve come up so far, and other advice.

[Tweet when coming up with concepts or, if an idea just sparked, write it down!]

3. How to Come Up with Creative Ideas (5 Step Creative Process)

Is your idea creative enough to be turned into an artwork unlike anything before it? Here are five steps from DesignCrowd to help you gauge the freshness of your idea. Take note that the article is geared towards creative professionals with clients to satisfy. However, the steps presented here can be used by aspiring to help them generate ideas for their art.

4. Ask the Art Professor: How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?

Clara Lieu, Visual Artist and Professor at Rhode Island School of Design

Clara Lieu. Click here to view image source.

Clara Lieu, a visual artist and professor at Rhode Island School of Design, excellently details her thought process when developing her sketches into an artwork. She shares her brainstorming process and how she draws small thumbnail sketches of her ideas before making them into larger sketches.

Also, Clara takes questions from art students and answers them in her column Ask the Art Professor over at Huffington Post. Make sure to read all her articles from there.

5. Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration

One of the best ways to learn how to generate ideas for your art is to find those who have been successful at it and received widespread acclaim. In this post from The Guardian, artists from different fields (including playwright Polly Stenham, composer Mark-Anthony Turnage, singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright, artist Isaac Julien, and others) narrate their process on how they come up with their ideas for their craft.

6. The Secrets of Generating Art Ideas: An Inside Out Art Curriculum

In order to understand what makes an idea creative and fresh, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the art teacher. This comprehensive essay at Marvin Bartel documents the different teaching methods and grading systems that art instructors used to assess the creativity of students.


Here’s another extremely helpful post on generate and develop ideas to be turned into works of art from Student Art Guide. Aside from teaching students how to brainstorm and evaluate art ideas (which has a great flowchart infographic on gauging ideas), the author also addresses questions from students and give suggestions on how they can improve in coming up with ideas for their artworks.

8. 7 Steps to Developing Originality in Your Design and Illustration Work

This tutorial article by Sean Hodge at Tuts+ acknowledges the fact that originality stems from inspiration and influence. Because of this, there is a tendency for artists to become derivative to their source materials because of too much influence. However, it’s simply a matter of having the right amount of drive, passion, and discovery to turn that inspiration into a unique idea for your art.

9. Cool Drawing and Painting Ideas to Stimulate Your Creative Spirit

Here are specific creative ideas from Artpromotivate that you may consider turning into an artwork. You can try these out as exercises in your sketchbook to develop your creativity and build your confidence in coming up with your own brazen ideas soon.

10. 6 Highly Effective Ways to Generate College Art Portfolio Ideas

7 Highly Effective Ways to Generate Ideas for Your College Art Portfolio

Come up with ideas for your art portfolio that will make you go “eureka!” to boost your chances of getting into arts college.

Here’s a post from PortPrep Blog that’s specifically written for applicants to art and design programs in college. The article encourages students to publish their works online and receive comments from other artists. These should help them generate ideas and figure out ways on how they can improve their technique.

11. Making an Artistic Impact – The Creative Inspiration Process in Building Your Art Portfolio

Another post from PortPrep Blog, this massive article explains how you can grab the attention of your audience with your artwork. This is achieved by refining the thought process of students to come up with creative inspiration for the pieces in their portfolio.


Do you know an online resources that also teaches art students how to generate ideas for pieces to be included in their portfolio? Share them by commenting below!

Don’t miss the chance on generating more fresh ideas!

Summoning Creativity

The “Summoning Creativity” course will take place on July 22-24, 2014 (11am-5pm) at the PortPrep Studios in Guelph, ON and costs $175CAD.

Enroll to the “Summoning Creativity: How to Brain Storm Unique and Out of the Box Ideas” course taught by “The Admission Insider” and PortPrep owner Karen Kesteloot. She will teach you how to brainstorm for ideas and develop them to become groundbreaking artworks that will wow college professors!

The course is part of the Drawn to Success Portfolio Building Boot Camp that aims to help students boost their chances of getting into arts college by improving their artistic skills to help them create a winning art portfolio.

The “Summoning Creativity” course will take place on July 22-24, 2014 (11am-5pm) at the PortPrep Studios in Guelph, ON and costs $175CAD.

To purchase this course, click on the Buy Now button below!

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