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5-Day Art Boot Camp Challenge

The lure of warmer summer temperatures and trips to sparkling bodies of water have started to become irresistible, and it’s easy to lose focus on your current creative projects. More time spent outdoors often results in significantly less time and effort being put into art projects—especially digital projects or larger pieces that do not allow for portability. In order to keep yourself motivated and to continue creating audience-ready pieces, you’re going to have to increase your focus and make a conscious effort to continue investing in your craft. To help you do this, we challenge you to complete Art Boot Camp: five days of serious art action (or inaction…read on to find out more).

What’s Art Boot Camp?

Art Boot Camp is an intensive self-directed, self-paced art challenge that offers you fun and demanding ways to reconnect with your craft. It’s even better if you invite friends to join you. You might find enlistees in your personal network or your broader social media network. Each day for a span of five days, you will complete a daily challenge that tests your creative limits and keeps you motivated.

What supplies do I need to participate?

The best part of the Art Boot Camp Challenge is that it inspires creatives in any craft. Whether you plan to focus on completing some audio mixes that have been lounging in your studio a bit too long or putting the final touches on a painting, the challenges will be applicable to your craft—no special supplies or preparation necessary.

Ready to report for duty? Let’s go!

Tidy up your studio and prepare yourself for five days of hard work…and supercharged creativity.

­Day One

Think of your first challenge as a marathon. Make sure to clear your schedule for the day—or at least a period of 12 straight waking hours. At the top of your first of 12 hours, use your microwave timer, your alarm clock, or any other timekeeping device and set the timer for 15 minutes. Rush to your studio and work feverishly until the timer goes off. When the timer sounds, drop everything. No, really. Everything. Don’t make one more keystroke or one more pen mark. Stand up or otherwise remove yourself from your work area immediately.

Every hour for the next 11, you will complete the same 15-minute process. At the end of your 12-hour marathon, you will have spent a total of three hours on your project. Pat yourself on the back! It was a tough Day One!

Skill Focus: Re-engaging your creativity despite interruption; increased ability to critique your work after spending time away from it; general endurance

Day Two

If yesterday was the marathon, today is the sprint. No timer is necessary for today’s challenge. Instead, you are going to sit down and prepare to engage in your craft for one solid, uninterrupted chunk of time without stopping. No breaks to walk around. No breaks to refresh supplies. No. Breaks. At. All. If you are a digital artist, don’t let those your keystrokes or mouse maneuvering stop for more than five seconds at the time. If you are a painter, don’t let your brush lift from the canvas for more than five seconds at the time. You get the point.

Keep working non-stop for as long as you can. Challenge yourself to remain in a brain dump-style creative mode for at least 30 minutes. If you think you can go longer, continue working, but when you decide to take a break, pack it up for the day.

Skill Focus: Searching deep for creativity; overcoming overthinking; willingness to experiment

Day Three

Today you will get the chance to experiment with the way your emotions and other distractions can influence your work. Every creative has an Achilles heel, one that can distract them even at their most creative points. Whether your distraction is television, music, talking, or even your romantic partner, put yourself in a situation where you are going to have to continue creating despite these interruptions. Blare the TV or radio, stream a podcast whose hosts have annoying voices, invite over your boyfriend or girlfriend and encourage them to constantly interrupt your creative process.

Try to stay focused on your project for 2 solid hours despite your chosen annoyance. If you get frustrated, channel those feelings into your creation.

Skill Focus: Maintaining focus; translating emotion into inspiration

Day Four

Day Four may be the hardest day of the challenge. Today, your job is to do absolutely nothing creative. Try to avoid every single decision that requires creative input. Stay away from deciding what makeup to apply and what to cook for breakfast. Have a friend or partner handle decisions that rely on creativity. Don’t pick up a writing utensil. Avoid talking on the phone or otherwise engaging your brain. Today, veg out. Turn on Netflix and binge-watch a new TV series (but choose which one ahead of time). Disconnect from your craft today.

Without fail, the more you attempt to avoid being creative, the more inspired you will become. As ideas and other concepts come to you, you can ask another person to jot them down for you without elaborating on the details, or you can store them mentally for tomorrow’s challenge.

Skill Focus: Unorthodox sources of inspiration; separating yourself from your craft

Day Five

You have made it to the final day of the challenge! There is little doubt you are bursting at the seams with inspiration from your day of rest yesterday. Get started by spending 20 minutes at the beginning of your work session to brain dump all of the ideas that you weren’t able to write down or develop yesterday.

With these undoubtedly exceptional ideas in mind, today’s challenge is to bring a project to completion. Select a project that you have been working on and need to close out. Alternatively, begin an entirely new project that you are confident you can complete in one day.

Skill Focus: Reigniting your creative spark; dedicating yourself to completion

You’ve graduated from Art Boot Camp…for now

Now that you have successfully completed Art Boot Camp, remember the way these challenges made you feel and how they affected your work. As summer’s distraction creep in, don’t hesitate to pull out these new tools from your creativity management toolbox.

Want more tips on art inspiration? Check out these articles.