Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun – Creative Ideas to Inspire

Creativity is intelligence having fun Albert einstienCreativity is intelligence having fun ‘ is one of Albert Einstiens most famous quotes and I cannot think of a better quote for artists and cartoonists.

Artistic creativity is a wonderful feeling for an artist…most of the time.  Occasionally it can become a curse particularly if you rely on the magic tap to turn on and off at will.

When it’s at full throttle there is no better feeling.  When the tap can only produce a measly drip it can be one of the most frustrating feelings you can endure.

Many times have had the misfortune to experience a total lack of creative spark, normally arriving  just when I need it the most.  A deadline is looming for a cartoon, caricature or another piece of artwork and I haven’t a ‘Scooby D0o’ what to do!

There is no easy answer but over the years I have found several ways of overcoming ‘artists block’ which is usually a mental or physical state that tips you off creative kilter.  Here are some of the things that I do to kick start that half of the brain that, at all other times, can find ideas from nowhere.

Build up a library of artists/ cartoonists that inspire you

Over the last 40 years I have collected books, annuals, comics, and newspaper cuttings of the cartoonists and artists that have inspired and shaped my cartooning career.  Not only is it interesting to look at other cartoonist’s lives, ambitions and achievements but also provides huge inspiration and ideas.

The great British cartoonist Carl Giles had a magnificent career with national newspapers Reynolds News and The Daily Express in which he produced cartoons on a daily basis for over 50 years.  He was a master at poking fun at the British way of life and created the Giles Family headed by the abominable but much loved Grandma Giles.

His cartoons were and are still are much loved by the Brits’ and in particular the Royal Family who he ‘lampooned’ with his gentle and subtle wit on a regular basis.

   The cover in my collection of Carl Giles first annual published in 1946

GILES-SIGI have been collecting his Annual collections for some considerable time and have been fortunate to obtain the first edition personally signed by Giles  way back in 1946, just after the Second World War.  

Not only is his drawing technique superb in character creation but his appreciation and execution of architecture is phenomonal.

Each giles annual has a whole years worth of selected cartoons and I have around 40 in my collection.  By flicking through the pages it’s easy to find an idea either for a cartoon situation or a background to use as a rough template.  Some may see this as plagiarism but if you look at any cartoon you will usually be a variation on a theme.  I see it as a spark to get the creative spirit back in the saddle and it works for me!

Get Carl Giles Annuals here…USA

Get Carl Giles Annuals here…UK

mind maps by tony buzenMind mapping techniques to create original cartoon and drawing ideas

When I am looking to create something new and have a theme but not a clue! I use mind mapping to sniff out some great ideas.  

Mind mapping is used mainly for creating a visual way to remember things.  Tony Buzan has been a great exponent of this facinating system which can also be used as a creative tool.  

I start with the theme in the middle of the mind map inside a blue circle then add 4 random subjects around the central theme in red boxes…

mind map template 2

Then I add another 12 random subjects in green ovals with three attached to each of the red boxes…

mind map template 3

From this I pick one subject from the green, one from the red plus the central theme…Here’s an actual example of one I used to produce a cartoon that was published…

My mind map for cartoon creation

I imagined a guide dog playing a trumpet for it’s owner in a music competition and the judges desperatly looking to see if it was breaking the rules.  The resulting cartoon was published in Brass band World Magazine…


It’s a great technique that works for me and can give you a really cool drawing tool to find new cartoons and ideas for your artwork.  I have written a full post on this mind mapping technique if you would like to see more…

Scribbles Scribbles Scribbles !!!

A simple and very effective way to create random cartoon ideas is to use scribbles.  here’s what I do to find ideas…

Get a fresh piece of paper and make random scribbles – don’t try to shape it – just keep it loose and simple and don’t press too hard on the paper…


Now take a long hard look at the scribbles I have created.  If you look closely you should be able to see a fish…


A miserable old woman…


A thief…


And a snail…


With the pencil rubbed out and colored in became…


All out of the same scribble.  I use this technique before I start drawing as it loosens up my mind and tends to get the creative juices going.  It is a fabulous warm up exercise for the artistic muscle.  See my full article on scribbles here…

creativity is intelligence having fun - albert einstien
‘Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun’ – Albert Einstien

Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun – make it even more fun with a cartoon library, mind maps for ideas and scribbles!

I hope you have found this blog post useful.  Generally you won’t need to find inspiration as it’s right there from the top of hour head to the tip of your pen.  When the switch goes off and you have to look for that kick up the backside you might find these techniques useful.

There are plenty of other ways to get artistically inspired but these are some of the main ways in which I get my mind on track, find new ideas and recycle old ideas and they may work for you!