How Ancient Symbolism Reignited My Inspiration to Draw Again

I’ve been feeling a lack of inspiration or motivation to draw lately. I still feel the drive to be creative, but I’ve been writing more than drawing these past few months.

Drawing was my first love as an artist though, and I still believe it’s my primary passion. So why does drawing feel empty and shallow to me now?

Last week I decided to dig deeper into this question, and I’ve come to a conclusion: I feel like my drawings have become pointless or insubstantial.

For the last 2 years, I was drawing for hours each day to complete my Layla and the Bots graphic novel series. Those drawings felt purposeful and meaningful, not only because I had a professional contract to fulfill, but also because I was an integral part of telling an important story. That book series was sharing a message of problem-solving, creativity, girl power, and also helping create new, independent readers. So, when I was drawing those pictures, I felt full of purpose and meaning.

But then in early 2021, I finished the four books. And so, I was back to drawing random, one-off characters in my sketchbook. In contrast to such obvious purpose in my book illustrations, my sketchbook drawings now felt empty. What was the point of drawing a fictional witch character and posting it on Instagram, where a few people saw it once and then probably never thought about it again? What is that drawing doing? What am I doing? Why am I drawing anything at all?

Once I realized that lack of purpose was perhaps what was causing my drawing creative block and that I missed drawing and wanted to begin drawing more again, I considered how I could address the issue. The solution I’ve been experimenting with is exploring the world of visual symbols. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been looking into ancient symbolic imagery from different cultures like Tibetan Buddhism, Greek and Norse mythology, Christianity, and more.

Humans have been using symbols to communicate ideas for centuries, and these ancient symbols are now inherently imbued with meaning themselves. Through the process of drawing them, I can tap into and channel that deep meaning myself as well.

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