Moving on with my research, I conducted four in-depth interviews with three amateur artists as well as one professional artist to get an insight on how people experience art block and how they currently engage with the craft of drawing. The professional illustrator’s interview was really insightful in terms of giving me information on how they managed to overcome the issues many amateur artists currently have, and how it affected their personal career path.

I got a lot of interesting information that will surely be useful later during the project as well.

Some of the core key insights that I’m currently going to focus on are:

  • People have different approaches to what helps them to overcome an art block: some need time and a chance to draw casually, stay on their comfort zone and relax. Others need a structured approach with schedules and deadlines in order to keep drawing.
  • Both amateur and professional illustrators suffer from external pressure, but professionals have the mindset to overcome it.
  • Amateur illustrators have high standards that create extra pressure to draw only ”finished” pieces, making it difficult to actually start drawing anything.
  • Amateur artists don’t see the value of doing only small or ”casual” sketches, whereas people who have managed to overcome art block and other difficulties noted that it’s really valuable to see that even the small things contribute to the overall improvement.
  • Finding time to draw is really difficult.
  • It’s easier to start drawing with a familiar medium and subjects, as well as drawing established characters.
  • Seeing the hard work pay off makes people feel accomplished.
  • Changing attitude is the key – not measuring personal value through the drawings, but perceiving drawing as a craft that can be improved.
  • All interviewees use their phone to look for references when drawing.

I created two Personas (loosely based on the interviews) in order to help me target the project better:


Initial research

artblockquestion kopio

To continue my research on the area of drawing and illustration, I conducted an extensive online survey as many amateur artists mostly communicate and showcase their work online. The survey focused on the platforms and communities that hobbyists and professional artists use to inspire, create and promote their work.

Some key insights I identified from the survey were:

  • All of the research participants relied on self-directed study and online resources,
 and all of them agreed they have had a positive impact on their artwork.
  • Most stated that the software or materials they are using for their artwork are already expensive, and thus they look for free resources using mostly Google.
  • People found it difficult to come up with ideas for art at least sometimes, and  majority had experiences of both an ”art block” –– which is a sustained state of having trouble producing art, and of a ”fear of white paper” –– which is a difficulty to start creating due to insecurity about their skills or ideas.

The survey also provided many smaller interesting insights on the artist online communities and confidence when it comes to creating and publishing artwork. I’m sure this survey will help me with this project in the future again with smaller details, but for now I identified the key user pains and the needs based on them.


  • It’s difficult to describe reference needs to Google.
  • Not able to access expensive resources.
  • Searching for resources takes time from drawing.
  • Difficulty to come up with ideas for work.
  • Lack of confidence for own work.


  • Affordable or free options.
  • Time efficiency when it comes to practising their skills
  • Inspiration and courage to start drawing
  • Moments of ”small victories” or something to boost their confidence.
  • Exercises to help produce work that is ’finished’ instead of ’perfected’.
  • Ways to express more accurate descriptions of the resources they need to search engines, or other means to access them.

Followed by the survey, I did secondary research on the existing applications and platforms aimed at helping artists, and found out that the existing services are either expensive, too specific or rely on very basic features with no customisation options. Also none of these services focus on easing the art block or negative thinking of one’s work specifically, 
 which is something I want my service to take into account.

Thus I further defined my project outline into the following:

A service that helps amateur artists to come up with new ideas, gain more confidence in their work and find the resources that support their ideas more easily. It will make the self directed practise more streamlined while promoting a positive outlook on the artists own work.

It aims to help people feel more at ease when drawing and to finish their work through focusing on the act of drawing itself, instead of getting too caught on perfectionism and expectations.

The service will also take into account the different approaches people need when trying to overcome art block by allowing them to flex between challenging and lighter prompts.

The beginning of the honours year


I’m excited to get back to work once again after a refreshing summer in Finland. The time has passed really quickly after moving to the UK, and it’s strange to think that this is the fourth year already. Although I’m not sure what exactly I want to focus on after the university, I have strong desire to create digital products and for this project I’d like to do something that focuses more on the visual user interfaces without forgetting the intuitive interactions.

The best way for me to start creating ideas is by talking to people – in this case a friend who shares the same passion for drawing and arts as I do. Drawing and painting is a dear hobby to me and thus creating a digital project around it provides an interesting and an enjoyable challenge.
The area of illustration and drawing provides many design opportunities, but in order for me to find out the more refined needs for design products and services I will delve into research right away.