A very simple word that can mean so much. Everyone got it, but not everyone knows how to truly get in touch with it, how to expand it, how to use it. There's no simple answer for this, no handbook, i'm simply going to share some things that worked for me, that made me a better artist.
Probably the most important thing there is when it comes to developing is to let loose. You won't be able to find all the depths and layers of your imagination unless you dare to search for them. If you step out of your comfort zone you might feel a bit awkward at first, like you don't know what on earth you're doing and that the end result can't be anything other than BAD. And to be honest, you might be right! That's not what matters though, you must be able to make errors and try things that just don't work for you in order to find the things that does. Some of it is hidden very well, and every time you try something new you're one step closer to it! If you're feeling uncomfortable trying something completely new I would advice to take baby steps. Try something SLIGHTLY different, mix it into your normal "routine" and take it from there. You might be surprised what you will end up creating:)
2. Let the art guide you.
Often when I start my art I realize that i'm following my original idea so religiously that i'm suffocating all emotion in it. If I want to create a piece with character and feeling I must learn how to follow the voice of what i'm actually creating. It might sound silly to "listen" to a voice of a picture, of an idea, but deep down I think you're listening to your own vision, your own heart. Sometimes your original idea just does not work and the picture want to take a different direction. Then listen....let it lead you for a bit and see where you end up. If you don't like it you can always go back.
3. Have some faith in your vision
I can not count the times I have been ready to throw out every piece of art I ever made just cause my latest work didn't live up to my expectations. I'm most likely just one of many that can be so self critical that suddenly NOTHING I do is right. I can see one thing I don't like and instead of focusing on improving THAT part, I decide that everything is bad, wrong and just terrible and then I give up. I didn't realize how much i'm pushing myself down by aiming for something I never even liked in the first place, perfection. Once I let go of all this self criticism, I ended up in many cases actually appreciating the "flaws". If I for some reason still couldn't do that I simply worked on what I wasen't happy with, without giving up on the entire idea. It's all about focusing, knowing WHAT to focus on. I have found that the times I didn't give up on my vision, the end result have surprised me. I took my art to places I never been before and I loved it!
Try to remember that you started creating something because of a vision you believed it. Do not give up on it.
4. Dare to mess up.
The one thing that has made me a better artist is my errors. I would not have been able to reach the heights I have without going places in my art where I chose not to return. Every day that passes by I learn more about me, my art, what I want to create. I learn this by creating what I am not that happy with. Everything that ends up in the trash is an important piece of knowledge, a discovery. In the beginning I was so frustrated every time I had to make something all over again that I often gave up on the whole thing completely. Now I simply start over, knowing what DOES NOT work. And then I create something that please me.
5. Have fun!
Art is about self expression, joy, life! Of course it's not always about happiness, it can in many cases be the complete opposite. What art always is though, is emotional. Whatever feeling you're following, don't fear it, let it lead you. Enjoy what you're doing, your heart must be THERE. You won't be able to create something amazing if you're not feeling it. It won't be real, it won't have the magic. Let yourself go, create, live, laugh, cry, and believe in your vision in the same way your vision believe in YOU.
Art is something extremely personal but we can still learn so much from each other. What works for me might not work for you and the other way around but we should never stop trying to improve. We will never reach perfection and to be honest I don't think we even want that. But there will always be more things for us to discover, to learn, to love. Every day that goes by is a lesson in itself, the most beautiful kind of lesson. And we should enjoy each and every one of them:)