Do you ever wish that you could create something you're truly proud of? What about wishing that you could express yourself in a way everyone else would understand?
Even if you're the most rational, analytical person alive, you still have a creative streak. Everyone has thoughts and feelings and experiences that they want to communicate. And even if you don't have anything specific to say, the process of creating something can be fantastic for your mental health.
There are a lot of artistic hobbies that you can try without needing to break the bank. Many of them start with basics, and you can find endless tutorials and guides on the internet.
You might try one hobby and find that it isn't for you. That's okay! Just because one creative outlet doesn't work for your brain doesn't mean that others won't. Being an artist isn't just about drawing or painting. It's also about writing, sculpting, decorating, thinking, designing, and reshaping the world around you.
You may find that a hobby isn't for you, but in your exploration, you may also find a different activity that makes you happy.
I've done some exploring of the reasons to develop artistic hobbies. Then I've offered ideas for twelve different places to start - or to expand upon your existing knowledge.
Artistic Hobbies: Why They're Important - Even for Non-Artists
Maybe you're a corporate executive, a small business owner, or an analytical scientist. Maybe you're not interested in telling stories or creating world-shattering art. That's not only okay, it's also a great place to start.
The thing about artistic hobbies is that you have to stop the mental pressure. Many artists struggle with a constant internal voice that criticizes, nitpicks, and languishes. It says that you need to be changing the world with your art, or at least that you need to make good art.
So here's the first tip: Don't create for an audience. Create for yourself.
The second tip: Don't get upset if the final product is different from what you envisioned.
A good creative hobby is one that you enjoy doing. You should like the process of creating. You should enjoy making the final product. Chances are that you already spend time working with a job or career that has tons of stressful demands; why would you impose more stressful demands on your leisure time?
Don't think, "I have to make something great." All you need to think is, "I want to enjoy making something." The end result doesn't matter.
Once you have that mindset, creativity has a ton of measurable benefits.
1. It's a Confidence Boost
What? I hear you say. Didn't you just tell me not to create for an audience?
Yes! But here's the wonderful thing: You don't have to show your work to an audience to feel more confident!
When you get creative, you're having agency over your own life. You're saying the following things:
It can be hard to say these things to yourself consciously. But making time to be creative and enjoy yourself is a quieter way of affirming yourself. By showing yourself that your time and perspective are valuable, you become more confident in what you have to offer.
It doesn't matter how skilled you are, how much time you spend on the creativity, whether you ever show your work to other people, or whether you even like the finished product. The big thing is that you care about yourself.
2. Creativity keeps the mind sharp
Imagination and problem-solving actually go hand-in-hand. It's common for more science-oriented individuals to buy into the idea that creativity and science are separate. But the two should always be linked.
You want to exercise your brain on a regular basis, no matter your age. As you get older, that becomes even more vital. Keeping your mind sharp helps to protect against memory loss, dementia, depression, and other neurological and psychiatric conditions.
By keeping your brain focused, you stay in mental touch with the world. And you stay in touch with yourself as well.
Taking the time for creativity allows you to think outside the box. There's no mental pressure, either, unlike job-related scenarios that require quick problem solving. You have complete freedom to work however you want, whenever you want, on whatever you want.
These are just a few cognitive benefits that creative pursuits have:
3. Creative thinking will help you in more analytical pursuits, too
This goes hand-in-hand with the sharpening of your mind. You can think, solve problems, and plan projects faster. You have an easier time seeing situations from multiple perspectives.
But artistry isn't the only thing that can help with that. Plenty of puzzles, video games, and traditional strategy games help flex your mental muscles.
Being creative gives you an advantage that you don't get with puzzles, though: Your ability to think becomes unlimited.
With a puzzle, you have to solve everything in a methodical way. Maybe there's a trick to it that you need to figure out, or you need to shift the perspective. Different puzzles test the mind in different ways.
But when you're working creatively, there's no pre-built structure. There's no puzzle to solve. There's just an open canvas, blank page, mound of clay, or undecorated space. You can do whatever you want in it.
By working with that kind of open-ended area, you gain the following skills:
Whether you're doing scientific studies or advancing a company into the business world, all of these things will help you structure and handle your career needs.
4. You'll have a chance to meet new people
Many artistic hobbies are solitary. You might not want to share with anyone. Maybe you don't want to meet anyone else - you just want to enjoy yourself quietly at your kitchen table and then go to bed.
But when you start a new hobby, you have a fantastic opportunity for community. You can meet like-minded individuals, see what they're working on, exchange ideas, and encourage each other.
These are just a few of the ways that you might connect with people through your new hobby:
Making friends as an adult is difficult. It's hard to find shared interests, and you need to spend multiple hours with people before you develop a camaraderie. That's why finding people through shared interests is so great.
If you share a hobby, you immediately have common ground to connect over!
5. It's impossible to mentally stagnate when you're constantly learning new things
Any artistic hobby requires a process of learning. Whether you're painting, sculpting, decorating, interior designing, gardening, writing, creating digital works, or doing any other creative activity, you'll constantly be learning new things.
Even if you dabble in the hobby without using any tutorials, guides, or classes, you'll still have a learning experience.
Some of the ways that hobbies help you learn include:
Your art doesn't have to be "good." In fact, you shouldn't go into any relaxing hobby with a lot of personal pressure to be good at it.
But you will find that as you learn, you become better at creating what you want. Your methods lead to an execution that's closer to what you pictured in your head.
Since your brain is growing and changing and adapting throughout this process, you don't stagnate. You'll be less bored by your day-to-day life, and you'll be more excited about what the future holds.
6. Your stress can be expressed and relieved in a healthy way
If you're a human being, you're probably stressed.
That goes especially for people who live in the United States and other countries with very fast-paced work environments. A forty-hour work week can leave you drained, and many jobs have their own individual stresses. That's without even factoring in familial, environmental, financial, and social stresses.
Without a way to express or balance the stress, your body will suffer. Not only are there mental effects like depression and shortened concentration, but constantly-heightened adrenaline can have detrimental physical effects, too.
Creative hobbies let you vent and explore your stress. They allow you to build and destroy whatever you want. They allow you to put dramatic colors on canvases or harsh words on paper. Rather than bottling all the stress up inside you, you weave it into your art.
7. Multiple studies show that creativity improves overall mental health
Engaging in creative thinking and artistic pursuits will almost certainly improve your mental health.
Studies have shown that there are positive effects on nearly every aspect of mental health.
Just some of the benefits associated with creative hobbies include:
You might not "click" with the first activity you try. If you find yourself frustrated or uninspired, that doesn't mean you're doomed! You just haven't found your creative outlet yet. Be open to trying a variety of different things.
8. Creative hobbies give you a new way to communicate
Chances are that you text, type, write, and speak to communicate. You might know more than one language, or you might speak your native tongue alone.
But conversation isn't the only way to communicate your thoughts and feelings.
Sometimes feelings are more abstract, which makes them difficult to describe in words. Alternatively, sometimes thoughts can only be captured in poetic verse, rather than the formal tone of an email.
If you have trouble explaining how you feel, you can use your art to express that instead. And even if some people don't understand it, others will recognize that feeling in themselves. They'll think, "I have a real connection with this artist. We have some of the same experiences."
This is actually a big part of creative therapies. Music therapists help people to connect and express themselves through music. Art therapists do the same for art. This is a big deal, especially for individuals who have trouble communicating through verbal or written speech.
With all of these benefits established, here are 12 hobby ideas to start unlocking your inner artist.
12 Hobby Ideas to Start Unlocking Your Inner Artist
1. Diamond Painting and Glass Painting
Glass painting is a way of using different kinds of paint on glass textures. Some people paint glass sculptures to create 3D art, while others paint windows or tables or other flat sheets.
Diamond painting is a twist on glass painting. Rather than painting real diamonds or glass, the technique combines Paint by Numbers with cross-stitch patterns. You also don't use liquid paint. Instead, you glue tiny "diamonds" made of resin to a color-coded canvas.
The result is a mosaic painting. Because you only need to follow instructions, this is great for people who want a therapeutic hands-on hobby that doesn't require too much brainpower. And if you do prefer creativity, you can alter the patterns or create your own.
2. Vinyl Cutting
Vinyl cutting is done using a machine called a vinyl cutter. It lets you cut out complex vinyl designs and pieces of projects to be fitted together.
But vinyl cutters are good for more than literal vinyl. They make a fantastic creative investment because of how versatile they are. Some other things the machine does include:
3. Sewing with Coverstitch Machines
A coverstitch machine is a type of sewing machine that works well with knitted fabrics. Average sewing machines struggle to create a streamlined, cohesive hem. By using a coverstitch machine, you make it much easier to hem your knitted garments.
Coverstitch machines are fairly versatile as well. The majority of them can use one, two, and three needle combinations. There's also a looper located underneath. That means that in addition to handling knitted hems, the machine also performs the same tasks as most average sewing machines.
Just keep in mind that you'll need to learn how to configure the settings for the project you're doing.
4. Sewing by Hand
Sewing by hand is a more old-fashioned pursuit. Most people these days use a sewing machine because of the quicker turnaround. It's rare for anyone to sew anything larger than a tiny rip by hand.
That makes this a tactile artistic hobby that you should take up if you like the feeling. There's something satisfying about pulling a needle through thread and watching the fruits of your labors come together.
Hand sewing does also offer some flexibility that you don't get with sewing machines.
Embroidery is an art form that has existed for centuries. Though it's a disciplined practice, it's not difficult to learn the basics, making it good for people who want to use a needle and thread.
When you embroider, you use thread or yarn to create patterns, images, and artwork on fabric or canvas. Some people embroider cushions or even entire pieces of furniture!
There are a variety of basic stitches to learn. But from there, you can either use pre-created patterns or experiment with your own. You might be surprised by the number of incredible embroidery designs you find on the internet.
6. Painting with Non-Traditional Mediums
There are a ton of unbelievably cool effects you can create with glow-in-the-dark paint. You can paint objects and decorations so they glow when the lights turn off. But you can also use fluorescent paint to create night skies and galaxies that only appear when it's dark. What about hidden messages? Secret patterns?
Other non-traditional mediums can be used to create pictures, too. At first glance, they might look like they've been painted.
Some artists have done amazing work with unconventional materials including:
7. Painting on Large Canvases
Nothing makes you feel more like an artist than setting up a drop cloth and an upright painting easel. Maybe you want to start small, using a sketchbook or a pad of miniature pages. But if you want more room to work, or you want to make a more dramatic statement, you'll have a great time painting in large spaces.
Large canvases have a lot more room for detail. They also let you do more exploring, experimenting, and adjusting. Some canvases can be wiped clean before they dry, so you can reuse them again and again.
It's also nice to use an easel in a room full of natural light. Direct sunlight is the best way to view colors, since it acts as an "equalizer."
8. Making Your Own Paint
Maybe you don't want to buy pigments and materials from the craft store. You're more interested in the artistry of the paints themselves. How many people can say their artwork comes from paints they created from scratch?
You can do science experiments to create different pigments, thicknesses, effects, and other elements.
These are five types of paint that can be easily mixed:
Different paints are used for different things, and you should always follow safety precautions. For example, the wall paint is flour-based, but it's meant for drywall rather than canvas. The chalk paint is built for furniture.
You should always wear a dust mask when you mix acrylics or oil paints.
9. Charcoal and Graphite Sketching
Charcoal and graphite are two of the most popular mediums for black-and-white sketching. There are hundreds of different techniques. You can find guides for how to apply different thicknesses, how to blend charcoal, and how to shade with graphite.
These materials can be used to make grayscale versions of pretty much anything you might paint. Detailed nature scenes, domestic home scenes, portraits of people, still lifes, abstract shapes - you can render black-and-white versions of them all.
10. Lettering and Stenciling
Lettering and stenciling can be quite fun.
Maybe you're painting animals or shapes onto a wall. Maybe you're writing a phrase on a poster and need to make sure the letters are uniform. Maybe you're designing a complex image. Maybe you're incorporating cut-out stencil shapes into your canvas art.
Stencils let you:
Letter stencils can be used to create any sentence, phrase, or word you want.
11. Wall Painting and Interior Decorating
Some of the wall painting opportunities will depend on where you live. Many rented apartments won't allow you to paint the walls, but you can do whatever you want with an owned home.
Wall painting can be very soothing. You move back and forth between the broad roller strokes and the more detailed brushwork around light switches, baseboards, and door frames.
Interior decorating also lets you access your creative potential, with or without the painted walls. You can come up with creative placements for your furniture, artwork, and decorations. This can make your home stylish, cozy, themed, eclectic, artistic, or any number of other descriptors!
Not everyone will enjoy the creation of visual art pieces like sculptures, paintings, and sketches. And you might not be engineering-oriented, or you might struggle with thread-related exploits.
Writing is a different kind of pursuit. It uses words rather than images or materials. You can type your words, but there is a certain pleasure to writing longhand with a pencil or pen.
There are dozens of types of writing. Some that you might explore include:
Every person has a creative side that's waiting to be expressed. Some people find creativity easier than others. But it doesn't matter how easily imagination comes to you. What matters is finding the medium that makes you enjoy the process of creating.
You don't have to be afraid that your final products won't be "good." That's why it's a hobby and not a profession! Every one of these activities begins with basics that you then build on. That means you get to learn and challenge your brain on a daily basis.
As long as you enjoy what you're doing, then you can feel proud of what you make at the end. These hobbies are a great way to engage with hands-on activities, which is vital when so much of our daily interaction comes from a flat screen.