Sep 9, 2021

Overcoming Creative Fatigue: A Conversation with Two Dublin-Based Artists

Two Dublin-based artists discuss the challenges of dealing with creative fatigue

Louisa KlattDeputy Art Editor
Dylan Furdyk for The University Times

Fatigue is a part of many people’s lives, especially since the arrival of the pandemic. This fatigue has served as both a long-term side-effect of the virus itself and a consequence of a prolonged period of social and creative isolation. For working artists, the latter can prove detrimental, and so, many have learned to manage the perils of creative fatigue in a variety of ways.

Dave O’Carroll is a filmmaker and director who produces short films and documentaries about communities, creatives, current affairs, music and art. He is best known for The People We Meet, a series of mini-documentaries about a range of people “who are humble and creative”.

O’Carroll explains that he only found his creative path in the last four to five years. “When you find that path, you don’t get fatigued as much”, he says, adding that, from his experience, feeling creative fatigue was a sign that he needed “to keep going and find out what it was that [he] actually wanted to do”.


The pressure to constantly produce new content can also be a contributing factor to creative fatigue. Alex Reis, a Brazil native who has been living in Ireland for over 10 years, argues that we can’t always ask ourselves to be creative.

A macrame and ceramics artist, Reis admits that his own inspiration “goes up and down”. He sometimes finds it helpful to “do something else that’s maybe going to bring that energy back”, which is convenient, seeing as art is not Reis’ full-time job at the moment. Still, he acknowledges that balancing his time between his job, his passion for art, his husband and his dog Pepi can be difficult at times.

Reis has “a good connection with nature” and loves being outdoors or with his plants, especially when he’s looking for inspiration. “My ideas pretty much come from nature”, he notes. When feeling creative fatigue, he also recommends searching for images of different artworks on the internet to become inspired again. “That’s how I started with macrame”, he confesses. “I watched videos on YouTube.”

O’Carroll recalls that when the pandemic started, “creative people were trying to show that they could still create art”, even in the monotony of lockdown. “That really put a lot of pressure on me”, he admits. Nevertheless, a year and a half later, he says that he is finally “the right amount of busy” again.

The creative process is often described in abstract terms, such as incubation or ideation, but how does it work in practical terms? “I don’t really have a routine”, O’Carroll reveals. He sees himself as “more of a night person”, but often goes against this instinct and works “much more of a normal week”. He compares the flow of creative inspiration to a wave and promotes the idea that budding creatives should “try to learn to ride the wave”. O’Carroll also recommends turning an idea into a series because “you learn and you are changing and you are evolving all the time” and this way people “get to see your development”.

Both artists also stress the importance of a supportive creative community. This could be a group of artistic friends holding you accountable or a wider community for your artistic genre.

You can find out more about Dave O’Carroll and Alex Reis’ work on their Instagram profiles (@dave_thepeoplewemeet) and (@the_macrame_man).

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