Unconventional Art

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Creativity Prompts

Stretch Your Creativity: Create Unconventional Art

By Maria Chatzi | January 21, 2019

Unconventional ArtFrom time to time, we all need a creative break to help us stretch our creativity and get over our creative blocks. I've tried various approaches and found that one of the best ways to open myself up to creative potential is by exploring unconventional art.

This exploration is a fun and exciting experience, intriguing and challenging at times, which hones our creative skills and craft. It results in a more unique and authentic style in our creative work because new ways of perceiving things and expressing ourselves always help us come up with fresh and bold ideas.

So, how about taking a break and stretching your creativity with unconventional art?

First, you must consider whether the art you are going to create will be unconventional in terms of:

  • medium
  • tools
  • materials
  • creative process
  • technique or
  • method

You can combine two or more from the above list, but the more you combine the higher the level of difficulty, especially if you are new to unconventional art.

Also, a good idea is to first explore and experiment with the type of unconventional art that speaks to your soul and, later, move on to the kind you dislike. Working on what inspires you is strongly motivating but working with what you dislike strengthens your determination and self-confidence as a creative artist. In both cases, try to create something that is meaningful to you, related to your emotions, your memories, your dreams and desires, and your personal relationships.

Following is a random list of some artists whose work you can find online, for you to get acquainted with various forms of unconventional art. Some of the artists on this list you may have heard of and seen their artwork. Of course, there are other unconventional artists, famous or not, whose work is equally impressive with the creations of those listed below. I suggest you go on a scavenger-hunt, online and offline (visit libraries, galleries, exhibitions and art museums), to complete the list with the missing names of those other unconventional creatives — and keep adding over time to make the list as long as possible. Hint: If you have a friend or neighbor who creates unconventional art add their name (followed by what they create) to the list too.

Unconventional Artists

# Artist Art
1 Andres Amador creates beach art
2 Kseniya Simonova creates sand art animations
3 Yusuke Asai creates mud painting murals
4 Sarah Rosado creates with soil and sticks, cereals, coffee beans
5 Florian Pucher creates carpets from aerial photos
6 Scott Wade creates scenes from dust on car windows
7 Gentry creates obsolete technology art
8 Mike Bernard paints with cardboard on canvas
9 Sophie Munns paints with string on canvas
10 Fabienne Verdier paints with a mop
11 Iris Scott paints with her fingers
12 Zaria Forman paints with her hands
13 Janine Antoni paints with her hair, mouth, eyelashes, other body parts
14 Guido Daniele paints animals on human hands
15 May Sum creates lipstick sculptures
16 Simon Beck creates frozen lake art
17 Tisha Cherry creates food art
18 Jane Perkins creates found objects art
19 Joe Mangrum creates sand paintings on sidewalks and galleries
20 Linda Heath creates prints from fish rubbings
21 Maurizio Savini creates sculptures with chewed bubble gum
22 Damon Belanger creates street art with fake shadows
23 Sue Webster, Tim Noble, and Kumi Yamashita create shadow art with various solid and discarded objects
24 Michael Breach, Nowtoo Sugi, and Akira Toriyama create milk foam art in cups of coffee
25 Lor-K creates giant street food-sculptures by recycling waste and discarded mattresses
26 Mbongeni Buthelezi creates portraits and other wall art with plastic bag strips
27 Nikolai Beyer creates shoe art from meat, vegetables and chocolate
28 Wim Delvoye creates sculpted and carved art on tractor tires
29 Ana Teresa Barboza creates embroidery art that defies boundaries
30 Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene creates cross-stitch patterns unto buckets, utensils and cars
21 Matthew Cox creates embroidery art on X-ray films
32 Laura Pixley creates fork jewelry
33 Satoru Aoyama and Aline Brant create embroidery art on photographs

Art Project Ideas

Unconventional ArtTo get you started, here are some ideas for unconventional art projects to create individually or in collaboration with a friend:

  • Look in your kitchen for objects to incorporate, as elements, in your artwork. Such objects could be: lids, utensils, bottle openers, silver foil, baking paper, toothpicks, matches, bottle corks and other stoppers, packaging of all types, etc.

    You can also use them as unconventional tools, to make interesting marks in ceramic art and in paintings, as well as to apply paint or texture paste. Fabrics, eco-paper, wooden boards, pieces of recycled metal sheet, all make a great base or canvas, if your art needs one. If you are into sculpting, the combination of such ordinary objects may form an aesthetically surprising sculpture.

  • On a sturdy surface, e.g. a piece of cardboard or plywood, create a two-color paper collage with a simple pattern of small geometrical shapes, leaving large negative (uncovered) spaces. Fill in these negative spaces with abstract designs made with ground spices; play with contrasting and complementing colors. You could either make this as ephemeral art — which allows you to move around the shapes and spices to make as many different art pieces as you wish to take photos of — or use high quality glue for artists and create a permanent design.

  • Collect some parts of plants and trees from a nature walk, a walk in a city park, or from your garden. Do some brainstorming on how you can use them to create a three-dimensional mixed media collage. Can you incorporate them as elements in your artwork? Can you use them as nonconventional tools, e.g. for mark-making? Can you stitch or paint on them? Perhaps you will discover an unconventional art method or process. Or maybe you can make natural pigments and dyes with them. Another idea is to create your own eco-paper to use in your collage art, by adding tiny or ground seeds, to the paper pulp and sprinkling it with powder made from dried flowers.

  • How about a fresh take on traditional weaving? Create unconventional tapestry art, or woven sculptures, from various objects washed ashore (also called "flotsam and jetsam art"). Instead of weaving strings and fabrics into your work, weave strips of discarded plastic bags, ghost nets, rubber flip-flop cuttings in various shapes and other trash you can collect from the beach after a storm. Other beach finds you can knot-tie or weave into your design are: pebbles and shells, driftwood, found metal objects.

  • Would you be most challenged by an unconventional process? Think about your daily activities and invent a process to create bolder and more unique artwork, like the choreographer and dancer Remy Charlip. He invented the "Air-mail Dances", inspired by ordinary activities such as getting out of bed, eating breakfast, washing the dishes, taking a shower, etc. Can you invent a painting process from cooking? How about inventing a carving process from brushing your teeth? Or a printing process from typing your email messages?

Stretching our creativity with unconventional art is not only for those moments we get stuck or feel we need a creative change. Whether you are pursuing a creative career, a creative life or a creative hobby, the destination, the journey and the outcome will all be interesting, to you and to others, if you stretch your creativity by moving from the familiar and conventional to the unfamiliar and unconventional.