My entire life is spent surrounded by people of the creative persuasion. My work life and personal life is mostly full of artists, authors, performers, and other kinds of makers. And often I can see trends ripple through my corner of the creative world. That’s how I know what to write about here on Muddy Colors or over at Make Your Art Work. I pretty much just wait until a topic has come up a dozen times in conversation in person or on social media and jot it down to dig into and write a post about. Right now, it seems like a lot of artists and authors in my world are going through some kind of breakdown or freeze or creative block. I believe artists tend to be more sensitive to the collective unconscious of our society to be able to create, but unfortunately, when that collective unconscious is in a dark place artists get emotional backwash. (ew)

I think the most critical thing to remember if you’re in the middle of a breakdown, a block, pain (mental or physical), or rough times is to remember that you’re not alone. I’ve been having a hard time making the transition to the new year, and I realize I was unconsciously doing something to drag me out of it. Over the last month or so I’ve been watching a ton of documentaries. On artists, on writers, on just creative interesting people. It’s been helping to see the struggles other creatives are going through — not as some kind of creative schadenfreude, but as a way to remind myself that other people have survived the same creative struggles I am struggling through right now.

So culled from the list of documentaries I’ve been racking up, here’s a few matched to the particular need I think they’re good for. Most can be found on Netflix but others you can find on iTunes or just by googling. All are good for inspiration and empathy and feeling that you’re not the only one slaying creative and life dragons, no matter how lonely it might feel:

To watch when your reality is not as awesome as everyone thinks from your social media presence and you need to show the real you: Gaga: Five Foot Two



To watch when you wish you had an art grandma or eccentric older next door neighbor to give you a cup of tea and remind you to be fabulous: Iris



To watch when you feel like you’re toiling in obscurity: Finding Vivian Maier



To watch when you need to clean out your studio before a pile of books collapses on you: Dark Star: H. R. Giger’s World



To watch when you have a ton of deadlines and need to be inspired by sheer output: Drew: Man Behind the Poster



To watch when you need to get your face out of your phone and remember to look around when you’re walking down the street: Bill Cunningham New York



When you’re struggling with insecurity but also need to laugh in the face of your critics: Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work



When you need to jumpstart your sense of play and your curiosity: Eames: The Architect and the Painter



When you just need to be blown away by gorgeous art and texture: A Solitary Mann