The Freedom to Get Inspired From Art History

Hi, it’s Moriah here and this is sadly my last tutorial for you all as a member of the Get Messy creative team. It’s been such a joy to serve on the team this year and I hope you have learned as much from us as I have learned from being part of Get Messy.

For this season I wanted to show you how you can get inspired by art history and art movements to learn new styles and techniques. I used the Lettrism movement as an example but you can apply these tips to any historical art style or artist.

The first step is to choose an art movement or artist you want to study. Read as much as you can about them, or at least enough to get an idea of their style. When did it start? Who started it? What is the goal of the movement? What is the movement’s defined style? If you’re able to, go to a museum and see the artwork in person. What do you like about the style? What colors stand out to you? What techniques are used?

For this tutorial, I am using Lettrism.

Lettrism was created by Isidor Isou in Paris in 1946 and uses words and pictures to recreate poetry. It has similarities to Egyptian hieroglyphics and borrows ancient Sumerian writing. The words and letters don’t matter. It’s not about creating something that is read, but the art itself IS the poetry.

As a poetry writer myself, I fell in love with the Letterists style when I saw an exhibit at the Popurs in Paris a few years ago. I have been slowly reading about them, thinking about the movement and its art.

The next step is to use all the information gathered and experiment with creating your own art in honor of your chosen art movement or artist. It’s not about copying the art. It’s about using it as inspiration.

Draw symbols or write down color schemes. What techniques are used? If you want to study the surrealist painters, try creating a painting in your art journal. If it’s a collage artist, use collage with similar imagery.

Most of all, have fun! The best way to develop your own style is to study artists you admire. Adopt their techniques and figure out what works for you. You’ll paint like the masters in no time!

Action Steps:

  • Study an art movement.
  • Identify what aspects of the art movement you can use in your own art.
  • Create an art journal spread based on that artist or art movement.



Moriah is an American transplant living in Madrid, Spain. Her favourite part of art journaling is being able to experiment with different techniques and styles and not having to care about making mistakes or if it doesn’t look good.


  1. Tracey James

    Interesting movement, look forward to seeing more artwork

  2. Charlotte Erichsen

    Lettrism looks like a fun and interesting art movement, reminds me of Dada. I like the examples of his poetry that the homepage of Maurice Memaître plays sounds so much like the “Ursonate” of Kurt Schwitters, a nonsense piece of spoken music.

  3. Christina Cloud

    What a cool idea! I do have a couple of art movements, and also artists, that I am drawn to! I will study one of these and try this great idea! Thank you Moriah!

  4. TC Larson

    Moriah this is such a great idea! And I was so amazed by the happy accident / serendipity of the movement using the Samarian language and the symbol you have tattooed— that made my heart flutter. Thanks for sharing such an inspiring way of exploring art movements and making them our own.