The other night as I was trying to sleep my brain would not shut down. I was thinking about how I’m going to build a successful career as an artist and what really inspires me. My brain was drawn to the process of inspiration and what influences how my ideas are formed. I really just wanted to sleep, but I also thought exploring theses thoughts deserved at least a little bit of time even though an early morning wake up call courtesy of my sweet daughter was inevitable.
With all of the content out there, where you find inspiration becomes especially important. It is easy to mindlessly scroll and absorb so many images that it becomes difficult to discern your own genuine idea from one that mirrors another person’s hard work. After daily scrolling and viewing thousands of images each week I think the line can easily blur between the two. I definitely don’t want to be an artist that copies or mirrors another artist closely because we are all working so hard to stand out and make names for ourselves.
So I’ve decided to clean up my inspiration house and focus on “clean” sources of inspiration for my work. When I say “clean” I mean that they don’t involve looking at the what other artists are creating or doing. Comparing can instantly suck the life out of dreams and the creative process. It’s just uninspiring and it creates doubt. It’s hard to avoid, but it’s the quickest way to kill any momentum you might have in your creative journey. I recently read an interview by Jen Hewett who is doing an amazing series on her blog called 52 Weeks of Printmakers which I have found very inspiring. The last interview she posted was with Lizzy House and I loved the advice that she had to give. It was encouraging to hear about her journey that got her where she is today. I hope it encourages and inspires you as well.
“You have to work. I think it’s easy to get wrapped up in the online world and having a following. BUT, if you put your head down, and go to work, and if you’re being honest with yourself about the work that you’re doing then it’s going to find its way. Also do your own work. Don’t do someone else’s work because it seems to be working for them or bringing them success. You need to find out what is going to work for you.”
My Top 5 Sources of “Clean” Inspiration
#1 Nature Exploration. Take a walk and see what is out there! I walk daily around the neighborhood with my daughter, so I have made it a point to use it as an opportunity to create my own photo references! This is great since I can customize the angle of the shot for my floral illustrations
#2 Image Search! The Internet is a beautiful thing and image searches are both amazing and overwhelming since scrolling can suck away so much time when you’re trying to find just the right reference. I like to set a max time limit for searching, but I’m often horrible at sticking to it! I need to get a timer! I love arkive.org for researching all things nature!
# 3 Books! A quick trip to the library can provide untold amounts of free inspiration on any given subject.
#4 Take a Field Trip! Go to local place that inspires you or goes along with the subject matter you are researching. For me a trip to the zoo, botanical gardens or a museum with beautiful grounds can do a lot to get the ideas flowing.
#5 Get around other creatives and create! There is nothing like getting around other creative individuals for a brainstorming/collaboration session to give you new avenues worth exploring.
Do you have any “clean” sources you use to inspire your creative endeavors? Please share them!