03 Jul Seeking Inspiration
This is part 1 of a two-part post on inspiration. In this post, we will talk about the magic of inspiration, how I approach it, and how you can seek your own inspiration. This post also comes with an activity sheet to kickstart your creativity. In part 2, we will talk about how you can work with your own inspiration to stay true to yourself and showcase your unique creative voice. Plus, we will look at a few examples of how my inspiration transformed into a block print. Ready? Let’s get started.
Inspiration is one of the main ingredients to our creativity. It acts as the fuel that ignites our imagination and helps creatives turn plain canvases into masterpieces or a blank page into a riveting story. Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a designer, or simply someone seeking to infuse their daily life with more creativity, inspiration plays a pivotal role in this pursuit.
Finding inspiration is a crucial part of creating original work, and I see many of my block printing students ask about how to best find or rather seek inspiration, and how to source their own inspiration without copying other artist’s work. So let me take you on a journey of inspiration in this 2-blog-post-series, where we’re diving headfirst into the power of inspiration and how it can transform your creative endeavors.
Table of Contents
THE MAGIC OF INSPIRATION
Inspiration is a powerful force that moves us, evoking deep emotions and opening windows to endless possibilities. It unlocks our creativity, flooding our minds with fresh perspectives and ideas. It encourages us to step outside our comfort zones, explore new to us territories, and find beauty in the ordinary. Think of inspiration as a superpower that propels us forward and fuels our creativity, inviting us into a world of infinite ideas.
What’s truly magical about inspiration is that it knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care about time, location, or medium. It’s everywhere and anywhere you look. It could be hiding in a Renaissance masterpiece, hiding in the lyrics of your favorite song, or even lurking within the patterns of nature or in other unexpected places. And that’s not different for me.
MY APPROACH TO INSPIRATION
For me, inspiration is truly everywhere. It often waits for me in the most unexpected places:
I can find it in nature, no matter if it is color combinations that evoke emotions, patterns on plants that will spark an idea or shadows on the ground.
But it also can be man-made objects or creations – I have literally been inspired by details on billboards (which I find amusing – the billboard is supposed to persuade us to buy or do something but in the end I walk away from it with new inspiration “in my pocket”, no matter if it is a color combination I liked, the story or subject matter that triggered an idea or though etc.)
New experiences do the trick for me as well – such as exploring a place in my everyday surroundings I haven’t been to in a while, a day- or weekend trip nearby, or a monthlong travel. The trick is always to look at things with fresh eyes.
While most of the above is about being outside of my studio space – the space I typically create in – I am also very attentive to any ideas that might cross my mind while sketching, carving and printing my designs. The question of “what if” is my best friend (“What if I print the design that way?”, “What if I change these details?”, “What if I combine these two blocks?”).
It boils down to living (everyday) life with open eyes, to be receptive to inspiration. Inspiration is literally everywhere for me, but I need to be open to it; my mind needs to be open to it. It’s a conscious process of seeking inspiration. While this is not a guarantee of never running out of ideas again, over time have learned to know my way of creating well enough that I know how I can find my inspiration. And you can do this too. So let’s have a look at where you can seek inspiration.
As an artist, finding inspiration is crucial to creating original work. Inspiration can come from many different places and take many different forms. Every creative has their unique way of seeking inspiration and finding their creative vision, so be open to finding your own. Here are some ways to seek inspiration for your art or design work:
1. Get up and move:
- Explore your apartment
- Walk around your neighborhood
- Take a walk in nature
Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery to get inspired. Take a walk outside and observe the world around you – notice the patterns in the leaves, the colors of the sky, the ripples in a pond, and the lines in a tree. Pay attention to the architecture and design of buildings and streets, noticing the lines, shapes, and textures.
Use these observations as a starting point for your designs. Be sure to document your inspiration – which can be as simple as:
- taking photos of what inspires you on your walk,
- making quick sketches, or
- writing down your observations and feelings in a journal once you return from your walk.
2. Keep a sketchbook or inspiration journal
Whenever you have an idea or see something that sparks an idea, jot it down in a sketchbook or inspiration journal. This can be a great way to keep track of your ideas and revisit them later when you’re looking for inspiration.
When my ideas are more concrete than inspirational photos to revisit at a later point, I take notes on my phone on ideas that I have (I use a simple notes app for that). I also keep several sketch books (including a small one to bring with me when on the move) to sketch out ideas – these contain sketches from super rough (and small) to super detailed, and the final (stamp or pattern) design in its final size will look like (and any stage in between).
3. Give yourself an assignment
Narrowing down what you want to focus on will work wonders – aka give yourself an assignment – this will work whether you are getting inspired or sketching ideas.
When in the ideas phase (“get up and move”), challenge yourself to look for something specific, which could be as simple as
- looking at shadows,
- searching for anything in a certain color (e.g. any objects you see in red),
- take note of all the (perhaps unusual) color combinations you can see
- try to see faces in everything you look at
- look for elements that could make a great pattern or would be a great subject matter for your creative venture (no matter if this is story telling, painting, block printing or surface pattern design)
When sketching, you can give yourself constraints such as only flowers, only geometrical designs, or pattern designs that will work in a certain tessellating shape (for example a hexagon), etc.
By giving yourself these constraints, you will be surprised how well you will be able to focus your ideas and mind in this process.
4. Try new things
Sometimes, trying something new can be the key to finding inspiration. Experiment with different materials, techniques, and styles to expand your creative horizons.
Try out new techniques, such as using a different type of pen/ink/process for your sketches, take a workshop to learn about a new art form and see how you can incorporate this into your process (or if you want to incorporate it into your process at all – often using your hands and brain differently for another creative venture can give you a surge in inspiration). Explore new styles, such as modern or abstract designs. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and see where your creativity takes you.
5. Tell a story
Brainstorm what type of story you want to tell with your work. Is there a certain theme you are drawn to, or do you want to raise awareness about a certain topic with your work? This will also help you narrow down the type of work you will want to create. Which, in turn, will also focus on where and how you seek inspiration on how to approach your story.
All these approaches will help you seek inspiration and create your own original work and be true to your voice (or find your voice as an artist or designer) – which is part of part 2 of this blog post. Most importantly, have fun along this process.
What about you? How do you get inspired? Why don’t you tell us your favorite way to seek inspiration in the comments below.
WANT MORE IDEAS OF HOW TO KICK START YOUR INSPIRATION? ... here is your list to 10+ ways to kickstart your inspiration
This free mini guide contains 12 inspiration-seeking-ideas with proven activities to help you seek your inspiration and – ultimately – kickstart your creativity.
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