**Last fall, I got the devastating news from my web host that there was a server crash and I had lost 6 months worth of blog posts. Thanks to the magic that is search engine caches, I was able to recover the most important posts. So I am slowly reposting them over the next few month. Here is a favorite…***

inspiration

 

I have been thinking about inspiration a lot lately. It all started with reading yet another post about another artist being inspired by nature. {{{Groan}}}} I know that there are a lot of artist whose work are truly inspired by the great outdoors . God’s country.  Mother Nature. But, I also know that this is the acceptable, go to answer for so many creatives. One artist had even gone as far to ask, “But how then do you explain the intricacies of inspiration when someone asks?”  as though the complexities justifies giving a dumbed down answer. So, dear reader, rather than dumb it down for you, I am going to explain the intricacies of my inspiration in left brain terms.

The back story: I spent 20 years as an art director in the meat grinder that is the advertising industry. I had to come up with cutting edge, original, but not too out there, ingenious visuals for projects on the fly under deadline and at a moments notice. In other words, no time to go outside and look at daisies. But, really, would looking at daisies really help me generate that brilliant visual that will please the client/boss/customer and sell that commercial real estate/telecommunications testing facility/breakfast sausage? Design is insanely competitive. If I am copying another designers ideas as a work around rather than using my creative know how, then am I actually signing up to never rise to the top of the industry?

For 8 years I freelanced with all the major ad agencies (except the one that was notorious for not paying the freelancers) and in house departments in Birmingham. My schedule was quite full. Most of what I was called to do was join the creative team in the 11th hour of a big presentation, to add some extra energy to the team. We would pull 3 solid days of late nights, meet the deadline…. and here is the important part…I would go home, take 3 days off and do what I needed to do to revitalize myself. I had several job offers from my clients and I would systematically turn them down. I knew what made me a good designer was being able to do what I needed to perform for them, and that unfortunately did not jive with a typical work week.

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Source: google.com via Jordann on Pinterest

 

What kept me inspired and full of energy was to stop trying to be inspired. Yep, stop slamming my head against the wall. Fill my life with beauty, get clear on what I love in every day life, and surround myself with more of that. For those years freelancing, I spent much of that time, just living my life. Hanging out with friends, having parties and making insanely lavish invitations for them. Spend a lot of time volunteering at the botanical gardens not to be inspired by nature, but to be around the gardens that I loved and watch the tensions melt away. I went to the beach. I went to lunch. I went to art openings. I took art classes in metal, and raku, and mosaics. I made jewelry. I dyed fabric. And I learned to knit. All things that surrounded me with love, beauty and art. And I took care of myself so I was mentally able to pull from all of that everyday life and put it into my creative work.

Hear is what I know: yes inspiration is intricate. It lies within the subconscious and dances with the right brain when we sit down to play with our chosen medium. Operative word here is play. I have seen many an artist pick up an image of a beautiful colorful scene and stylistically mimic what they see. Yes this will create a piece of art engineered by your left brain. But, what if you reached into your subconscious and really let your inner artist play and communicate? Put the image away, and just start putting paint to paper? Everyday we are struck by beauty, ugly, quirky, mundane things that catches our eyes. Those images squirrel away in our subconscious, are judged in a nano second about how we feel towards these random things. The more you feed your brain with all the lovely things and experiences, the more information will be at out fingertips when we sit down to make art.

There are no set rules to feeding your head with all the creative ammunition you desire. Here are a few things that I do.

Keep an art journal. Okay, I have to admit, I do this sporadically. But I decided that I am okay with it for now. To practice communicating visually for yourself in a variety of mediums with no judgement helps make it easier to make art when it is time to get down to work. One of the most creative designers I know keeps an art journal with him at all times. Not all the pages are works of art, but it is all very personal, and he really does not share his journal. It is a personal tool. But, because he keeps this art journal, and creates pages all the time, he is very clear about what he knows is good design. It is no surprise he is a leader in his industry.

Live creatively. Surround yourself with things, images, routines that you make you smile/that you can’t keep your eyes off of/makes your heart sing. Spend a lot of time with people that make you smile.

Take care of you, rest if you need to. It is okay to not be making art ALL THE F***ING TIME. The real creative stuff actually is happening while you are not working. It is a part of you. So make sure to take care of you.

Pinterest. I love Pinterest. Currently, I have something insane, like 4000+pins. All things I LOVE!! Recipes, DIY, nail polish I would never wear. I use it as a tool to get clear about what I love and NOT to swipe “inspiration”. Okay except, maybe, when it comes to making dinner…I do swipe those ideas.

Acknowledge what you love. Put copies in your journal. Stop thinking about how you can use this in your work, just pay attention to the beauty in front of you. Write about it. Again, stop thinking of how you can use this in your work.

Acknowledge what you hate. Ditto.

Try a new medium. This is what I do when I get kind of stuck. When I do this I am outside of my right brain and feeding my left brain with knowledge of new techniques. I am not sure why, but giving my brain a new medium to work with will often unhinge the creative block. Sometime it is interesting to revisit a medium associated with child’s art. I am sure there is a Freudian reason that could be inserted here. All I know is it works well too in a very interesting way.

Create and just play. Do it until you feel your heart burst open with excitement about what you have made. And if you live creatively (see above), you will know what that feels like when you see it.

Put your art journal away when you work Trust that your heart will remember what is important.

Make mistakes You may or may not want to revisit them later. Sometimes burning them is totally appropriate too. Just follow your heart.

Mix what you hate with what you love. Sometime the contrast of what you love with what you hate creates a piece with a depth that is just unparalleled. Hard to explain, just give it a try.

Adopt what feels right, lose what does not. It is really all about finding what makes your heart sing. Now go play!! Please post your results on my FB page and if you like this post please comment below and share it with your friends.