Sparking inspiration and ideas from unlikely sources
Sometimes finding inspiration is really hard. Even though I have quite a diverse portfolio, I regularly hit the dreaded “writer’s block”. And while it’s not always words I struggle to find, hitting upon that initial creative spark is something any creative is constantly chasing. You can’t predict when or where creativity will strike. There’s no way of knowing where the next idea will spring from. But when I’m struggling with finding inspiration, there are a few things that can can help break the creative slump.
Other People’s Projects
One of the first things I do when in a creative rut is to explore the things that other people are making. Sometimes it brings an “I could do that better thought”. Sometimes it’s a whole new way of telling a story. Twitter and Instagram are a great way to create a feed of people to be inspired by. But when it comes to industry leaders, and those creating the best of the best and pushing creative boundaries, there are a handful of really amazing websites that collate these.
For new inspiration, or to see what is possible with the tools available, sites like Behance, Dribbble, Awwwards and Creative Market are the way to go. They let you sort by platform, medium and content type, as well as having the option to keyword search for more specific themes and styles. It’s a great way to get a taste of what others are making, and to see the community response.
One of my favourite pastimes is reading through illustration books. There’s nothing better for creativity than to explore a new way of creating things. Different styles suit different stories, and have different limitations and expressions.
One of my favourite sources for a new style is the “Illustration Now” series. It’s a collection for works from a huge variety of artists, and offers a huge variety to draw inspiration from. There’s also enough information to explore an artists style more. Some have amazing websites and curated social media, and others have a vast body of corporate works to refer to.
There’s nothing better than a cuppa and a chat with a friend for getting out of your own head. Sometimes, just stepping away from the pressure of the creative block is enough to break through it. And the best stories are often inspired by those we know and love.
Many of my projects have been created from a little throw away conversation that very possibly impacted no one but me. They’re the people that affect my life, so of course they’re going to impact my art. The ideas might come from something they’ve said, something that’s happening to them, or even something that i want to change for them.
Every now and again, inspiration comes from needing to work through an emotional tie. Sometimes they’re happy, and it’s nice to be creative from a memory that brings joy, but occasionally friendships can get rocky, and this may also provide a place for creativity or artistry as those feelings are processed.
Personally, my side projects often lay unfinished and incomplete. I regularly abandon things during the planning stage. And this can be a real creativity killer. But more recently, I’ve been choosing smaller side projects that I’m more passionate about, and suddenly the creative drive is back.
Picking the right project to work on can really help the creative flow. Sure, I have a list of dreams I’d one day love to have the time and resources to work on, but at the present moment they’re just going to leave me overwhelmed and end up abandoned. It’s far more satisfying to finish something beautifully, than to stress and agonise over something that I’ll ultimately give up on in favour of something equally difficult.
Austin Kleon wrote an amazing little book titled “Steal Like an Artist“. It talks about the different ways and places we could be finding inspiration, and how to use these inspirations in our own, new works. There’s nothing wrong with finding an idea from something that already exists, it’s how we use and change it to make something totally new. There are so many places to find an idea, you just have to be open to finding inspiration.