5 ways I find inspiration for my work
Updated: Mar 9, 2021
It's interesting how creativity works. I find, with my mind anyway, that if I try too hard to be creative, I can't come up with anything. As a full-time graphic designer, I often don't have the freedom to 'wait until creativity strikes' so I have some tried and tested methods that help me create designs even when I'm bored as hell, feeling under the weather and would rather be in bed eating biscuits!
When it comes to my freelance work, I have the freedom to manage my own project timelines, and I really only create when I want to. When I'm feeling uninspired, I do everything else it takes to run a business, website admin, finances, customer service, the list goes on.
I usually map out entire pieces, ranges and ideas way before I sit down to create them. I don't have a lot of time to sit down and brainstorm quietly. This means I do a lot of planning ahead of time, and by the time I sit down I've got an hour before the baby wakes from his nap so I am super efficient. At a single time I usually have 5 unmade illustrations in my mind that aren't quite ready to be created yet. Also, I often do work just before I go to bed, which means that it often crosses over into my dreams too.
I create what I like As a graphic designer, my job is to create visuals for someone else (whether that's a person, company or cause). In my own business, I only create art that I want to hang on my own walls. I only publish work that I feel proud of, and that I am 100% happy with. So I take inspiration from things I like, books, creative podcasts, social media, TED talks, stories from my own life and family.
Memories With a raging pandemic going on outside, much of my latest work has been inspired by memories, and linked to nostalgia. Whether it's the streets of Hong Kong, or the oceans of Thailand, I create visual memories, to surround myself with things that are important to me. As a mother, I have had to put a lot of my personal goals (and travel destinations) on hold and by creating art, I get to revisit some amazing places I have been in my life.
Movement I find a lot of my inspiration comes when I am doing something else, especially when I am moving. Going on a walk and allowing things to happen often gives me inspiration for my work. Especially for my more abstract work, I am often inspired by marks in the mud, and natural forms. I also find a good walk clears my mind. It's free and its exercise, it's a win-win really.
Other Artists Although I do not advocate copying in any way, I find listening, watching or speaking to other artists very inspiring. I love to know about the process, of how other artists create their work and think about how I would do it differently. Looking for artists in other fields is particularly inspiring. Although that's not always productive if you end up buying your own air dry clay or an embroidery kit (I own both of these). Taking inspiration from other creative fields helps you to 1. not copy, and 2, find unique inspiration for your own interpretation.
New Experiences I am a creature of habit, so intentionally creating new experiences is a way that I can curate and provoke inspiration to strike. This can be travelling to a new place, or taking a different walking route. I often miss small details because I'm so caught up in my thoughts so doing something that turns off my busy 'autopilot' mode that I spend most of my day, really allows me to be present and find new ideas.
One place I will not go for inspiration is Pinterest. I use Pinterest for many things but I won't go there for inspiration. I think its because you have to search, and I end up seeing art that is way too close to what I do. I then just see more of things that I'm already familiar with. It's too curated for me, and for inspiration to strike with me, I need surprise and randomness. I need serendipity!
I think the main thing for me is that I am well trained in finding inspiration. I do it all day, everyday. I'm sure this is different to so many of you out there so I'd love to hear where you get your ideas and inspiration from!