I have been asked several times before: what are the things that inspire me during my painting process? If I were very honest and straightforward, I would say „the works of other illustrators and designers”, but of course, no artist says anything like this in case they are accused of stealing. It is just as well, since inspiration is something slightly more complicated than that, so today I’m going to ramble a bit about this subject.
According to definition Inspiration (from the Latin inspirare, meaning “to breathe into”) refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavour. (Source)
Now that the academic approach has been cleared, we can admit that the word ‘inspiration’ is one of today’s favourite and most over-used expressions. It is the kind of cliché, which makes my mind switch off at the first mention of it. Under the pre-text of ‘inspiration’ anything can be sold: a kitchy photo, a perfectly banal quote or even a collection of images. Needless to say, I have also jumped the band-wagon, I create inspirational posters, and what’s more, I titled an entire category on this blog ‘inspiration’ – but I’ll tell you a secret: my paintings are hardly ever inspired by such things.
The way it doesn’t work
Inspiration actually means something different for all of us: something might be inspiring for me, which is not inspiring for you. Therefore it follows logically, that what I’m saying here may not apply to you.
However, we all have that feeling in common when we are just uninspired, so we have to accept the painful fact that inspiration is not always at reach whenever we need it. So don’t expect magic to happen if you fill a tub with foamy hot water and recite ‘I’m getting inspired now’ (even though it sometimes helps).
’I wish I were as creative as you’. I often hear this remark from friends but the truth is that only a part of our creativity comes from our genes, another large part can be learned. In fact, it all depends on whether you stimulate your fantasy. Naturally, working in an office 9-5, then dropping in front of Facebook won’t trigger your imagination much, but you can take the first few steps towards a more creative life now.
Write down & organise
Believe it or not, even you have great ideas! But if you don’t write them down somewhere then it’s as if they didn’t exist because you won’t remember them in a few hours’ time, let alone months later. Is it just some nonsense of an idea? Write it down anyway! In my experience it is worth keeping a record of all your ideas even if you do not execute them right away because months later you might get a wave of creativity and you can make something even of the worst ideas. Revise your ideas list weekly/monthly/annually (as it suits you), then put them in order so that the best ones appear on top.
The moment you find yourself guessing typefaces on posters and ads, you should consider the possibility that you have a fetish for typography. I certainly know I “suffer” from this condition, my pulse quickens at the sight of beautiful letters and font pairings, so I have long wanted to write a blog posts about this topic. At least I wanted to, until I realised that others have done it before me, much better than I ever will. So instead of sharing my own considerable wisdom (haha!) I have collected some of my favourite blog posts about typography.
Copying is kind of a taboo topic among Artists. In posh circles it is common to say that those who copy actually steal, cheat, and use the wrong way to develop their skills. It is therefore lucky, that I don’t call myself an Artist with a capital ‘A’, nor do I belong to posh circles, so I can share my views without fear of losing my “status”.
I have tried writing a “2016 summary” post for several days now, until I realised it is just not going to work. However, going through my personal notes I have found several post-its with some advice for myself. I liked some of them so much that I’ve decided to share it with you guys. 2016 has been an illuminating year for me in both painting and blogging, but I think that these lessons might be useful for people working in other creative fields. So here are 16 lessons that 2016 taught me.
“I don’t feel like it” is a matter of choice. Thomas Frank pointed it out in this video that chanting “I don’t feel like it” will not actually stop you doing the work, it just gives you an excuse not to do it. Only amateurs keep waiting for inspiration, professionals work for a deadline.
It’s only paper. What’s the worst that can happen? I am also one of those who easily get stuck by the sight of a blank paper, then after drawing the first line, things start to work like charm. But in truth this fear is all rubbish. If you screw it up, you only ruin a piece of paper, nothing else.
An art school is not there to ruin your confidence. Yes, bad teachers actually exist, but it doesn’t mean it’s pointless to take advice from a professional.
Stealing ideas is not a crime. We know it since Austin Kleon that all ideas are actually copied. However, if you do it for the sake of learning and don’t present it as your own piece it is not only acceptable but can help you learn a great deal.
Even the most hardworking chaps need a little motivation from time to time, but sometimes even those make “new year vows” in September who don’t always produce top marks in all subjects (that’s the way, keep to your promises!)
However, it is not only those who start school who might need motivation, so I have put together a set of 6 inspirational posters to download (PDF, JPG), so you can start afresh this “new year”. For the backgrounds I used my own paintings from the repeat pattern challenge. You can print the posters in A4 or use them as book covers or stickers.
I hope you are full of energy and enthusiasm, and start this period with great elan. After all, “September is the new January” :)