Where do you find inspiration for your art?
This is the question I am asked the most, be it by fellow artists, non-creative friends or even clients. And I have to say it is not that easy to answer.
Today, I have decided to reflect on it in order to give you my insights on the matter… and, who knows, perhaps a few tips as well!
Looking for inspiration
Let’s say today is a nice morning, you sit down at your desk and try to find inspiration. But, of course, nothing comes. Blank page. This happens quite often. Similarly, if you tell your brain not to think about a bear (or anything else) for the next hours, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. That’s the way human beings work. But, luckily, there are ways around that!
The key element to understand, in my opinion, is that inspiration is everywhere. Literally. It takes a bit of time getting used to being open to inspiration at all times, but believe me, it works. And you will sometimes come up with a brilliant idea while queuing at the post office, doing your shopping or exercising at the gym.
In order to find inspiration, it is a good idea to determine what you are passionate about. You can try and find inspiration for a llama piece, because llamas are trending, but if you don’t really like animals, or travelling, or Peru, or funny animal puns… well, it might be difficult. On the other hand, if you are passionate, say, by flying (it is a random example, of course, nothing to do with me ^^), your mind will naturally be more open to flying-related inspiration: birds, insects, balloons, feathers, aeroplanes, dandelions in the breeze and much more.
So take a moment to reflect on what you like and what you are passionate about. It does not have to be extra precise. In my case, for example, it is nature. I am ALWAYS inspired by nature. So if I feel stuck, I just go on a walk, or watch a wildlife film, and I will come up with something.
Sometimes, you get inspired straightaway; other times, you need to let your brain wander a little more to find real inspiration. Finding inspiration is not like finding an object. As it is intangible, you cannot say ‘Right, I’ve found it’, like you could say when you finally get your hands on your phone that has been missing for the last hour. This might be a disadvantage, but it can also be a very big advantage. Because inspiration does not need to come from something tangible.
Of course, inspiration can come from an object, a landscape or something you see, but remember that you have many other senses at your disposal. Sounds and smells are not tangible, but they can inspire you. So can touch or taste. Impressions or memories. Feelings and atmospheres. Do you now understand how wide inspiration is?
The first times you are looking for inspiration, you will probably come up with some very simple, real objects. This is totally normal, especially if you are not used to this kind of exercise. However, as time goes by and you get better and better, inspiration will come to you in more unconscious ways and in different forms. By just knowing it can come unexpected, you will be able to notice it when it happens.
Exercise - read all of it before you get started
That’s it for now! Repeat this exercise regularly and you will see that inspiration comes more and more easily. Sometimes what you create doesn’t bring you anywhere, but other times it turns out into something big!
So what were you 3 words? And what did you create? If you share it on social media, please use the hashtag #creatingwithlara so I see!
Once you have found inspiration, be it in a dedicated ‘inspiration session’ or during one of your every-day life activities, it is important to save it for later. Especially if you are in a busy place where you won’t have time to use this inspiration straightaway. I like carrying a notebook with me to write down the ideas I get (old school, I know), but everyone usually has a phone to take a photo or write something down, a spare piece of paper or a receipt you can use.
Even when you set time aside for finding inspiration, I like recording my thoughts and ideas somehow, because once I lose momentum, everything might not be as clear as it was. As an example, I recently went for a lovely walk in an autumn foggy landscape to find some watercolour inspiration. I was really living the moment, but I still took a few minutes to take some photos and make a few notes about the atmosphere, the smells and my feelings. Once I was back in the studio, I was glad I did because although I could remember most of my experience, I would have missed some of the most important impressions.
Another advantage of saving inspiration for later is that you can refer to your lists later. We all know what it is like: we have lots of brilliant ideas but no time to realise them all. So why not store them to look at when we are not in the mood for finding new ideas?
Art block remedies
Even with a solid inspiration routine, it might happen that inspiration just doesn’t come. Blank page. Again. This happens to every creative (more often than we believe) but, luckily, it rarely lasts. Here are a few of the thinks I do if I am lacking inspiration and feel a bit of an art block:
Redraw one of my favourite pieces
Look at my inspiration list - sometimes just reading it unblocks me
Taking a class or following a tutorial - I personally use Skillshare because it has a huge variety of classes on every subject you can think of. By following a class, you can just follow without making the big decisions like the composition, the colours, etc. In my case, I usually start and then go my own way some time later as my inspiration unlocks.
Taking part in some illustration / doodle challenges. I usually save them on Instagram and go back to some of the prompts I haven’t completed when I lack inspiration.
Switch to different media: creativity can take many forms and changing from digital to traditional, or from watercolour to pencil… etc. can give you a different perspective and unblock you!
Making something abstract… Colour blobs, random lines, etc. Don’t worry about making anything nice, just go for it. Once you get the bad art out of you, you can reach for the good. And maybe the bad art isn’t quite bad after all.
I sometimes use the exercise above when inspiration doesn’t come naturally. You can see an example of a good inspiration session I had a few weeks back - I went for a walk in the wood. It was fall, but I was inspired by the atmosphere more than anything else. So I created this watercolour painting thinking about it. Which then gave me ideas to create a whole series of forests with different atmospheres (spoiler alert - stay tuned to learn more about it)
Lets’s get creative!
And that’s all for me. If you enjoyed it and the theme speaks to you, please share it and talk about it! And please leave me a comment with your reply to the following questions (or anything else you’d like to say or ask)! I’ll share the best replies on social media so everyone can benefit!
What are your art block remedies? How do you get inspired? Do you have a special routine for it?
I only recommend that I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This article may contain affiliate links which, at no additional cost to you, may earn me a small commission.