First and foremost, it’s a crappy question to answer. Artists and designers everywhere hope they can read one of these articles and suddenly have the secret to earth shattering design. Like any creator has a real understanding of where our ideas come from and how to generate them. Instead of focusing on how to be creative, I focus on the world around me, and see what ideas I can pilfer and assemble into an original idea. It isn’t stealing. We’ll it is, but it’s stealing like an artist.
Like Austin Kleon says in his book, when you take an idea from one person, it’s stealing. If you’re putting together ideas from a multitude of places, then that’s called research. Every project I’ve ever worked on started with research. I look to find anything even closely related to my project and see what’s working for them. I’m not talking about just other pieces similar to the one I’m making. I take walks through Worcester, looking at signs, people, plants. I’ll never know when I’ll see a color combination I should try or get inspired about a new layout option I wasn’t previously considering. I start these walks with no preconceived notions of where my creativity will take me, and that’s exciting.
If being mobile doesn’t work, or if I’m feeling too much anxiety to successfully complete the project, then it’s time to look inward. I’m talking meditation and breathing exercises. Before I go further, let me be clear. By no means am I an expert on meditating. Hell, my hunchback makes it hard to sustain the seated position for long periods of time. That’s why I typically do my meditating while lying on my bed. I call it beditation. Obviously the goal isn’t to fall asleep, which is absolutely the hardest part about doing this lying down, but to instead ease my mind to help me regain my confidence. I concentrate on my breathing, focusing my mind on each intake and exhale. If another thought that isn’t those two words comes into my mind, I imagine tying it to a balloon and letting it drift away. They all float in here. Eventually one of these concepts will be far too interesting to let go, which catapults me out of my stasis and directly to a sketch pad.
Lastly, I can always rely on being inspired by those around me. The artists, entrepreneurs, and makers I choose to keep company with. There is nothing less enjoyable to me than being around boring people. Lifesuckers who’s goals are to occupy spaces and couches for long periods of time and who prefer to only talk about the plots of movies or tv shows. They have no problem telling you the things they’re “hoping” to do or “wish” they had the time for. I wish you found less time for these people. Why? Because life is filled with all types of people. Countless creative minds with solutions to problems that have never even occurred to most of us. If your friends aren’t challenging your opinions or ideas on the world and expanding your understanding, then you’ve become part of a herd. I strongly urge you to break free. I’ve meticulously chosen my inner circle. I get to be inspired by watching a friend be passionate about her flowers, or how another’s brick and mortar store is doing, or seeing the latest addition to a growing number of hand built animatronics. Seeing other humans solving their problems inspires me to solve mine.
So to put it bluntly, I’m inspired by life and living it. I’m inspired by learning what I can from those before me, and being around people who strive to make more things. Better things. Ultimately, it means putting down the device you’re reading this on, and tapping into life. Go find your local makerspace, find the next art market, or just go take a friggin walk…Travis.
How do you stay inspired? Leave a comment or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org