TODAY: Be Inspired, Not Intimidated.


I’ve been kind of at odds with my work lately, and I’ve been drowning myself in busy work to keep from having to address the elephant in the room- What do I do next? I’ve spent the weeks since the store closed doing anything but the things I need to further my art, and the longer I waited the harder it became to pick up a pencil again. Somehow in that time I became more and more discouraged by the truly awesome work I saw all around me, and I’ve decided it’s time to do something about it.

The internet is an amazing thing for an artist. Snap your fingers (or ask Google) and you have access to a million inspirations and a trillion resources. (Also a gazillion distractions, but that’s beside the point.) We don’t even have to go to a library or a museum to be exposed to new work or new concepts; it’s just there, in our Facebook feed.

With such luxury, it seems like our possibilities for inspiration are endless, and yet all these amazing things can be just as intimidating as they are stimulating. How can you ever draw that well? Why can’t you come up with the perfect idea? Why should you spend hours on something that they can do without even a sketch?

Thus begins the cycle of stagnation: 1: Get discouraged, 2: Can’t work, 3: Don’t get better at what you do (and don’t get to enjoy the process), 4: Spend more time on the internet looking at “inspiration”…. Rinse and repeat.

So, lets turn this whole thing on its head, and figure out how to see inspiration as just that.

1: Acknowledge talent, and move on.

Even is your first defensive instinct is (like mine) to pick apart the work of other artists, try to instead see what is causing you to react. It’s likely envy, and that’s just silly. There isn’t a finite amount of talent to go around.
If someone is awesome, let them be awesome. Admire what they do, and that they do it well. Move on.

2: Realize that what you like in your work does not have to be what you love in someone else’s.

I love looking at realistic art. I love looking at landscapes that seem to miraculously appear from patches of paint. I like mosaics built from found trash that take on a whole new life in their new format. I have no intention of doing any of those things. I am never happy trying to be realistic. I like lines, not plains; and when it comes down to it, I really just want to make functional art.
You’re no less an artist because you do something differently- obviously art is all about being different. You can be an artist in the kitchen, an organizing savant, an expert at standing on one foot while you knit– and all the while you can love the things you don’t do. Maybe you can love them more because you DON’T do them.

3: Spend a little time looking at things outside of your comfort zone.

I have a long list of blogs in my feed reader and I almost always read the web comics and interior design blogs first. Now, as a dedicated blog contributor I should probably be looking at things that are a little closer to home- but I get inspired by things that are outside of my experience.
You can find inspiration anywhere. In a history book that talks about the mysterious ins and outs of the past. In a mystery novel that lets you see out the eyes of someone else. In a garden reference that talks about permaculture and the growth of magnificent living things. Even in a cute kitten video. (That one’s a little bit of a stretch, but if it feels good it can’t be all bad!)

4: Get away from it all.

If you are seeing too much, close your eyes for a while. Unplug from the constant stream of visual information and take a deep breath. It’s okay. The internet is forever, and you can always go back and see things later. When you’re ready.

5: See your work for what it really is.

I don’t know everything, but I suspect that we mainly make because we are trying to express ourselves. We are trying to show everyone else how we see the world, trying to highlight and solve a problem, trying to learn. So, if someone else is doing that differently, it’s alright.
I am who I am, and you are who you are, and I like it that way.

Comments

  1. says

    Wow, thanks for this insightful and helpful post! I agree completely – though the internet is full of SO MANY inspiring images and ideas, it often makes me feel bad about myself rather than full of creative energy (sad face). I think taking breaks from social media can sometimes be the best thing you can do for yourself. Thanks again for this great post!

  2. Maria M says

    i am so glad I came across this article. It was so helpful and inspirational at the same time….thank you for sharing.