We are saturated with images and ideas every day. Did you know that in 2018, on average 95 million photos were shared daily on Instagram? 95 million. Per day. Let’s let that sink in for a little bit! That is a massive amount of content.
It’s easy as an artist and a creative to get sucked in to what other people are doing. We can spend hours surfing social media, looking at other people’s work and what their doing – while spending less and less time creating work of our own! And when we do create work, it’s easy to get into a rut of doing the same thing over and over.
To break out of a creative rut and create new work, it’s important to gain inspiration and do your research. I’ve found that I find much more inspiration looking to sources other than social media. Don’t get me wrong, I love Instagram and Pinterest as much as the next person. Their great tools to connect with others and follow their work! However, we often see different variations of the same image over and over and over again online. It can get a bit boring, bland, and uninspiring. If you want to create something unique and personal, it helps to look other places. That’s why today I’m sharing tips on how to find inspiration as an artist!
How to Find Inspiration As an Artist
Study Art History
I am a huge art history nerd! Ever since I was little, I loved looking at the works of artists. My favorites were Carl Larsson, Monet, Rembrandt, and more. The amazing thing about artists from history is that their ideas, studies, and techniques are still relevant and beautiful today. If you are feeling uninspired, go to a museum! Or if you don’t have one nearby, go to your nearest library and pick up an art history book. Open it, and thumb through the pages of the art pieces inside. Study the paintings and the sculptures and the drawings, and why the artists created what they did. You’ll probably find pieces you love. When you do, think about why you love them, why they are impactful to you. Then think about how those ideas can pertain to your own work. You will end up feeling inspired and ready to create!
Most of us don’t set aside time to think every day! I am terrible at this, but my husband is amazing at it. He can sit for 30 minutes just looking into space, with no distractions but the thoughts in his head. In fact, he’s doing this right now as I write 🙂 I usually can only last a few minutes, haha, but this is something I’m working on! Sitting and giving yourself time to think is a healthy exercise. Thinking about your life, what you’re worried about, what you want, what you’re looking for – these thoughts can be scary and difficult to work through, but they can also be a source of inspiration. Doing this can also help you get to the root of the creative block you have, allowing you to work through it and move forward.
What Do You Care About?
This has been a huge source of inspiration to me! Some topics I care about are sexual assault & abuse, mental health awareness, and type 1 diabetes awareness. Thinking about the causes you care most about can be a springboard to creativity. For example, think about:
What is your story in this cause? What personal experiences have you had?
One of the first photojournalist photographers, Jacob Riis, was a police reporter in New York City in the late 1800s, when conditions in the slums were terrible. He found that when people read about the conditions, they weren’t as impacted by what was going on. However, when he started taking and sharing photographs, awareness grew rapidly and enacted social change.
Art can be a powerful way to help causes that you care about. If you are an artist or a small business, think of a creative way you can support a cause you care about.
Spend Time in the Physical World
Find inspiration in the physical world. Look at books, magazines, galleries, museums. Observe the people around you. Observe nature, the weather, the light, the stars. Observing the world around you is a personal experience that is truly unique to you. This can be an amazing way to find creativity and inspiration that is personal and unique to you.
The Difference Between Being Inspired & Copying
There is a difference between being inspired by someone, and copying directly from them. You will probably get away with copying someone’s work, but doing this isn’t helping you develop your own style. It’s not helping you develop your voice as a creative person. Be honest, be aware. People will notice eventually. It’s always, always, always better to use your favorite artists as sources of inspiration, and not copy them directly.
The best way to avoid copying is to use multiple sources of inspiration. Instead of just looking at one artist, look at a few. Look at different genres of art – not just the one you are creating. Research what you are doing, and experiment. Try new techniques or work with new subjects. Really try to make your work your own – inspired by many influences, but with your personal heart in it. If you are heavily inspired by an artist then acknowledge and share how they influenced your work. Talk about how you were inspired by them, and how that helped you in your work. Be respectful and appreciative.
I hope these tips help you find inspiration in your art and your business! What are your main sources of inspiration?