Inspiration can be a godsend. It is the spark that keeps us going, and the spark that keeps us creating. Often throughout our journey as artists and creators we lose sight, become stagnate, or even worse, bitter and resentful. It is important that we remember what initially drew us to a medium, and what called to us to create.
Creative people are generally curious of the outside word, and often gain inspiration from items outside of their normal daily interactions. That being said, try this exercise when you are at a low point and need inspiration:
Create a folder on the desktop of your computer (or print out images and make them into a book) of items that inspire you. The items don’t have to strictly be your medium of choice, and can fall outside of typical artwork. They can be not only photographs, sculptures, paintings, but also colors, words, poems, patterns, videos, people, quotes, etc. The key is to venture outside of our medium. Refer to your collection when needed to re-spark or reinstate inspiration and continue creating.
Still frames from films that inspire me (The Tree of Life, The Fountain, Blue Velvet, The Holy Mountain, Mario Bava):
As a filmmaker, photographer, poet, and performance artist, I often dabble between mediums, but generally have stuck to one style in each. For example, with photography I have stuck to straight photography (using only photographic images). Recently revisiting poetry as a performance art, I’ve found with several of my pieces (and one particular series of Dada inspired poems) a way to incorporate them into performances. I’ve also been inspired to do a first with my photography, merge written words from my poetry into photographs.
Photographs and photographers that inspire me (Pictorialism, Surrealism, Paul Strand, Alexander Rodchenko, Anne Brigman, Elliott Erwitt, Clarence White):
Quotes about inspiration from individuals who have initially inspired me to create, and keep creating:
Kurt Vonnegut – 2006, a group of high school students asked celebrated author Kurt Vonnegut to visit their school. He sent them the absolute perfect response (excerpt):
“What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow. Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.” Read the rest of Vonnegut’s letter
David Lynch – “We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.”
“This idea comes to you, you can see it, but to accomplish it you need what I call a “setup.” For example, you may need a working shop or a working painting studio. You may need a working music studio. Or a computer room where you can write something. It’s crucial to have a setup, so that, at any given moment, when you get an idea, you have the place and the tools to make it happen. If you don’t have a setup, there are many times when you get the inspiration, the idea, but you have no tools, no place to put it together. And the idea just sits there and festers. Overtime, it will go away. You didn’t fulfill it–and that’s just a heartache.”
Werner Herzog – “Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.”
“What most impressed us was Werner’s passionate mission to cultivate a sense of urgency in lighting a fire under our asses to make films that have big stories and convey a sense of poetry, wonder and awe. He wanted us to write, film and edit as if we were on death row and they were coming to strap us to the gurney. There is no time to waste on fear or self-doubt. You’re about to die. It takes a ridiculous amount of courage and inner fortitude to follow your instincts. It’s not for the faint of heart. Be up to the task.”- Marie Francoise Theodore