I quite often ask big open-ended questions in my Instagram captions. I love seeing how different people’s brains work, how differently we all see the world, but also how many threads of similarity bind us together. Of nothing is this more true than creative inspiration.
From the conversations I have almost daily with Insta pals, to a general mood I sense in captions and tweets, inspiration seems to be running low at the moment. Maybe it’s this summer light messing with our grids, maybe we’re all preoccupied with holidays and activities, or maybe, sadder still, it’s a general disheartening. Whatever’s causing it, I wanted to help us all get out of it.
So I posed the question on Instagram: what/who/how do you get inspired? I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the responses. They span from the digital, to the analogue, the indoor to the outdoor, and a healthy mix of fence-sitting in the middle too. If you’re stuck in the creative doldrums, then the ideas below are sure to get you out of it…
Instagram and Pinterest
Unsurprisingly top of the list, looking at other people’s work on Instagram and Pinterest came up again and again in the responses. I must admit that this is where I go for inspiration, saving Instagram pictures I like the look of (or sometimes just with a really nice book I want to check out). Although I do think, based on my own experience, that this can lead to photography that is a little derivative. That’s why I loved what kerryvillers said about Pinterest: “I like to search for surreal photography. My photos aren’t in the least bit surreal, but I find this category really inspiring nonetheless.” Looking at something different to your usual aesthetic prompts you to look at things differently and take inspiration from a shaft of light or an idea, rather than a composition you want to copy.
I also find taking part in hashtag projects can be really useful for prompting creativity. There is of course Instagram’s own #WHP (Weekend Hashtag Project – check the Instagram feed every Friday night for the theme), but others in your community may have projects too, whether it’s my #a_sill_life, sarah_louise_ferg‘s #botanicalbodyhair or lapinblu’s #fridayfacelessportrait.
Props and Books
Having a new prop or product to work with can be really helpful for sparking new ideas. Whether you spend 75p on a charity shop vase, treat yourself to coffee in a pretty cafe or decide to completely redecorate, that’s up to you. But a new shape or colour to play with can be very helpful for making you think and look differently.
Many people also love to look at artworks and photography that aren’t on a screen. Illustration and interiors books came up commonly through the comments, and seeing images blown up on paper pages rather than in tiny squares is definitely useful for examining the craft and detail that goes into them. In much the same way as writers are encouraged to read more to improve their craft, the same is true for visual creatives. To maintain a stream of creativity and a visual vocabulary, you must look and learn from others.
kerryvillers “get your arse on eBay, you’ll find loads of reasonably priced lovely furniture there”
rae_of__light” l start with an idea/theme for each space, then find colors, textures, and pieces that will work toward that idea. Materials are very important to me, and the natural and artificial lighting. And there is absolutely no shame in thrifting! Some of my Goodwill finds are on my lnstagram, as well as some from Easy.”
mesmerize_garden “I took inspiration from Greenery being colour of the year, but not directly – so colour of green (mostly leafy palms inspired wallpapers) grey, white and touch of white. Find your theme, colour scheme and start with mood board on Pinterest.”
leaelmphotography “I get inspired by paintings, old photographs, other people’s writing, literature, books. Mostly I find creativity when I see a photo or a painting or read a text that connects with me through time. Something I relate to, even if it was captured, made or written a long time ago. It makes me look for stories that I wouldn’t otherwise have thought of seeking. I love Atget’s photographs when he traced the streets of Paris that meant something to him, I love the stillness and silence of Hammershoi’s paintings because I carry that silence in me too and I love Nemirovsky, Woolf and Austen, all those women that came before me to show me the way.”
beckyocole “For me inspiration comes from a great novel, nature, Vogue, old black and white movies, journaling.”
simpsonsisters “Much of my inspiration has come from the places in which I have lived; the elements within them, experiences enjoyed or endured, the smells and textures I associate with them and the objects I brought with me. Furniture that was in my childhood bedroom and is still with me today, pottery made and given to me in South Africa, buxus and hydrangeas from Belgium and a growing interest in simplicity and design from Sweden”
As much as looking and playing provided inspiration, so too did doing just the opposite – heading outside and not thinking about creativity at all. Whether it’s lonely walks in the wild, or heading into the city to see friends, leaving the desk or studio seems to really crank up the creativity. Sometimes it’s to let the mind wander off in uncurbed tangents, or for others it’s to get a complete distraction and recharge the brain. Or maybe it’s a bit of both – either way, fresh air and a moving body seems to do wonders.
sarahdshotts “My favourite source of inspiration is micro-adventures. Something that breaks up my routine and lets me explore. A morning walk, trip to the library, afternoon in a museum, or even something like trying a new recipe or creative project that’s just for fun.”
songofthestitch “Completely agree with those who said being outside is key for inspiration – taking a long walk is great for clearing my head and allowing my ideas to fall into place. Plus I am far more likely to see things that I want to photograph! I find that my head can get so saturated with ‘inspiration’ from different sources that I need to step away for a few hours!”
sarah_louise_ferg “The outdoors! The landscape. My daughter. The seasons…”
hasang89 “For me inspiration comes from nature (sunset/milkyway/flowers and so on) also a short story books (childhood books) and from a good memories with good people. I love to get inspiration from the pictures of other countries, cultures and people.”
acornandauger “Ethical clothing, nature walks (or strolls/picnics through fields woodlands) food foraging, cloud watching (finding shapes and pictures) the idea of travelling. Nothing beats the natural and wider world.”
ukyankeelife “I get inspired by taking myself out of my little home office cocoon & plunging into new places & experiences. Sometimes its hard to overcome the inertia but it is always worth it!”
damselinlondon “My inspiration comes from those days and moments when I get myself out of the house, even if just for a wander around London.”
Letting It Percolate
Of course, there will always be those who sit on the fence (!). For these girls, it is a combination of all of the above that come together for their inspiration. They need to take in one form of inspiration, and then let it simmer and percolate while doing something else before taking action.
katbluejay “I tend to look to Pinterest, my fave instagrammers and podcasts. I then, crucially, take a step back and go outside/spend time in nature/live life. The combination tends to work for me, I need that step back to let things marinate!”
vitavihandmade “I get inspiration from botanical illustrations, interior design magazines, walks in the nature but most of all from meetings with friends”
siobhanwatts “I find being in nature about the best source of inspiration there is, but I love to curl up with a book or magazine filled with beautiful recipes and interiors.”
What do you think? Your challenge is to pick a couple of these tips and use them to inspire your own creativity – don’t forget to tag me in your posts so I can see and share them 😊