1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: “flashes of inspiration.”
2. The quality of having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something: “a moment of inspiration in an otherwise dull display.”
People talk about inspiration, what inspired something, that they are or are not inspired to create art or a craft. It’s used so much it’s almost mundane.
I sell handcrafted eco-friendly jewelry so when I’m doing a show or if I’m in my retail space, people often ask me what inspired a particular piece. The truth is, it’s not always an easy question for makers/artists to answer.
Sometimes you cannot pinpoint exactly what did inspire a piece. Too many things come into play, really. For me, I love our planet and nature, and that is the basic inspiration for every piece I create. However, each piece is also individually inspired by something more specific. And that is what I cannot always answer.
Sometimes inspiration comes at you so obviously and clearly. For example, you love the lines of a building or the how a tree branch gracefully bends. You might even make a note or draw a sketch of it in your notebook.
Sometimes what inspires a piece is the combination of many different things all jumbled together — so intertwined that you couldn’t possibly separate out what inspired one piece specifically. All the difference experiences you have and things you observe or are delighted by.
Sometimes you’re inspired by a feeling that you cannot pinpoint. The painting, the craft, the jewelry just comes out in a flow that cannot be explained. You feel joyful, angry, content, depressed — whatever it is.
Sometimes you purchase a supply and you’re inspired by the supply itself. A beautiful piece of scrapbook paper, a gorgeous string of beads, the most beautiful color of blue acrylic paint.
Sometimes you find an old object and create a piece with it and the object itself is the inspiration. This happens to me a lot with my jewelry line — for example here is a salvaged piece I’m working on:
Sometimes the recipient of the piece is your inspiration. You’re making a beautiful card for your best friend’s birthday, for example.
Inspiration often comes from people’s stories: stories of heroism, triumph over evil or despair, hearing about how compassionate people can be, how strong they fought, how tenacious they were.
If you feel like you have no inspiration or that you’ve lost your inspiration, here are some tips:
1. Go for a walk. Either through your city or in nature. Be observant. Take a notebook and write or sketch what you see. Anything that catches your eye, draw it.
2. People watch. Sit on a park bench or go to the mall and watch the people. Write down snippets of what you hear or draw what you see.
3. Go through your craft supplies. Pick out 3 things that you have never – or rarely – use.
Create three different projects.
You do not have to finish a project/art piece. Just try the supply.
Repeat for all three supplies.
Put those projects somewhere near where you work on your arts and crafts to use as inspiration for more projects. Create a creativity shrine.
Do this as often as you want when you feel stuck.
Working with the different materials without the pressure of finishing something can inspire you to think about using the supplies in different ways, mix them up, etc.
4. Say no to unwanted commitments more often. You won’t be inspired when you have to do many things you don’t want to do.
5. Challenge yourself. Do something you have never done. Try a craft or an art you never tried before. I started painting relatively recently and it has really helped me feel more inspired!
6. Go somewhere new! See new sites and experience new things!
7. Clean. Everyone says it, and no one really knows why it works, but it does.
8. Light a candle or smell some aromatherapy oil. (Peppermint is great for focus and energy!)
9. Write morning pages each morning. If you’re not familiar with this practice, it’s from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Basically, write 3 longhand pages every morning. If you don’t know what to write, just write that you don’t know what to write. Keep writing until all three pages are full and then you’re done.
I have found this has also helped with my mood significantly. It’s like I get to dump out all of the crap onto the paper and then get on with my happy day.
10. Meditate. You can do this so many different ways. I like guided meditations where the person guides you through a scene. You also count to 100 with each breath. Or you can silently sit and focus on your breathing for a certain length of time.
11. Window shop. I live in a cute town with cool and unique boutiques and shops. See what they’re selling, how they are displaying it, notice the colors, etc.
So, I’m wondering, what inspires you?