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Where does your inspiration come from?

That is the number one question I am asked about my art, from other artists and the nonartists alike.

My inspiration comes from life! From everything. Everywhere I go, all that I see, everything I do adds to my overwhelming fount.

I think one of the number one things that can help many artists, especially those who would ask this question, is to learn to really see the world. To open your eyes and become an observer. As artists, it is our job to capture emotion, moment, experience - to share these wonderful snapshots, ideals, ideas with the world. How can you thoroughly share and connect with something that is not dear to your heart and clear in your mind?

Society bombards us with information. Flashing lights, media ads, sights and smells of the city. Everything is fast paced, in your face. As a result, most of us learn to shut down. To put the blinders on to cope. How many times have you walked down the street and never seen the people you passed? How many drives have you taken where you 'wake up' at the end and wonder where the last fifty miles went?

When you practice observation, you will be amazed at how the world opens up to you. When you learn to live in the moment - the world is an amazing place. Look at the grass, the trees, the squirrel snatching someone's tossed away hamburger bun.

This has the amazing side effect of perspective - reminding you how easy it is to get entrenched in your routine, your own head. How easy it is to block everything out and let your problems circulate, enlarge. When you're involved with the world, it's much harder to focus on yourself and let yourself slip into destructive or depressive patterns.

So go watch an ant for an hour. Lay in the grass and marvel at how many species are really growing in your lawn. Try to follow a squirrel through a city. Sit in a coffee shop and people watch.

If you can't find anything interesting or inspiring in your life, that is a big sign you need to shake up your routine a little. If you can, travel. It doesn't have to be a huge trip, get out and take a different route around your neighborhood. Find a new bike trail. Windowshop at a store you've never been to. If you absolutely can't, open yourself to your daily routine. Look at what you do, think how you would describe each thing to someone else if you were writing your auto-biography. Notice a new tree, a crack in the sidewalk.

If you haven't done this before, or have fallen out of the habit of it, try it (again!). You'll be amazed how it can change your mood, your perspective, spark ideas.

For me, personally, animals are my biggest inspiration. Working with them, sharing my life with them, I am constantly amazed and re-inspired. Before my home became a host to these awesome creatures, I would spend the day at the zoo, volunteer for the humane society, work at wildlife rehab. Anything, to be around them. My art focuses on the unique spirit of animals and their connection to people, culture, and individuals.

However, I get inspiration from everywhere. Music, travel, culture, behavior - all of these things are especially fascinating to me.

I can remember clearly, one day driving home exhausted after a long overnight shift at work, grumpy and drained. When nearing my house, I shook off the zombie mode and opened my eyes.

Beyond the street lights I saw a beautiful sunrise, the orange light casting a golden glow on the farm field at the farthest reach of my view. It was so simple, so beautiful, the play of colors and light. Someone else could look at this and think, another midwestern stretch of wasted cornland, or just not see it at all - but seeing this, taking a deep breath and smiling, I let everything else wash away and realized just how amazing anywhere can be, if you just look at it from a different viewpoint. We all chose how we react to any given situation. Love it or hate it, doesn't change what is - just how you feel about it.

So I ask again, what inspires you? :)


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 16th, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
I stared at your cats feet for like...20 minutes..and stayed up half the night doing that commission. Fully agreed, animals ARE inspiring!
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
I'm the same as you.

I've walked through the streets of the 'cold lifeless' San Francisco, looked up, and seen Peregrine falcons, pigeons, Ravens, Crows and sparrow.

I've looked down and seen ants, beetles, mice, rats and maggots...nature's cleaning crew.

I've looked around, cats, dogs, squirrels, humans, and stranger animals. (A ferret?)

I've seen tanker ships almost crash into each other, pirates firing cannons at each other, a bumfight, more happy homeless people than I care to count, protests, fistfights, exuberant lovers, someone getting news of their sister's death over a telephone...A pregnant woman complaining of contractions...and I'm sure others could say they've seen a giant walking bat...on the streets of Japantown.

Everything is life. It's amazing to be part of it. Anywhere and everywhere.

I get a lot of faux-native, faux-spiritual people asking me how I can live here...how I can live amongst the stench and oppression of the city.

They tell me the ONLY way to touch nature is to go to some imagined, pristine place in the wilderness.

I laugh, politely tell them that I can touch each of the elements here. The sunlight or a cast aside cigarette butt is my fire, the strong winds only made stronger by the lack of trees or the feathers of a pigeon are my air. Water is easy, from the soft fog-rain to washings of the sidewalk to the rot-scent of the bay. Earth, even easier... the buildings are made of medal, the concrete is stone.

It's just another forest.

They scoff at me. They could never live in the city, and bemoan every moment that they're 'forced' to live here.

Leave then. I tell them, as I pad away, through my forest of life, death and concrete.

They never do leave. Life is too easy here. Money is abundant, everything you want is just the next block over.

Life in the wilds is harder, but it's still life. You survive in both places, learn skills for both places. Both have their pros and cons. It's all a space to live.

Everything is natural, everything is a natural inspiration. Everywhere I walk is magickal. I am a Natural Witch. Nature is everywhere.

Maybe that's just me. An adaptable wolf...with a cockroach totem.
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:32 am (UTC)
That's an awesome way to look at things. :)
I am not much of a city person - I like to visit but not to live, but I know many people who love cities (Mbala is one of them!) and I can definitely appreciate what is there. It's a completely personal thing for me - I can certainly see what the attraction is for most people. A lot of people romanticize nature - few people think about septic tanks, gopher-destroyed foundations, etc. etc when it comes to country living.
It's awesome you can so well connect to the pulse of where you're at. :)
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:42 am (UTC)
I've lived out in BFE too. ::Grins:: There's no one place that's more magickal than another for me. It's all part of the earth.

I laugh about my cockroach totem. But, I do believe I have one now. I can live anywhere, through anything. I think there's some possum in there...due to the beating I've taken...and SURVIVED!

A LOT of people romanticize nature, and demonize the city, without merit! Because they read about it in some book, or saw someone they idolize doing the same.

I'd be able to live anywhere. And if I didn't like where I was, I'd also be able to move on until I was happy and settled. It's the people that constantly complain about where they are, and do nothing to get out of it, that bother me the most.
Jun. 19th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
You know, from a (cultural) geographer's point of view your response is very interesting. Thanks for sharing!
Jun. 20th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Heh, thanks!!

I'm just a little fed up with how many people try to tell me that you can't be a nature based spiritual person in a big city.

My SO doesn't do well in the city, and I can understand that. Certain types of living aren't for everyone. For him, living in the city isn't his prime territory. He isn't comfortable or happy living in even the suburbs. He does better on large chunks of wooded areas.

However, that's how HE does better. I'm fortunate that he's never told me how to feel about an area.

If you've got any questions, lemme know, I love talking!
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:30 am (UTC)
Landscapes (The cities one, as well the fields), nature, animals, art and music. Mostly music inspires me because i can think the background that might suit the melody or the lyrics behind the songs.
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:33 am (UTC)
Any music in particular? Favorite songs you'd like to share? :) Music is really inspirational to me, as well - what I'm listening to can really affect my mood a lot.
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:47 am (UTC)
Italian music (i love italian language) is my main inspirational, as well electronic music. I'm the kind who can hear any kind of music, but these are my main "wearpon" when i need inspiration from. And for favourite songs... i have a lot of them:

- "Move your body", "Silicon World", "The Edge" and "Fligi Di Pitagora" by Eiffel 65
- "Contra vientos y mareas" by Franco de Vita
- Any song of Max Pezzali, Nek or Tiziano Ferro
- "Más alla", "Fuera de mi", "Mi ley", "Deuxieme fois", The corridor", "Doble opuesto" by La ley
- "Love in Siberia" by Hampenberg
- "Alla Fiera dell'est" by Angelo Branduardi
- "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley (the video is beautiful as well).
- "Laika", "Cruz de navajas", "La forza del destino", "Dalai Lama" and more from Mecano.
- "Byakkoya no musume" by Hirasawa Susumu (from the Paprika's movie. Is a nice movie, too).

And more i cant think off xD
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:48 am (UTC)
I will check those out, thank you! :) I agree, the italian language is really beautiful - I don't really have experience with it outside of opera.
Jun. 16th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC)
In my case it was very funny because it all started when i wanted that my "main" character Mileno had a nationality and i started to read about Italy and it makes me feel in love with the country and the culture. I'm studing Italian atm and my dad is contemplating in visit Italy when i finish the courses.

About the opera, it brings into my memory something that happend me: I was on my institute's library talking with a friend of mine and i was telling to her how much i would love to study Italian when suddenly an old man aproach us and told me "Leave italian language to the opera and try to learn Latin, since it would help you to undestand the latin languages" and leaves... me and my friend stayed like "wtf?" for a lot of minutes :/
Jun. 16th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Oh, i forgot "Lighthouse Family" as well. I love that group so much.
Jun. 17th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you for those recommendations! I found some of them on emusic - I especially loved Edoardo de Angelis (found some oboe/classical music with him singing). I haven't listened to much Europop, either, before but some of it is really catchy!
Jun. 16th, 2009 06:30 am (UTC)
Competent people doing something productive. Sure fire way to motivate me to such ambition.
Jun. 16th, 2009 08:38 am (UTC)
That's so true what you write here... people forget to notice details and get stuck in their heads. But it's a big threat to the artists too, it can happen to anyone. I myself got through this in the last several months and now I'm slowly recovering.

I get my inspiration from my friends and things we do together. Or more likely i get the positive energy from it. When I'm happy, I'm creative and productive. I'm not used to go out alone, it's more fun to be with friends (and also sometimes it's also a bit dangerous to go out even though I carry a tear gas with me). There are ridiculous and funny situations which inspire me a lot. Like the last time I was at zoo. We heard an older woman saying "Look, Carl, a rhino!". When we looked at her, she was holding a poodle who seemed to be totally unimpressed. :D
I still remember that, some day I'll draw a fanart to this situation.
Also the nature... that's a definite source of inspiration for everything. Think of the design of things - the modern or even the past ones. Like secession 100 years ago. And the more you observe, the more you can get from it later when you create something. We live in amazing world. :)
Jun. 16th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
Same here, except I'm lousy at getting it all on paper, so I use my camera.

I remember a morning, several years ago. I was walking down the hill to catch the tram, it was grey and kinda misty out, when the sun rose ahead of me like a big orange basketball, just hanging in the sky. Amazing.

Things like that :)
Jun. 16th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Very well stated Fox, this is something I need to go out and do more. As a hobbiest outdoor photographer I know very well what you mean, and the best shots often are the ones that most people miss because most people "miss" or "overlook" them. Thus is why I need to do such excersizes more often, when I get over my cold at the very least. It both helps me get in shape and is just otherwise well... refreshing.

I've found walking some of the nature trails in parks even in the Twin Cities can be quite refreshing. The TC is fairly unique for this matter, we have several large preserves right in the middle of the city, such as Fort Snelling state park, which stretch on for MILES. Get deep enough on foot in one of these, and there is no way you can tell that you are near a large city, if it weren't for aircraft that fly overhead.

Specific inspirations for me? Hmm.. a warm quiet summer night at sunset on a boat on a lake is on the top of the list for sure. There just isn't anything else like it, atleast in my mind.

Exploring someplace new, as you said is also a huge inspiration for me. There are plenty of places in the TC, nevermind the state of Minnesota that I've never explored; I could keep myself busy for years within 50 miles of my house.
Jun. 17th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Heavy metal, odd fashion, human anatomy, the occult...

I'm totally a city person, a man of the great indoors. :D
Jun. 17th, 2009 08:53 am (UTC)
That's a quite difficult question for me to answer but as I'm mainly interested in photography nowadays, I'd say - nature. I try to take photos which allow you to see something you don't see everyday - so obviously things which inspire me are the ones which look somehow unusual for me (or the ones you quite often overlook): things breaking the patterns, forming unique structures, animals behaving in some interesting ways and so on... My curiosity plays a big role, too, as after taking photos I quite often notice things I didn't see before so it's like "I wonder what I'm going to see if I take a photo like this".

However, if I was drawing/painting, I'm pretty sure that my main inspiration would be music. :}
Jul. 25th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
Inspiration... perhaps my viewpoint is different because I'm not "creative" in the sense that my inspiration leads to works of beauty. But your description strikes a great chord with me. There are times when my head is full of clamour and I stumble through the world; and then sometimes I'm lucid and receptive, filled with a great inner quiet, and everything is beautiful to me. It doesn't depend on any particular milieu, though some are obviously more conducive than others: today I had it while walking by the clear waters of the river, but sometimes it'll come upon me in the open-plan office and flat fluorescent lighting of my working day.

I'm coming to realise that these times of silent clarity, this inspiration, are the true high points of my life, and something devoutly to be cultivated.

Edited at 2009-07-25 09:54 pm (UTC)
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )