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? :)