Inspiration can come in many forms and can find us when we least expect it. Some days we can be buzzing with so many ideas we can’t get them out of our heads quick enough yet at other times it is not so easy to feel inspired. On the podcast that we recorded last week (to be released on 12th August) Izzy and I discuss inspiration and what it means. Personally, I feel there is a blurring of boundaries between inspiration and motivation as well as inspiration and ideas but Izzy definitely sees inspiration, motivation and ideas as separate things. I don’t think either of us is right or wrong as the study of inspiration (as reported in Psychology Today) has proved a minefield fraught with differing ideas about definition and focus, but this is one definition I have found that resonates with me
“Inspiration is a motivational concept. It’s what motivates us to be creative and allows us to transmit an idea into a creative outcome”
So in short, inspiration is what motivates us to turn ideas into something creative which is I think is how I see it.
I am inspired by many different things but time and time again it is the written word that will spark an idea, often a line from a book or a quote and one of my favourites is still a line from the novel ‘The Lacuna’ by Barbara Kingsolver. It tells the story of fictional character Harrison Shepherd against a backdrop of real events from his time working for the artist Frida Kahlo in Mexico through to the America of J. Edgar Hoover. It shows how history, public opinion and art can shape a life and is a rich, evocative piece of literature… my desert island discs book that has inspired many artworks but in particular this piece also titled ‘Lacuna”.
The most important thing about a person is always the thing you don't know" Frida Kahlo in "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver
If you listen to the very first episode of our podcast you will hear how this played an important part in the connection between me and Izzy!
But for those times when inspiration alludes us, what can we do? These are some of my favourite ways to start to get ideas flowing.
· Try to read something different… a book, a magazine, an article online. The written word has often given me my best ideas and I love as good quote as you can probably tell from the paragraph above! I always try to keep a notebook handy for scribbling down those inspirational words. Of course, the trick is then to find that notebook at the right time….
· Flicking through old notebooks and sketchbooks can often spark new ideas and in fact I found a quote in one yesterday. Well to be honest I found it on a scrap of paper and I’m not entirely sure where it fell out from but it has now been stuck into my current sketchbook to remind me that sometimes we need to be brave when inspiration strikes.
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr Seuss
· Go for a walk somewhere new. The physical act of moving our bodies and being out with nature can be wonderful for getting our brains working too.
· Try to go out and meet people. I know this hasn’t been so easy recently but lot of my walks over the past year have been with friends, and I think the real trick when being with other people is really learning to listen and to have proper conversations. I thought this article was brilliant: Be Interested, be curious and being interested and curious about everything is another way to keep inspiration flowing
· Team up with others. This time last year I sent Izzy a message to ask if she had ever thought about doing a podcast and here we are with nineteen episodes under our belt. And yes, it’s inspiring to catch up with what each other is doing and the act of checking in with each other every couple of weeks definitely keeps us on track. But collaborative projects can take on any form and in the past I have done things like altered book projects or postcards exchanges with friends that have been great for sparking new ideas
· Learn something new. I recently learned how to make miniature baskets and it sent me down a rabbit hole of exploring natural materials and making cordage from plant fibres. It has totally inspired me to learn and discover more, although at the moment I am frustrated by my lack of technique. I know I need to take my time and practice but it’s easier said than done so I’m indulging this latest passion through some rather lovely Instagram feeds so do check these out: Suzie Grieve of Foraged Fibres and Rosie Farey
· Subscribe to newsletters! I know that we can suffer from inbox overload and I will often subscribe and then unsubscribe from various newsletters but sometimes something will pop into my inbox and provide a spark of inspiration. Some of my favourites are from James Clear, Austin Kleon and Seth Godin… it’s that written word again
· Keep a sketchbook! Exploring the things we see every day, the mundane and the ordinary, through a collection of sketches, notes and photographs can keep the inspiration flowing. I have been sharing pages of my sketchbooks on my Instagram feed over the past couple of weeks and will probably continue to do so as it seems to be inspiring others. You can find my Instagram feed here: Gina Ferrari Art
These are just a few of my favourite ways to spark inspiration and I am sure you all have your own which I would love to hear about… so do leave a comment here, or on my Instagram feed or Facebook or send me an email, because connecting with others is always inspiring!