Where Does Inspiration Come From?

And how can I get inspired too?"

This is one of the most common questions I get asked as an artist. It seems that everyone believes I'm tapped into something special in the world and my ideas just pour from a void in space and end up across canvas, in my camera, on Patreon, filling journals, creating books, because I was born that way. Let me tell you something.... 

I absolutely WAS born that way. I came into this world, as most of us do, wide eyed and curious about almost everything the blue sky was sheltering. I got lucky. My mother was one of those creative people who also wanted children and she did her best to get me creative tools. She encouraged my creativity. My first gallery was on her fridge, where I would use magnets to proudly display marker horses and crayon dogs.  And, yet, also... creativity is more than curiosity. It's more than art tools. It's more than being open. It's more than everything and it's also incredibly simple to curate in your own life. 


This Flyer was a source of Inspiration for me last week as I was out walking. The Hairpin and the word “Lost” is just brilliant.

This Flyer was a source of Inspiration for me last week as I was out walking. The Hairpin and the word “Lost” is just brilliant.

First of all, let's ask you a few questions. Grab a pen and paper, or talk back to me thru this computer screen, in the comments section. We love hearing from you.

1. Why do you want to know where inspiration comes from? 

2. What makes you curious in your life?

3. What do you wish you knew more about?

4. What does the word inspiration mean to you?

5. Do you believe inspiration can be found everywhere? 



Ok. Now that we've located you in the midst of the question, feel your way through the rest of this article. 

Inspiration is cultivated for me, by me and often by the pleasure of happy accidents. I spend quite a bit of my time keeping my liver healthy by walking outside and engaging in free and easy wandering. Have you taken a walk, early in the morning, nowhere really to go but the corner coffee shop, where the mist is light and the sky is grey and everything you pass, stands out in high, vibrant contrast? I spend quite a bit of my time hanging out on the streets of Portland like this, walking and letting the flow of images not only fill me up, but inspire concepts for me. 

As the mind is a tricky thing, and mine is an even more slippery memory eel, I bring my camera. My Canon or my phone, depending on my destination and I photograph random things which appeal to me. A mailbox, the neighbor walking their dog in a purple bathrobe and Doc Martins, a fern uncoiling in the spring, the tufted Elephant grass in the fall, a bit of trash lingering in the gutter with the words "Buy More" still clinging to it's fading surface. 

I also take a small notebook with me everywhere. I jot down ideas as soon as they hit me. IF I don't jot them down, they leave, vanish, vacate, poof.  Some simple examples are as follows: 

Watching Fight Club: Make Hope Soap

Sitting in Fat Jacks waiting for terrible Pizza: Crow is on a road trip and her shoulders are back, hair blowing in the breeze. 

On the NOLA streetcar: $3 is a simple price to pay for an hour of resting. 

I also bring a sketchbook most places with me. It's not only an incredible inspiration catcher, it's my favorite boredom buster. Friend is late picking you up? Doodle your coffee cup while you wait. Dinner out is terrible with your honey, draw the food, it looks better that way. Lonely? Sit down and doodle the nearest thing that catches your eye. As you sink into the process, you will see that what inspires you, could, in fact, inspire someone else. 

Inspiration Catchers: 

Bring a small portable inspiration bag everywhere with you. Pack it with a lightweight sketchbook, a tiny journal and a small camera. Collect images with all of these mediums and see what comes to your work during that week. What did you love? What felt strange? 

Also, I think an inspiration hunt might open your peepers a bit easier, so let's play and create, shall we? 

I spy, Inspiration:

- a piece of rubbish with a glint. 

-a headline you can't stop thinking about

-a plant growing somewhere unusual

-a person doing something quite silly in a very serious way. 

-a dog taking a walk and looking completely stoked. What are the dog's thoughts?

-a stolen moment

-your favorite food

-a favorite quote/poem/passage

-strangers dancing somewhere surprising

-a damn good outfit on you, or on someone else

-an inspiration searching adventure where you go by bike

-a new form of transportation, made from your mind. 

-a picture of what your own thot cloud factory looks like

-a doodle you catch site of in a coffee shop- can you capture it?

-a book you are curious about

-a particularly juicy eavesdropping story you overhear

-a smell that reminds you of... 

-anything else that makes you feel silly, delighted and playful.