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6 ways to find creative inspiration

Six ways to find creative inspiration

Creative juices running dry? In need of a perk up. Here’s six ways I find creative inspiration…

As much as it makes me happy to do a creative job and live an artful life, sometimes it can be frustrating when the proverbial muse leaves me and I feel devoid of ideas.

I used to worry about this, in fact sometimes it would make me incredibly anxious and even a bit angry but I now see these creative dry spells as a gift. I use it as an excuse to wind down, declutter and remind myself of why I love doing what I do.

Shibori coasters (c) Ella Johnston 1: A good start
I work from home and so most mornings I get up, do a bit of exercise, hop in the shower, throw some clothes on then get to my desk or studio space. Coffee and breakfast is usually consumed at the workspace and there’s little time for reflection and contemplation; just work and getting it right.

If I’m having a creative lull I make the most of breakfast with pot of tea, lovely toast and fresh orange juice and, in this digital age, a newspaper and a notebook. This is all accompanied by a sound track of Radio 4. This allows me space to think before I start the day, to plan and prioritise tasks and maybe even to let some very initial ideas percolate.

Vintage Potetry Vignette Create the space
Every time I complete a big art project I give my studio a major clear up and it’s amazing how this process in itself can leave me feeling fresh and creatively raring to go once I’ve finished.

I’m now doing this at home too and it’s quite interesting how rearranging your surfaces and chucking out the clutter (and setting stuff aside for upcycling) can give you some head space as you create a clean, fuss free spaces to work in and be inspired by. The act of clearing and cleaning can be quite meditative for me, I allow thoughts to come in and out and I always end-up finding something like an old poster, notebook or cutting that sparks off an idea.

pinterest3:  A peruse of Pinterest
I sometimes think Pinterest could be cited as a third party in many a divorce case and I do worry that Dr B sees it as a bit of a love rival. Pinterest has worked so well for me as an artist, illustrator and in my past life as a magazine editor.

It’s my ultimate scrapbook that I can add to and reflect upon as long as I’ve got my phone or computer. I used to keep folders of tear sheets and an enormous list of internet bookmarks of images, articles, recipes, anything really that got me thinking, made me smile or think “wow” and generally got me to up my game in some way. Now all my whimsies, inspirations and things I covet are all in one place. Take a look into my world here.


4:  A good read
Although I love a bit of Pinterest, I am a massive advocate of a digital detox, in fact I highly recommend it. Words and stories are important to me and ever since I could learn to read, books can take me to another place mentally and help me create all sorts of imagery in my imagination. Freeing my imagination is essential for my working practice and my life. Reading also allows me to meet a whole heap of interesting people.

I’ve often extolled the virtues of a physical book on this blog. For me the physical engagement with a book is a thing of wonder; you can’t swipe, you have to put yourself in position as it were so you’re properly connecting with the thing.  Also, a design junkie like me can get quite geeky on page layout grids, cover imagery and typefaces.

Humphrey Bogart (1899 - 1957) and Ingrid Bergman (1915 - 1982) star in the Warner Brothers film 'Casablanca', 1942. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman star in the Warner Brothers film ‘Casablanca’, 1942. (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)

5:  Enjoy cinematic classics
More digital detoxing. I am a massive fan of classic cinema from 1930 to around 1970. People were so well dressed and hot over that period. Scenes were longer, dialogue took its time and it’s all framed so beautifully. Oh and the music is always pretty evocative. Escapism at its best sure, but there’s also some great examples of artistry in these movies and you can  get immersed in the director’s vision and cinematography. A real treat.

quay6  An invigorating walk
I know that I live in a beautiful place with a gorgeous quay and picturesque houses. And, I must admit the wading birds and Wivenhoe’s big beautiful sky can stagger me out of my fug most days. However I think most environments in the UK are pretty inspirational. Ever since I was a teenager I would clear my head and find inspiration by getting out on a walk. I lived on a housing estate in Hackney surrounded by print factories and the environment was very urban and industrial, I loved it. Opening my eyes, walking around and experiencing any environment I’m in really gets my creative juices flowing, it’s one of my favourite things to do.