On Finding Inspiration

March 16, 2017

Spring is just about to peek its lovely head out from behind the corner, but doesn’t it seem as if the winter days drag the most toward the middle of March? The blustery weather no longer sparkles, we no longer feel cozy–we just feel stuck. If you are a creative or an artist, and the days have begun to drag on, how do you find inspiration?

Josie Portillo

One too many days spent indoors can zap the creative flow and it’s difficult to navigate your work between times of making dinner or doing laundry or of staring out the window, wondering if the rain will ever stop. We’ve talked a bit about sketchbooks and how important the consistent output of work is to creating even more work, but what do you do when there’s just…nothing?

Today, in honor of sweeping the cobwebs out of our brains, we thought we would take a look back at our Artist Spotlights and find inspiration in our artists’ inspirations. Take a look below at some of their responses to the question of what inspires them. We hope it helps you find your inspiration, too:

“I’m not really conscious, but inevitably my environment inspires me, I’m sure; everything I like sticks in my head one way or another, and reflects when it is time to work. Because (I always say this but is true nonetheless) there is no inspiration without work. I’m a great believer in randomness during the creative process. I have started with pottery a short while ago, and I’m really enjoying it, so I think it will reflect in my work somehow.” – Blanca Gómez

Anna Emilia Laitinen

“Nature and people. We as human beings are very small next to the powerful nature. That is what I think most of the times when I paint. Even though we are very clever and all the time learning and discovering new things, we will never be as powerful as the nature is. The beauty of the nature is also how everything there interacts somehow together.” – Anna Emilia Laitinen

Josie Portillo

“Reading is important to me, and is a big source of inspiration. I’m also inspired by some of the travels I’ve done and a lot of what I do is based on memories of experiences I’ve had and places, people, and things I’ve seen. As far as reference goes, I was looking at a lot of 1950’s children’s books when I was in college – I think a lot of the simplistic shapes of that era stuck with me.” – Josie Portillo

Yelena Bryksenkova

“Books, films, music, memories, exhibitions, clothing, interesting color palettes, images I come across on the internet–absolutely everything. There’s usually one thing that has me captivated at any given moment and I live under its spell until the next wave of inspiration. I try to keep my eyes open and carry a notebook for writing down half-formed ideas or themes to return to. My mind and my computer are visual catalogs where I file away all of the beautiful things I see, and they all appear in my work eventually, in one form or another.” – Yelena Bryksenkova

“Traveling and trying new things. I get a ton of ideas when I’m not sitting around trying to think of one. Generally I get inspiration from everyday life and I definitely look at the past stylistically. I love going to thrift shops and antique malls. You’re guaranteed to see something interesting, unique, handmade, quirky, funny, beautiful and affordable if you go to the right spot. Not to mention the funny people watching.” – Danielle Kroll

Danielle Kroll

“Colour, colour combinations and patterns from all over the world.. Africa, Mexico, India, Belize, Eastern Europe… Flowers, animals, fashion, the city, the country and travel. I love to travel to new places. I think this opens up a whole world of possibilities and new creative experiences which translates into new and wonderful work. Plus, it refreshes your mind and energizes the soul.” – Carolyn Gavin

Carolyn Gavin

“I’m very influenced by vintage illustration from all over the world. I admire Russian avant-garde illustrators like Boris Ermelenko, the bold works of Fernand Nathan, Olle Eksell, Leonard Weisgard, Alice and Martin Provensen; Miroslav Sasek, Art Seiden, Arnold Edwin Bare and many many more. I also love old advertisements like the one from bally or old food illustrations. There is jelly everywhere and woman serve big meals to their husbands in their pink kitchens. I also love old Czechoslovakian, Polish and Russian matchbox labels and vintage travel posters, mainly from England. I could not limit my self to one artist or one direction. Each one of them has something that fascinates me. What I mainly love about those kind of illustrations is the limited color palette, the bold shapes and the beautiful printing techniques they are made with.” – Barbara Dziadosz

James Gulliver Hancock

“Everything around me basically. I like to gather influence from anything from a bike ride around the block, to reading a children’s book to reading a science or philosophy article online. I don’t typically look at other artists or illustrators for inspiration, as doing so usually has the opposite effect, I like to pull ideas from more abstract thoughts. Even just seeing an interesting pattern, or the way the tree in the park meets the grass can lead to a new way of thinking about a drawing.” – James Gulliver Hancock

“Everything. Nature, flowers, forest, movies, songs, fashion, books, stories, colors, shapes, people, animals, antiques, museums.” – Dinara Mirtalipova

Dinara Mirtalipova

“I don’t know….I get asked this a lot and there’s no answer really. I think, as a rule, creative people are greedy, we consume books and music and film in high volumes and that contributes to our work, of course it does. But its hard to pinpoint, at any given moment, where an influence has come from as its merged with all the other stuff going on in your head. So a drawing might come from a song I’ve heard, something by Withered Hand or Karen Dalton perhaps, but it also comes from the mood I was in when I woke up that morning, the weather, who I’ve been speaking to. Rarely do my ‘favourite things’ crop up in my work. […] Its just a feeling you get when you see something that ‘gets to you.’ That irrepressible urge to make things. Its important not to disregard anything you encounter, its all good stuff. The greedier you are with things the more you’ll have to go on.” – Lizzy Stewart

Lizzy Stewart

“I’ve been asked this question a lot, and it’s hard to answer honestly. My environment has always been really important, including experiences of new places. Work and life are so intertwined that I can’t really pick out specific inspirations. Taking the time to observe what’s around me helps me stay conscious of what I’m thinking and feeling, and I think that influences my work.” – Kate Pugsley

Kate Pugsley

“Everywhere. Experiences. Dreams of yesterdays past. Books. Nature. And, in the last year, Pinterest!” – Nicholas John Frith

“Epic question! So many things inspire me. Children’s book illustration and graphic art from the 50s-60s, nature, simplicity, cities, children’s art, animation, fine art, music, I could keep going.” – Christian Robinson

What Inspires Christian Robinson
Christian Robinson

“I love objects–things with stories, collecting things, arranging things, discovering things. The natural world is hugely influential. I always go back and draw from memories of experiences and places. I love looking to current interior design and fashion–even if they don’t show up directly in my work. I feel very blessed to have family and friends who inspire me creatively. My brother has been staying with us for the past few months while he works on his studio apartment–he does the most amazing woodworking. Lately it has been especially inspiring to spend so much time talking over new projects and creative plans with him and my husband.” – Kelsey Garrity Riley

Kelsey Garrity-Riley

“Looking at everything, especially shapes and colours. Good food. Films and music. All the girl characters I’ve been obsessed with since I was little. Starting with Pippi Longstocking (in the amazing picture book illustrations by Ingrid Vang Nyman), later Anne of Green Gables, Harriet the Spy, Margot Tenenbaum, Lisbeth Salander and so many more.” – Anke Weckmann

Anke Weckmann