It has been said somewhere that a full-time professional artist makes on average 30 art pieces per year... that is around 1 piece every 12.1 days... and that is impressive (take a bow if you fit that stat)! Imagine if they relied on the trusty dusty old candle of inspiration to remain alight the entire time to churn out their signature pieces? Well, I don't know about you, but I lost my candle at art school and in the process of life as an adult... so the thought of relying on that whim to create a body of work to stun and amaze millions (I'm dreaming, but lets run with it) seems like relying on the Easter Bunny to bring me chocolate once a year. Seems to make sense that if I want some chocolate I better go to the store and get a bucket load myself rather then wait on an idea to hop through my life every now and again.
CREATIVITY/INSPIRATION, that darn annoying thing we think we need to be productive. Have a read of this quote from Chuck Close:
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”
― Chuck Close
Reading that quote just about stuffed me under a pillow and sat on me... regrouping the brain cells after that one took some time as I was certain that I couldn't create the work I felt was my best without the tingling sensation of pure inspiration. I would often have several random pieces on the go, struggling to get to the finish line with any of them as inspiration seemed to slip through my finger tips as the process took over the idea.
So I changed my idea on inspiration and getting the job done.
"Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found."
— James Russell Lowell (1819-1891)
Creativity & inspiration is a process, NOT a feeling.
1. Inspiration is the idea, it's step one.
Without an idea for a series of work, I felt I was in limbo. Inspiration became the light of an initial idea. This idea was better if it was based on research (what has been proven in its own right to be the next best decision, based on responses in the market and/or to previous work) as well as something that is important to me as a brand and an artist.
2. The idea becomes the foundation to build on.
Ideas are delicate and sensitive. They are also flexible. Life has a habit of warping and twisting things in ways that we didn’t think were possible. That initial idea needs to be broken down into parts and used to plan a schedule that I could stick to, with a deadline and an overall goal. This is where that initial inspiration is usually burnt out... which is why it was so important to change how I relied on inspiration, so that I could keep to the original plan.
3. The goal becomes the motivator and the deadline becomes the drive.
If the initial idea was based on a sound bit of research, there is a handle to hold when the drive and motivation for the project start to slip away. Keeping to the schedule already outlined and knowing exactly what you want (kinda like a business plan) tends to keep the ball rolling.
4. Getting feed back becomes your savior.
Once the project takes a bit of shape, that research expands into an ongoing course of action that can be followed and used to achieve the goal. Getting feed back using friends, family and social media can refine the project in ways that you would not be able to see due to your proximity to the project. People may be annoying at best when it comes to your personal art work, but man do they make some good points! Involve people whose opinions you trust, who share your vision and who know you as an artist to express their opinions on your work. SO valuable!