Know Your Inspiration... get rid of it.

If Kirby Ferguson is right with his statement that "Everything is a remix", then there is no need to worry that you are going to create something completely new - ever.

I believe that isn´t even necessary.

From Motorcycle to Cyborg (process video here) inspired by Cat-meff

An inherent desire to Copy, transform and to combine is what makes creative people creative by default.
Some folks worry too much about originality, others don´t even care.
Suzanne Helmigh wrote a nice article about that matter in particular - I will just write about creativity and inspiration with the creative person in mind that finds him or herself somewhere in the middle:

"knowing there is no chance of creating something absolutely new, but being confident that there is always room for a new or unique perspective."

I´m intrigued by the phenomenon creativity that I like to gather some interesting information about that topic in regard that the title of this article is going to make more sense.

The Theory:
Knowing your inspiration and keeping track of the sources makes it easier to develop a very own style.
Because with time you know what works and what not and can keep those stylistic influences along with new ones that evolve along the way.

It isn´t even necessary to get rid of inspiration, if properly credited, but in terms of developing a unique handwriting in artistic expression it makes all the way sense of keeping a journal of what inspires you.

It is also good and motivating to know that there is always room to create endless possiblities.
When you know that there are endless possiblities and popular artists only have found a way to make something existing shine in a new light through copying, transformation and combination, it gets a lot easier to drop the pressure of coming up with something absolutely unique.

It may not be something new or avantgarde, but that isn´t necessary either because people feel comfortable when discovering something familiar. This can be anything, ranging from symbols, fashion trends, artistic trends color trends and contemporary values.

Depending on your target group it is even encouraged to play with symbols known among these people to contribute value as an artist. Thats exactly what filmmakers do and publishers. As artist we probably have more creative freedom because we can achieve more with little cost as opposed to a production-team that can easily consist of 200 heads.

Practial advice:
In practice it makes sense to use a journal or sketchbook to capture ideas. I do often sketches on different layers in one document and see how it evolves. That can also be done using a scrapsheet where you put different thumbnail sketches on one sheet. Whatever helps to get the idea pulled, will do the job.

  • It makes sense to harvest art books to get inspiration, but also websites like Pinterest, tumblr, facebook (with the right subscriptions) and deviantArt.
  • I recommend having inspiring works collected in a folder related to an individual project and another one for general collecting purposes.
    With cloud-storage getting cheap and even free 5-10GB, it makes sense to sync your inspiration folders on all devices. Something I did recently and it makes a huge difference.
  • Art school will not help you to be more creativity or to inspire you, it is simply not their job. They have a stamp for you and either you want to carry it or not. Period.
  • Do something now. Question it later.
  • Inspiration can originate from other artists work or photographs, by crediting your sources you don´t cheat, you give credit where it is due and if you want to make a living, it is the only right thing to do.
  • There is no such thing as talent, there is just creativity or not: studies have shown that children at the age of 5 years are still at their highest creativity level, after graduating from highschool, or at the age of 25 years only 2% are able to use their creativity to the fullest capacity.
  • Inspirational can also be a talk with good friends. Many of the ideas I have on my list for the Skull:z & Idols project came from friends who suggested them. 
  • A lot of creative and especially successful creative work stems from the right decisions.

This means questioning things at your own and not putting into account the opinion of others. For example, there can be a great idea, but poor execution prevent it from being seen or even from being finished. On the other hand a poor concept can benefit from a great execution but it will never be outstanding because a great execution is just craftmanship - not originality. To be inpirational you have to deliver more; great ideas and great execution. For being recognized as original creator you have to deliver both on a regular basis.
Not the hardest thing to do because both is depending on practice and patience - not talent.

However, if you only look to what others do and what makes them popular, it will lead you only so far - without the following. There is more to a following than just people who buy your stuff, if treated correctly it is a tribe, people that can give you valuable input or constructive critique, that help you to decide and give you constant support. But what a following on facebook, twitter or deviantArt can not do for you is to make decisions.

You get eventually feedback on your decisions and see what works or what not, from there it is almost always: rinse and repeat.

Art is a dirty work, but somebody has to do it.
(Joachim Lüttke)

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


  1. I have to admit. For me, to get my out an artistic piece out, I DO need to get inspired from something and mostly these inspiration revolve from music or movies that I watch or like you said from looking at other peoples artwork. Good read!

    1. Thank you for the comment and your opinion! I believe the problem often evolves from not knowing exactly what influenced, let´s say a part of our creation, - that make it feel strange or different in a good or a bad way - being able to point out what causes this feeling can help to move on.



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