Where do you get your inspiration?
This is a question that I'm often asked about my patterns and one that I'm also fond of asking of other designers. We all get inspired by different things that ignite our imagination and get our pens scribbling and our mouse clicking (or wacom pen... tapping...?)
Where do you get your inspiration from? I'd love to know, please leave a comment below if you'd like to share.
For me it is from a number of places. I am lucky enough to live in a pretty rural location and I walk my son to school every day across the fields or up country lanes. Sounds idyllic doesn't it, but there are days when it is so muddy that you can barely walk as it is so slippery and there are always horse poos to avoid up our road and potholes the size of moon craters. But yes, it is pretty idyllic really. And I am always inspired by being outside and seeing the change in seasons and the different plants and flowers that pop up at different times of year.
We have a lot of birds around here too, and wildlife, which is always inspiring, so going for a walk would be my first idea for inspiration or even just to clear my head if I am feeling stuck in a rut, and it doesn't have to be out in the countryside, the towns and cities can be just as inspiring too.
I also love sticking my nose in a good book when I am scared of staring at a white sheet of paper for too long, and I have a lovely and growing collection of inspiring books sitting on my shelf.
I also have a special scrapbook where I stick in things that inspire me. Like images from the internet or scraps of fabric or packaging that I like, anything that grabs my eye really, either for composition or colour palette or if something sparks an idea.
A couple of years ago my brother bought me a fantastic notebook for Christmas called 'One Sketch A Day'. It was exactly what I needed at the time to keep me drawing and to get back in the swing of drawing again after a bit of a break. It was sometimes hard to think what to draw every single day, and as a result some pages are definitely better than others! But this book is now a great source of inspiration to me when I feel like I am out of ideas. There is often something in here that sparks a cunning plan, and many of my patterns have started their life here.
Just looking around the house can be inspiring too. I like to keep postcards and things my children have made and nik naks and homewares that I love around my house to act as a constant source of inspiration.
And I am a self confessed fabric addict, and have a rather large stash of beautiful fabrics that I sometimes use as inspiration of colours or composition on my own patterns. I can rarely pass a fabric shop or a haberdashery department without 'just popping in for a look' which often leads to buying a little something... I see it as essential research and supporting my fellow surface designers of course...
Sometimes I get inspiration from things that pop through the letterbox, a homewares catalog or magazine. Or by going for a little bit of comp shopping to see what trends and colours are out there at the moment. Look at the gorgeous colours on the cover of this catalog that popped through the door yesterday.
Part of the fantastic MIID Ultimate Portfolio Builder course that I took last year provided a daily dose of inspiration in the form of downloadable flash cards to help spark ideas. Thanks to a brilliant idea from one of my course-mates, I have gathered these up into a business card wallet which I can easily flick through when I am wondering what to draw, I can even combine ideas by picking two or three cards at random and seeing what comes out!
You really can get inspiration from anywhere at anytime. Sometimes even from something someone is wearing, or something that passes you by in a flash on the street, or from a dream. I don't always have the time to act on those ideas straight away, but I love to give myself 'drawing days' where I can just sit outside in the sunshine or curled up on the sofa and just sketch and doodle and scribble and let all these ideas that have been bubbling up come out. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don't. The important thing is to capture the ideas when they come in some way, on your phone or in a notebook so that when you make the time to start doodling they are there for you.
And some days of course you are just not gonna feel the love. Some days I simply cannot draw, everything turns out wrong and I start to lose faith that I can do this at all. Those are the days you just have to give yourself a break. You've probably been working too hard and pushing yourself too much.
Be kind to yourself, take a break and do something you love and don't feel guilty! The ideas will come. Usually when you least expect them. And procrastination is good - I heard a TED talk recently that advocated procrastination as a way to ramp up your creativity. So don't feel bad, just capture those precious ah-ha moments when they come and do the magic part when you feel ready.
I'd love to know where you get your inspiration from, if you have any other ideas do leave them below.