Inspiration is the state of being truly alive and pouring that life into the world around you.
As an artist, you can wait for something to inspire you, or you can go chase it. In fact, this isn't just for artists- this is true for people everywhere. You can wait for inspiration to occasionally pass by or you can pursue it, learn about it, grow it.
There are cheap ways to get inspiration. New gear. Imitation. Fancy toys. Shiny objects. But these are exciting for a moment. Real inspiration comes from a deeper thirst for life, for authentic story, for truth.
Inspiration can come from one musical note, the stroke of a brush, a laugh, beer, light hitting objects in space, or even a word- because there is truth in each of those. It can be found in the company of friends or in the solitude of 3 am. But there are certain factors that really give you the best chance of finding and harnessing inspiration:
- Community: the more we are around other people who are pushing the creative boundaries in our field, the more we will learn and look within ourselves to find new stories and new angles. In community we can find friendship and critique, perspective and balance. I believe people are one of the greatest sources of influence, particularly if you surround yourself with positive, forward-thinking, grounded individuals and families.
- Control: some people get so wound up when they are inspired, they forget to eat, sleep and play the long game. They use up all of their creative energy in one spurt. This may result in a masterpiece but if you're called on to produce something of that caliber again, you're left waiting for inspiration to strike. Learn how to take in the inspiration and understand it, rather than just ride the wave. Look into why you're inspired in that moment, what do you want to do, and how can you do it again when you're not "feeling the urge" in a few days?
- Discipline: I'm not sure I believe the people who walk around inspired 24/7. That might be my own cynicism, but I think they must be faking it sometimes. For the rest of us, it takes routine and discipline. They say you're not a writer unless you're writing. So write. Same for filmmakers and photographers. Get out there and put something in front of your lens. If you're a dancer, then dance. Stretch your muscles and your mind. Feeling in a rut? Shoot something different. Go beyond your comfort zone but do it regularly, whether you feel like it or not. You will grow.
- Digest: don't use up the majority of your time by looking at the work other people are doing. The world needs your own vision and creativity. It's okay to find some wind for your sails in the work of other artists but limit the time you spend ogling images online. You'll be more tempted to imitate the work of others if you are constantly staring at them. This is why 90% of the photographers in the wedding industry have identical portfolios. It's just imitation and they're all following a few people who broke the mold first. The tide will change soon when a few more creatives shake it up and soon everyone will be following in their footsteps.
Inspiration is beauty breaking through into the bleakness of daily news and the grind. It's way beyond imitation. It's beyond a feeling. It's meant to show the people around you something beyond our own spectrum of imagination and emotion.
Inspiration is to be a light on a hill. No need to flicker on and off anymore. Let your hope, your spirit, your life reflect the one who made you. It's to be a beacon.
Don't wait for inspiration to strike, live inspired.