Why not start at the beginning then… Are you sitting comfortably? Then I will begin…
I have read a number of interviews with artists who are invariably asked how and when they get their ideas. It is quite a tricky question to answer as many working artists have been thinking, making and working in their own way for so long it becomes almost an unconscious process… much as riding a bike or driving a car. However, on those (hopefully rare) occasions when ideas seem to dry up and inspiration has packed its bags, that’s when you suddenly have to question the ideas process… where does inspiration come from?
Generally speaking my ideas are connected to the people I have around me, friends and family, sometimes a fictional character from a book or someone who catches my eye in the street. I like to create a design based around that person, their interests and delights, the colours they prefer, how they dress, the things they say… all of these little things can spark an idea which can then grow and develop into an independent design.
Getting the idea down on paper… Drawing is where my ideas become designs as my style of drawing will inform the development of the idea. It’s no good me trying to draw a design already perfectly formed in my head. That only leads to disappointment and frustration. Letting the design develop naturally following the lines my pen makes on the page, then redrawing and over drawing until it feels right. Sometimes I find a design just isn’t coming together… and then I have to leave it. File it away, sometimes for a week, sometimes it languishes for months before I dig it out and have a fresh look at it. I start working on it again and invariably, eventually I will make the right mark or move something around and it will suddenly be right, and ready to be turned into a print!
Here are some tips on how to get those ideas flowing:
1. I think this is the most important one. Make sure you get some quiet time alone to think. It needn't be a Tuscan holiday, although I am sure that would help... Fifteen minutes while you are washing up or brushing your teeth might do the trick. Clear your mind of the old ‘to do’ list and just think about what interests you… Try not to worry if no images come yet, just let your mind wander and see where it goes.
3. Surround yourself with images and colours and patterns… Anything that catches your eye or interests you. A scrapbook is great, as are online resources like Pinterest or good old Google images… However, I think a pin board or postcards pinned to your wall, or in frames, are much more effective as these images are around you and visible all the time. Make groupings of patterns or colours that work for you and frame or pin them together. Hang or place them wherever you'll be likely to glace from your desk when your mind wanders and your open for inspiration.
5. As I said I often use people I know as a starting point for a design. However other inspiration comes from quotes. I find these online or in books. I tend to search for someone I know I like and see where the search takes me following links and words until something resonates. Other places to look might be a favourite book, or eavesdropping in cafes or at the bus stop. Just try not to get caught out!