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How to get inspired for art

As an artist, I’m sure you understand how inspiration is as fleeting and sporadic as the wind. As artists, we can go from complete windstorms of inspiration. I remember times when I've frantically ran to grab the nearest pen and paper to sketch down my ideas or have been woken up in the middle of the night with a complete eureka moment. I can also remember the opposite of this where my inspiration just sounds like radio silence.

And this radio silence is even more painful when we’re relying on our inspiration to bring a project to fruition or complete a deadline. So I’ve compiled my top 5 ways of how to stay inspired as an artist and thought this was a perfect topic to discuss as the year is coming to a close. Hopefully, this will help you to bring your inspiration forward into the new year.



1) Travel!


Traveling will always be my top source of inspiration. There’s nothing like the complete sense of peace and clarity being stood at the top of a mountain, surrounded by trees and greenery or floating in the sea and feeling complete liberation. I’ve also found that the amount I travel is directly proportional to the amount of art I produce that I'm proud of. 2022 has been the year I’ve traveled most in my life so far and it’s also the year that I have a stable stream of income from my creativity and a sense of direction as to where I want my future to head.


Traveling is also the best way to get reference photos and expand your visual library. Have you ever had an idea that requires a reference photo but can’t seem to find one that’s been taken at the perfect angle? If you travel and use the resources around you as your reference, you get to choose where to aim your camera. I’ve also found that creating artwork based on your own reference photos is a way to entwine your own experience into your piece. You can portray your own memories and feelings through your colour choices, angles, linework etc. Expand your visual library, take as many photos and make as many memories as possible!


If traveling isn’t an option, have you considered traveling deeper into the depths of your imagination? Have you considered shutting of from the rest of the world and entering into your own inner world?

This was definitely my favorite way to get inspired as an artist during lockdown. I also created some of my favorite pieces in this time which are whimsical, dreamy and in a way, inspired by my personal choice of escapism. The drawing below is one of my favourite pieces I completed during that period.




2) Art Books!


My love for art books began after watching Disney’s “Tangled” and discovering there was a whole book dedicated towards the artwork that was made before the film was produced. For the first time, I was reading about how they designed the characters and their inspirations and motivation behind them, how they designed the backgrounds and built the whole world behind one of my favourite Disney films. I became completely captivated by the work of Glen Keane and all of the other artists who contributed to the films. It was at that moment that I realised that I had to expand my collection of art books and continue to soak up inspiration from them.


These books also acted as a window into the art world and realising that art is a viable career path. For example, the Character Design Quarterly books are full of stories and practical perspectives from artists living in the working world and making a living from their work. This was definitely an eye opener when I was a teenager and began exploring art as a career path and as my full time source of income even though it seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream at the time. Art books could be a great source of inspiration for you as they portray the whole development and behind the scenes work of the whole film and show the thought process behind all of the artists.


3) People!


The way I get inspired through people is similar to the way I feel inspired through travel- people have so many unique stories within them. Have you ever fully observed a living thing, be it an animal, human or plant? The way it moves, the way it catches the light, the way they interact with other living things. I enjoy understanding things on a much deeper level and observing the whole story about a person or thing. Why do they talk and act the way they do and what events lead up to that moment? Why do they dress the way they do and what is their form of expression? People are fascinating.


Even if your creative outlet isn’t character driven, you can personify a person through an inanimate object. Let’s use a building as an example. The building and the way the artists chose to present it through the colours, shapes, line work and light could be a direct reflection of the way a person expresses themselves.


4) Other art forms!


Maybe you take great inspiration from other slightly different sources of creative expression as all forms of art are interlinked afterall. Have you ever felt completely moved by a movie and continue to think about it for months after the first time you watched it? This even applies to all genres of films, including horror! If horror films aren’t your go-to (they’re definitely not mine as my imagination is pretty overactive already), they still move the viewer. And that’s the thing about art, it doesn’t have to be beautiful but has a lasting effect on the viewer.


I get a lot of my artistic inspiration from the way that other artists use art as a form of expression. Music is one of the best ways that I can stay motivated as an artist. It allows the listener to completely be captivated and temporarily taken to another world. You can even chose to use music intentionally- I always listen to music as I’m creating for these reasons. It allows me to concentrate and completely absorb myself in the work. Have you ever tried to channel and bring your work to life by listening to the music that inspires and sets the scene? Maybe you can take a journey back in time by listening to music belonging to a certain era that will inspire your next piece.


5) Your own personal voice!


And finally, the last way I get inspired as an artist is by listening to my own personal voice. I view making art as something much more than just for my own personal gain. Your art can have an impact on something you deeply care about.

There have been multiple movements I’ve been following online for a while and found most of these through hashtags on instagram such as the Black Lives Matter movement. Maybe you’re moved and chose to participate in the feminist movement through your artwork.

And if you don’t have strong political views, how could you make the world a more beautiful place for us all through your artwork? If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? It’s an interesting topic of discussion and a great starting point if you wish to start brainstorming your next project.









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