In school, we’re all taught the basics of how to be creative. What to do, how to do it, what not to do, what’s been done before… but what they don’t teach us is how to ignite that spark of inspiration that lights a fire within us.
Artists, content creators, business owners and entrepreneurs alike can all agree that behind every great idea, artwork or project, is first finding the flicker of inspiration that drives them to create.
While the likes of Pinterest, Tumblr and of course Instagram are all easy, accessible and super popular sources of inspo, sometimes when it comes to finding your own creative path, it can pay to take the road less-travelled.
Whether you’re in a creative block, lost for inspo or simply wanting to get those creative juices flowin’, here are some places to find inspiration where no one else is looking…
Where to look: friends, family, people on the street, colleagues, other creatives.
“My main inspiration is PEOPLE. I need people to keep me inspired and I love them for their willingness to let me into their lives. As the people who I’ve photographed will tell you, I get all giddy when I find the right location for the right person… there’s a lot of squealing involved!
I also follow lots of other photographers and people who I could only dream about shooting. They always inspire me to create!” Phoebe Veldhuizen, photographer @bratwuurst.
“I find a lot of inspiration from watching old men on the street – I love when they get to a point where they are dressing completely for themselves and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks.” Chloe Hill, stylist at @coolprettycool.
Where to look: old movies, books, places, song lyrics, art galleries, journals, op shops.
“I draw a lot of inspiration from cinema and films, and I try to watch something new each week. Maybe it’s the narrative or the way people seem so mysterious, but anything pre-1990s is a big yes.” Phoebe Veldhuizen, photographer @bratwuurst.
“Where do I find inspiration? Art galleries! Books! Artists from history! My friends! My experiences! Taking a break sometimes! Not feeling the pressure to be constantly productive!” @frances_cannon, artist.
“I find a lot of inspiration just through reading. I love to read and be inspired by other authors, it’s kind of like food for the soul.” Jess Holsman, founder of @studywithjess.
“It might seem weird, but I read studies – as in journal studies. SO many ideas and inspiration come from that.” Anita Siek, founder of @wordfetti.
Where to look: nature, animals, the sky, houses, outer space, overheard conversations.
“I get a lot of my inspiration from NASA and the photos they post. The textures of planets, the colours of planets and the diverse landscapes they have – that sort of inspiration is out of this world.” Jenna Hutchison, @loveludie.
“I’m inspired by anything and everything! Sometimes I visualise my thought processes, sometimes I’m inspired by small things like clouds and trees. I’m very much influenced by my surroundings.
I don’t often have creative blocks, but when I do having a break can help me get back into the flow of things. I like taking time out from things so I can appreciate it even more when I jump back in.” @rowisingh, makeup artist & content creator.
Where to look: outside your comfort zone, social movements, trying something different, doing something that scares you.
“I’ve been drawing my whole life. Developing my drawing style has come gradually over years and years and years of drawing, and it will keep growing and evolving! Staying the same is boring, and the key to growth is change.” @frances_cannon, artist.
“One of the hardest things about being an artist in the public eye is thinking that you always need to be creating. That was the hardest thing for me to get over – accepting the ebb and flow of my own creativity and working when it’s best for me.
My content will always align with my own views on the world surrounding us. As the social climate changes, so will my work. I hope to encourage people to not just stick to the status quo. Question more often, rebel more and stand out from the crowd.” Phoebe Veldhuizen, photographer @bratwuurst.
Get back to basics
Where to look: light, shadow, experimentation, crafts, mood boarding, street art, posters.
“There is so much value in trial and error. I knew from the start that I wanted to do things differently – I find it so much more creatively compelling to carve out my own style through experimentation, than to constantly look at others’ work or watch some YouTube tutorial.
I try to not spend a lot of time looking at what every one else is doing. Everyone has access to the same products, it’s just about how you use them – and using them how they’re not meant to be used.” Jenna Hutchison, @loveludie.
“When I’m in the exploratory flow of a new project, I’ll stay off the tools for as long as I can, and instead be super observant of everything around me. I’m a sucker for flicking through magazines or just staring aimlessly on the train playing with ideas in my head.
“I’m always snapping pics of art, signage, rock posters, or anything interesting I see on the streets for the day it might spark an idea.”
I think to be really original you need to filter out the noise – never look in the category you’re creating for, ctrl + alt + delete what you’re being fed as inspo and look the other way. Then, once I’ve got a starting point, I’ll head straight for the paper and sharpies!” Sophie Dunn, brand designer at @go.milkshake.
Give yourself a break
How: Go easy on yourself, turn off your phone, enjoy simple pleasures, make more space, be still.
“In order to be inspired you have to let your mind rest. Being online and being an entrepreneur, your personal life and your work life are basically the same thing. There is no separation between the two unless you’re really consciously trying to make that happen.
“Creating time for where you can’t be on your phone, you can’t check your emails, you can’t check social media, allowing your brain to unwind and recharge is crucial for feeling more inspired and energised.”
You know when people have those a-ha moments or shower thoughts? It’s because there’s no other distractions. Your mind is calm, you’re feeling the sensations of the warm water, and hearing the sound of the water running. The more activities you can do where you can just be more still and calm, the more opportunities you’re creating for those brilliant ideas. Washing the dishes, having a long bath, going for a walk, doing pottery… All of those things are a way of creating space for more inspiration to flood into.” Jess Holsman, founder of @studywithjess