The Waves of Inspiration
by ao – Aug. 2019
Pre-Game: One of my goals with the work I do is being able to give a bit of insight of this artist’s experience(s) to those wanting to enter or re-enter the field. For me, it’s aljways a huge pleasure to discuss and share. So I just wanted to drop a couple words to the few that read our articles. So with like any advise from someone who you do not know personally or who is not a proven veteran to the game (yet), take the advise or info with a grain of salt and use only what you think will be useful in your path to success. ao
Many have mentioned to me that they wish they were inspired to paint like I do. They tell me that they use to paint when they were younger or attempted to paint and enter art business years back, quit, and never got back into it. Some also tell me that they just can’t find the inspiration inside themselves like they did in the past.
Many also tell me, and I am so grateful for all these compliments, that they are extremely impressed by the amount of work they see me produce, exhibit, and post on social media (shameless plugs FB: facebook.com/AOART5 , instagram.com/aoart5, and Twitter Twitter.com/aoart5), and so they assume I am inspired left and right, all day and everyday. Do not get me wrong, inspiration plays a huge part in what I do, but as much as I wish I could say that it runs through my veins like that radioactive blood that runs through Spiderman’s veins – I can’t, because it is not like that at all.
For the record, my biggest wave of “inspiration”, especially from where and how I grew up, in all honesty, it is that I don’t want to be poor or broke. When you’re an artist AND a parent, having an income is a very important reality in your world. And since I can’t shake this desire to paint, design, and create (and believe me, I’ve tried to quit multiple times), I decided to jump on a wave of “inspiration” a few years back. I just wanted to see where it would take me creatively and financially. (Please note, I wrote creatively first). And so I have been fortunate enough to keep a 9 to 5 while establishing myself as a freelance designer/artist working on lunch breaks, in the evenings and weekends (like many creatives) and so far it’s been a really tough, cool and rewarding ride.
With that said, creating via inspiration comes in waves. Now I do not know how to surf, and hope one day to learn (hopefully in Hawaii or San Diego), and if and when any type of “inspiration wave” does happen to strike me, it’s not like its a major euphoric, out of body experience.
Inspiration starts as a small feeling. It is a small feeling of “what if…”, or “how about…”, or “let’s try…”, or even “I got it!” – then I act on it. I either start making notes, sketching something, get on the lap top or get in to the studio and open up some paint tubes. No matter what – some level of action has to be taken.
With that said, for my creative self, I have learned that like ocean waves these feelings of inspiration vary in when they happen, size, shape and form.
…as much as I wish I could say that it runs through my veins like that radioactive blood that runs through Spiderman’s veins – I can’t, because it is not like that at all..
With my projects, I have to admit that I am not extremely inspired each and every moment I work on them. Don’t get me wrong, I can admit that I am highly stoked at the beginning, and at the end of the project – and experience high and low points during the middle of the production process. And of course throughout the project, I am still doing my best to press forward and knock out a great project.
And like any project, there are ups and downs, and like everyone else, you just work your way through them, find the positives, and keep in mind your goal of producing a high level piece of work.
Inspiration is not like a light switch – I can’t just flip a switch inside me and it lights me up like Tony Stark’s arc reator – believe me, I really wish I could.
Having the good fortune to have worked in and around a variety of creative industries throughout the years, either full-time, part-time, freelance and on personal projects, and working on those project alone and/or with a team, I have learned that no matter what area of creativity I am involved in, inspiration peeks it’s head always at the right time. I never say it shows up at the wrong time – because it pops in on its own time, it has no schedule and I have no control over it. Also, in my work and with my schedule it is always, always the right time, and always welcome.
Now in my many years on this planet, and with all the mistakes I have made in my life and with my art career, I have been lucky enough to be involved in a multiple number the worlds – design, marketing, graphic design, web, coding, comic books and writing to name a few, and each of these fields have always taught me something.
One thing I’ve learned is that when you work for a corporation, and organization or a demanding client, you have to be “inspired” really fast and often to do the project. Its kinda like a “forced inspiration”, you might say. Forced inspiration to me is also a form of inspiration. It is not my top choice of inspiration type, but it can get the engine moving. It is like that “inspiration” your mother gives you when bedroom is not clean and it should have been cleaned yesterday – you know, “forced inspiration”.
My commission or personal projects are always inspired by either the project itself, the client or something else. Now sometimes the “something else” is due to an attempt to provoke it (inspiration). If inspiration does not come fast enough, for me, I attempt to find or provoke it because I want it to show a glimpse of itself to me – in some way, shape or form.
Now when I seek to provoke it, I mean that I take a step back from the project. I walk down the hall (if at work), take a drive, have a bite to eat, take a shower (not at work and this is lower on my list), brush my teeth, or change the radio station – to name a few. Sometimes it can be a combination the fore mentioned. What I am trying to say, I just try to mix it up and get a bit of energy flowing from somewhere else. I even, depending on time, will go to the library, jump on the net, grab a couple comic books, check out a couple design books or even ask the opinion from someone not connected to my work world at all.
What I have also learned is that inspiration will come – eventually. And when it does, it comes with a “boom”, or with a “BOOM”!!! Sometimes softly, sometimes like a Hulk punch – just be ready for it – and use it.
But the most important thing I have learned about inspiration is that for a project to be successful, inspiration does not work alone.
To me inspiration will never be the core of good work or consistent work. For me, inspiration works hand-in-hand with desire, determination and perseverance (grit).
Inspiration works with a clear desire to start, work and finish a project with the understanding that there will be speed bumps – but grit will get you over those speed bumps to the finish line.
For me, inspiration works hand-in-hand with desire and (grit) perseverance.
Life is tough at times and as a creative, we seek to put out our best work – and some hope to make every piece perfect. And good luck with that – And as creatives, we should always shoot for perfection, just to see how close we can get to it. (Perfection is another blog post topic for a later date.)
Never the less, inspiration, whether it comes out of the blue or if we attempt to provoke it, it pushes us to be better – not perfect, but better.
It is like one of my favorite singers Eddie Vedder once said, “You can’t be the perfect father. You can’t be the perfect singer.” With that, I may never be a perfect painter, designer, artist or dad for that matter, but I do believe that as designers, artists, creators, whatever, that we can only be as good as we can – by using the inspiration wave to push us to our goals, and by putting in the time and work – they come hand and hand.
Again, I have never surfed in the ocean, but when you as an artist or creative feel the wave of inspiration rising, jump on and ride that sucker as long as you can – its a really cool feeling – and for me, I know that as long as I keep creating there will always be another heading my way soon.
Keep grinding – Keep creating,
Thanks for reading,