As a freelancer in the beautiful realm of photography, I am often hired to create artwork for people, companies and brands whom I’m unfamiliar with; whose paths have never crossed mine, whose vision may be different to my own. One thing I have found to be valuable in my daily creative process, especially when working for people other than myself, is to learn about the ways that we, as artists, best stay inspired. The craziness of every day life can become so weighing on our life-giving and imaginative minds and far too often we find ourselves in “creatives slumps”. The day I began to learn the philosophy of inspiration and how I can best stay inspired, was a day I became a more productive and fulfilled business person, artist and human. It changed my whole world. Because I felt control over the single element of my creation that for so long, was controlling me. I learnt that positive and constructive inspiration was purely finding a balance between three things: feeling inspired, being motivated and having skill. Simple.Each thing I do in my day to day life to find my midpoint is a combination of activities and exercises that stretch my skill, test my motivation and apply my inspiration. Each of those elements can not be effective without balance of the other. Here are some practical steps in this process that I learnt:
- Inspiration comes from a place of rest. Spend time each day, even if its 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or on your daily commute to work or school, doing something that gets you in your happy place. Whether that is listening to music, reading a book, staring out the window observing the world around you. Do nothing but that for some time. It may sound boring and so simple, but funnily enough, I never took the time out of my day to make this a priority. Taking a small amount of time each day to relax gives your mind a chance to recuperate and helps you brainstorm ways you may want to put your inspiration in to practice.
- Inspiration comes from a place of reflection. Each week, I try and write down the top 10 things I would like to achieve in that week. These include relationship goals, creative goals, business goals and interpersonal goals. Having goals give me direction, and helps me to feel inspired to do my best; I feel more confident in what I am doing, who I am, and can take the necessary steps to create better.
- Document anything that gives you slightest bit of inspiration. Some days I am in the car driving and a song comes on the radio and I feel empowered, so I make sure to take note. Often when I am shopping, I might see a beautiful dress in a vintage store, and I have to stop and photograph it because it’s amazing enough to spark inspiration in me. On those days when you feel like you would rather stay in bed and sleep all day, reading over all of these wonderful notes, listening to those songs, looking at those photographs, will get you inspired enough to jump right out of bed.
- Don’t take things to seriously and just have fun. This is a big one. Maybe your expectations of yourself are too high. A big thing I have learnt in my career with inspiration is that you can never truly be uninspired. Often times we are too hard on ourselves because we know that we have to do something a certain way and this scares us. Have fun, go and draw something on your wall, take a photo that no one will ever see, write a song, make up a dance. Stop creating limitations in your mind about what you need to do, because that thought will be the destruction of your balance.
- Stop searching for inspiration. Let it find you. Book yourself a weekend away on your own and shut off your phone. Bring nothing but you and your medium of creation. I used to drive down the coast to stay at a relatives caravan where there was no phone reception, and it would force me to experiment with the craziest ways to create, ultimately teaching me things I would have never otherwise known.
- Broaden your horizons. Read a book in a genre you wouldn’t usually ever consider, listen to a different artist’s album, read poetry, call an old friend, don’t pick the same meal at a restaurant. These examples probably won’t bring you any inspiration at all, but they will change your attitude. As humans, we so often get caught in comfort zones that we are unable to pick ourselves out of without a bit of force. Once we do something a little bit uncomfortable, we are able to try new things, which is the easiest way to find new ways to be inspired.
- Never compare yourself to others. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “Comparison is the thief of joy” and she was a very wise lady. If you continually look at other people who you aspire to be, comparing yourself to them, you will never be the best version of you. You were never intended to be that person. When I first started out as a photographer, I was obsessed with looking at other peoples work on a daily basis and started feeling so discouraged with what I was creating because I didn’t think it was half as wonderful as what they were doing. So I disconnected and stopped looking at others peoples work. I found my confidence began to flourish. I began to grow into my own skin.
- Change your surroundings. Rearrange your bedroom, dye your hair, paint your nails, clean your computer desktop, rearrange the apps on your phone, buy yourself a new wallet. Little parts of our daily routine that we never think about become a part of who we are. Once we shock ourselves by changing, we find ourselves thinking more intentionally about the decisions we make. Exercising your mind with small tasks will not only keep your mind healthy, but will keep you interested in the monotonous tasks of daily life.
- Revisit happy times. If you remember a time when you felt on top of the world, revisit it. Create some art or listen to music that reminds you of that time. Reminisce and look through photos, talk to someone who you shared those times with. Sometimes, you can get yourself back to the balance just by revisiting old memories.
- 10. Don’t let fear rule your life. As soon as you remove anxieties from your life, you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders. Life becomes much more free and inspiration will flow easier to an opened heart than one filled with fear. The greatest thing about inspiration, is that you are in control of how much of it you want. Inspiration is not a destination or something you can acquire, it is a compilation of daily decisions and ideas to strive to become a better artist. Once you realise that, you’ll always know how to unlock your potential and ‘stay inspired’.
Article and Images by Kiara Rose