“Trust thyself: Every heart vibrates to that iron string.” — Emerson // Self Reliance
The creative process is elusive. As a creative, it’s easy to consume more than I create in the name of “looking for inspiration.” Really, though, it’s just an easy way out of doing the hard work, every single day, of honing my craft. I remember when “looking for inspiration” meant planning a trip to the MET, or carting a stack of 10 heavy books home from Powell’s Books. I was able to do that once or twice a year. And those two trips had to last me for the next 12 months of visual inspiration. There was a time investment on my part, and I couldn’t do it at every spare moment of my day. Like while I’m waiting for the BART, or sitting on the BART. Or squeezing in an extra link while I wait for Yoga class to begin.
But now, looking for inspiration can too easily take the form of wandering the endless streets and alleys of Pinterest and Instagram. There’s no “back cover”; no sense of finality to the Internet like there is for a journal or a book. It’s just too easy to browse link after link and end up nowhere new or distinct in my own creative process. Besides, for some reason, my brain always feels fried when I go on a social media binge. It’s because, I realized, consuming just isn’t the same as learning and doing.
But don’t get me wrong. I’m no grump when it comes to Social Media. I love it. The communities and friends I’ve discovered are genuinely life-giving. But I’ve also realized that it’s important to intentionally pursue other sources for inspiration. And to limit the amount of time I dedicate to inspiration. Because setting time aside to create is itself an inspirational act. It’s an act of faith that when I pick up the camera or the Wacom pen, something beautiful will come out on the other side.
A few weeks ago I went to Half-Price Books in Austin and picked up some design books. Then I went to the craft store and picked up five bottles of paint, a paintbrush, and several sheets of watercolor paper. I came home, put away my phone, and read design books for the rest of the afternoon. And then I started to paint backgrounds for my new “traveling studio” for my time in San Francisco. The result? I felt more inspired, more giddy, more butterflies in that one afternoon than I ever would have just looking at the endless streams of images on the Internet. I felt recharged and excited again about my burgeoning love of design and the traveling studio I’d created.
And thanks to all of you out there blogging & Instagramming. You really are an important source of inspiration. And this little blog of mine would never exist without your constant reminder that creating something beautiful is a worthy act of faith in something larger than ourselves.
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