Lots of people ask artists and graphic designers all the time the following question: how do we do it? Where do we get our inspiration? The answer is, and I think I speak for a lot of artists here: anywhere. Really: we can get inspiration from anywhere.
I try to keep my visual vocabulary really sharp and I basically work on honing my eye as much as possible. It’s one of the reasons I spend a lot of time on Pinterest or Instagram (or at least that’s what I tell myself). You have to make sure that you’re constantly being exposed to new images and new pieces of visual data, or you’re just going to have a hard time when it comes to actually being able to come up with anything of your own.
The thing about inspiration is that it often seems to come from nowhere at all. It actually doesn’t, though. It happens subtly and it partly happens because of the visual vocabulary of the person in question. You have to really wait for it to strike in some cases. Once you do, you might wonder how it even happened for you or what you’re going to need to do in order to make it happen again.
It’s all about setting everything up in order to make sure that something is at least likely to happen again. You don’t know when anything of that nature is going to strike, but you can be sure that it isn’t going to strike if you’re limiting yourself to a fairly narrow window of visual information.
Ever noticed how almost everything in the 1970’s science fiction and fantasy worlds looks kind of the same? And the same goes for the fantasy of the 1990’s or the 2000’s? It’s because the people in all of their respective eras were paying attention to the visual palates of their days. They were being inspired by all of the visual information all around them that existed at that time. They took their cues from the movies, the art, and the television of their time. Many of them would probably have been better off trying to study the images from all different time periods and all different cultures in order to create a really unique visual style.
I’ve always tried to make sure that I’m familiar with the art and the art history that you’ll find in a lot of different cultures and that has existed in a lot of different times. Sure, I want to just be more knowledgeable and more cosmopolitan in general. The thing is, I actually do believe that it’s made me a better artist. I can’t judge the quality of my own work. However, I can at least compare it to what it would probably be if I had a slightly different level of experience, and I think that my philosophy of making sure that I have a wide range of influences really does make all the difference.
No one is truly original when it comes to artwork or to inspiration, and that should be clear to anyone who has really tried it. They’re going to be influenced by other people and other artists, and that’s just the way that it is. You can try to put your own spin on things, and that’s all anyone can do in this world. I really recommend that people try to give themselves as many influences to draw on as possible, and that’s what’s going to stop you from being the sort of person who seems to draw the same thing over and over again without a lot of variation. People like that are staying in their own little bubble, and you really can branch out of it.