Working as a Freelance Illustrator is awesome. It's an exciting, varied, creative job, where you have the freedom to work on your own schedule and be creative.
It's also the biggest challenge of my life. Amongst many of the obstacles is the constant fight to stay creatively inspired. Working alone and from my home studio, I've needed to come up with my own ways to stay inspired & motivated so that I can continue creating the work I want to make.
The 'lightbulb' moment is the ultimate goal. You are hit with a rush of inspiration, you act on it, then create the best work you've ever created. These days are the best. However from my experience the 'lightbulb moment' is few and far between. Inspiration usually takes time, effort and dedication. I find the best way to stay consistently inspired is through opening your mind to new things, seeking them out & gaining ideas in return.
There are lots of ways that you can stay inspired, in this post I'll be sharing my favourite ways, all of which I use myself on a weekly, or even daily basis. I am in no way a constantly inspired, creative ball of energy, I still have days where the blank page in my sketchbook scares the hell out of me, but I find that I can usually get out of the creative block by trying out one of the following.
You know that cool book that you bought a year ago that has not left the shelf since that moment of madness/inspiration that make you buy it in the first place? Thats the one. Find the time and pick it up. I am the biggest sucker for an inspirational book, but really have to push myself to find the time and actually read it. As a slow reader (I have dyslexia) I can find it pretty intimidating to start a book. But I have never regretted the time spent reading books. Sometimes just flicking through and looking at the pictures is actually the perfect pick-me-up.
You don't even need to spend money on this one if you don't want to! Check out the Art/Design/Craft section of your favourite bookshop, or venture into your local library, it may seem old fashioned, but its a perfect way to flick through books for free!
Check out my Top 5 Creative books here!
Setting the right mood for creative inspiration is very important, what you listen to when you are creating can drastically change how you feel. Spotify is now my best friend, you can find playlists based on your mood, or create your own from your favourite artists. It's good to keep it varied though and podcasts & audiobooks are great for mixing it up. Get recommendations from your friends or family and try some out!
I'll soon be writing a Top 5 Creative Podcasts blog post on here so keep an eye out for that too!
3. Creative Blogs
This ones a bit of a no-brainer! Creative blogs can be a great source of inspiration and there are so many good ones! Some of my faves are CreativeBloq, Creative Review, It's Nice That & Creative Boom. A cup of coffee & a quick read through blog posts is such a nice way to start the day! It's also a perfect way to keep up to date on current trends & news within the area of creativity you are interested in.
4. Art Galleries/Museums
This one takes time, but can be a game changer. Whether modern art or ancient artefacts are your thing, museums & galleries are an immersive & inspirational experience. To get the most out of your visit take a sketchbook or notebook and some drawing materials and jot down/sketch while you are walking around. The free exhibits are great, but sometimes the temporary exhibitions can be well worth the money, its also good to have a little day trip out & venture to a different city to really mix it up & get inspired.
5. Everyday Creativity
There are a few things you can do in 'everyday life' that can help you to feel creative. Getting creative with your office/studio space is a good way of feeling inspired. Surround yourself with objects that you love, and mix it up occasionally to keep it feeling fresh.
Find & wear the clothes that make you feel happy. I always find this such a good pick-me-up when I'm feeling uninspired. Wear your favourite loud rainbow-stripe jumper, or those 5-year-old horrible but extremely comfy slippers - we won't judge. I love cooking and I find trying out new recipes & adapting old recipes fun. Try to think of ways that you can get creative doing something you enjoy in your everyday life.
6. Talk To People
As an introvert, this one is tricky. I work alone from my home-studio, which day-to-day is my idea of heaven. However, it can get pretty suffocating. Getting out and about helps, but sharing your ideas with other humans can be totally freeing. Finding that friend who understands your creativity is brilliant. However if you don't have that person in your life yet, then reaching out to fellow creatives via social media is now easier than ever. The nice thing about Creatives is that they are great supporting each other & giving advice, because every creative person experiences lack of inspiration at some point!
Pinterest is a great source of visual inspiration. Its basically a digital pin-board where you can scroll through images and compile them into your own 'boards'. Pretty much whenever I start a project I like to create a project inspiration board which I can add to and adapt throughout the project, as well as referring back for a hit of visual inspiration.
The old-fashioned version of the above! There is still something really nice about having a physical pin-board in your creative space. I personally have one on the wall next to my desk and I am constantly searching for inspirational material to add to it. The process of collecting inspirational images and assembling them onto your board is a lot of fun too.
Journalling is the only thing on this list which I havn't tried yet! I will definately be trying this in 2018! Journalling is a creative way of using a mixture of sketches and words to process your thoughts & ideas. Reflecting back on your journal can be helpful and inspiring. Search 'Bullet Journal' on Pinterest for some ideas of how to do this one!
9. Creative Talks/Events/Workshops
Keep an eye out for upcoming creative events as these can be such a boost of inspiration. I search Eventbrite regularly to find events in my local area. They are often free (LOVE a freebie!) and can be a great way to meet fellow Creatives. Its also good to follow galleries/creative spaces on twitter to get the latest updates on upcoming events.
10. Craft Fairs/Creative Shops
As a Freelance Illustrator I create work which is in my own visual language, however I also try to keep it relevant to current trends & styles. I've found that to keep up to date with these current trends and to stay inspired by them requires a bit of work! Aside from using Social Media platforms (especially Instagram) to see what it 'Trendy' (that word urgh.) I also like to go out into the 'real world'. Craft fairs are great because you get to see whats new, while also helping to support small businesses, and meeting other creatives. As someone who has an Etsy shop selling cards I also like to go into my favourite card shops and see what the latest trends are.
I do feel the need to mention that this is about finding trends, not copying other people designs! Copy-Cats are not cool. Let the process of seeing other people's work inspire you to create your best work in your own style.
How do you stay creatively inspired? I'd love to hear in the comments!