Finding and Using Inspiration

Where do you find inspiration for your quilting or artistic creations? If you're like me, inspiration comes from many different places:

From nature:

From architecture and art:

From the artwork and storylines in some of my kids' books,

From fabric and other sources of graphic designs like journal covers, scrap book paper, etc.

I can find inspiration from other textiles, including quilts, but I try to avoid taking design inspiration solely from quilts.

The picture below is the shirt of a friend while she is wearing it! I am known to pull out a camera or sketch pad when I see an inspiring design on somebody.

There's a fine line between inspiration and duplication.

That's where the internet can be a blessing and a curse. It's said there's nothing new under the sun and that everything is inspired by something else, but to copy or to create solely by pulling parts from the work of others without adding your own unique art and talent to it is wrong. Derivative is the term.

With so much to see online, the possibility of even coming up with an original idea is even harder. To pass off the design of someone else as your own is crooked. To accidentally create something that is seen as a rip off of someone else's work is unfortunate. To be afraid to create something because you're not sure it's your own idea because you've seen so much inspiration elsewhere is tragic.

Sometimes I need to limit the inspiration I see on the internet to make sure an idea is my own. A few concepts I get for a project are so complete in my head visually, that I'm afraid I've seen it somewhere else.

Below are fabrics I've bought after being inspired from colors in the striped batiks.

Copyright issues are a big deal in the creative world. So is the artist's or craft person's need to find inspiration and act on it. Some wonderfully creative people never venture out to create their own work, preferring to enjoy the process and their own skills in following someone else's (purchased or free to use) pattern.

So how do we utilize to work of others to find true inspiration?

The number one issue: Do not copy! And there's a wrong assumption that if one changes at least 10% of a design, it's now your own work. Wrong.

Pulling ideas from nature is always a good start. But if it's a popular subject, like a sunflower, it can be very similar to another's sunflower. Like I said before, it's a tricky thing. Pulling ideas from other media or artworks different from your own is helpful too. It's my opinion that creative ideas spawned from non-quilt sources allow more room to adapt the idea and make the concept your own.

Keeping track of what inspires us is a good way to take an idea and ruminate on it a while, allowing the idea to evolve and develop into our own unique vision. You can use an idea board, sketch books, photos, or digital methods like Evernote or Pinterest.

I think I'll be continuing with at least one more post on finding and using creative inspiration, so if you've got some thoughts, questions, or advice on finding inspiration for your creative projects, speak up in the comments of this post.

Edited to add: I did a follow up to this post called What to Do With  Inspiration Once You Find It and also a basic tutorial on watermarking your own images.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the words of wisdom!

    I find inspiration in everything. Literally everything. Sometimes, I've even been inspired by a boring old tech document! The world is an amazing place if you just open your eyes and look!

    ~Susan @