What To Do With Inspiration When You Find It

Time to follow up on my original post about finding inspiration for quilting projects. My brain is fairly unreliable, I like to think that it's too full of thoughts, and if I don't do something to capture that fleeting bit of inspiration it will likely fade from my mind.

I'm sure there as many ways to record your inspiration as there are creative people. Here's what I use and it's a hodge podge for the most part.

First, there's the old-school method, which is whipping out my sketch book, note pad or scrap of paper and doing a rough sketch and I usually take a few notes too to help interpret the sketch and to jog my memory so I can recall a mental image. I prefer this method for originality as my rough sketch will usually not capture specifics of something else I have seen even if it is work by someone else. This leaves me open to make my own piece. I am often inspired by music or a verse of scripture and this is the method I use to capture those ideas. I also use my big dry-erase board for this.

Second, before the internet got to be so huge, I might find inspiration on a page of a magazine and I would cut it out and pit it into a binder. I must admit that the binder rarely got looked at and have largely given it up for digital methods.

Third, and the first of the more modern and largely digital methods is using a camera. I try to keep it handy, but if you've got a camera in your phone, that can be even handier. You never know when a fabric, graphic design on stationary and stuff, artwork, sunset, plant, whatever might catch your eye!

Then there's the Internet....

This is when you can fall into a deep pit of time sucking inspiration that will keep you from actually making anything  inspired! I sometimes have to resort to a timer! I feel like the internet has the biggest potential for inspiring unoriginal works. Not only are there fabulous things people may outright copy, but after seeing so many images, it's hard to know if you're having an original thought.

The main site for this is Pinterest, but there is also Instagram and Flickr and many others I am unfamiliar with. And there are social media sites like Facebook and artist and gallery sites, not to mention blogs.

Once you've found all this inspiration, captured it, digital or otherwise, you've got to "curate" it (to use the new annoying buzzword) so that you can find it when you need it. If you collect a bunch of inspirational stuff and do nothing with it leads to clutter.

First of all, make sure you are doing something with all those photos! Don't let them vanish in a computer crash. Note to self, back up picture files soon. And try to review your sketch books regularly.

Though some artists are up in arms over Pinterest, I use it. You can see my boards at Amyquilts which includes Quilty Inspiration and Quilting Designs, Inspiring Lines. If I post my own work which I am worried someone might snag and copy, I watermark it first before pinning. I also utilize the 'secret boards' for gift shopping and special projects.

I also use Evernote since I also write notes to myself about projects I want to do. Since my main idea is in my head, the sketch book and written notes are my main way I develop the project further and is more likely to lead to unique projects. Evernote gives me a digital method for my notes and I can also store visual data there.

But the biggest factor in whether you actually use the inspiration you've found is to either act on that idea with passion right away or review those ideas and inspirational pics regularly.

What about you? Do you have a method to curate your inspiration? Won't you share with us in the comments?

Edited to add: I was asked in the comments about how to watermark your own photos, so I did a brief tutorial at Watermarking Images.


  1. Amy,
    How do you watermark your images? Thank you for all your helpful tips!

  2. I didn't know you could do this for your own images. How do you watermark before posting? Thanks for all your suggestions.

    1. I did a follow up post on watermarking images here: http://freemotionquiltingadventures.blogspot.com/2013/08/watermarking-images.html

  3. Awesome thoughts! The interwebs can certainly be a time sink. Fortunately for me, I look at a screen pretty much all day at work so I'm pretty ready to get away from it in the evenings!

    I keep a "medium" black book. Anything I think I might be interested in actually doing something with I will doodle out, tape in sources images, write names of other artists that have done something similar and keep notes on things like fabric name, paint color, etc. I never know when I'll be struck so I keep the book with me nearly all the time.

  4. You all are quite welcome. Looks like I should do a post on watermarking photos! Thanks for asking.

  5. Nice to see you here! Thanks for sharing this useful information in this post, I really appreciate it! But, I am really surprised to say that I have enjoyed my time speaking to Mrs Maria Freeman has been so useful. She takes time to listen to my concerns and provides me some help, and support when I needed it. I am slowly becoming myself again with this agency (you can read therapist text wright here). Thanks from the bottom of my heart for everything good, that you've made for me.

  6. Demystify the process of communicating creative visions with our blog post on crafting a creative brief. Learn the key components and best practices for creating a comprehensive https://blog.depositphotos.com/creative-brief.html brief that guides designers and collaborators. Whether you're a project manager or a creative professional, discover how a well-crafted creative brief can streamline the creative process and lead to successful outcomes.