I've been asked many times where I get my inspiration. What triggers it, what are you smokin', or how can I become more inspired?
Well, here's the short answer (before I go into hyper drive with my random nonsense). I just open my eyes and have a look around. I guarantee that all the inspiration you'll ever need is right there in front of you, no matter where you live on this vast planet of craziness and interesting things. To make a long story short, YOU are the inspiration... not a particular person, a place, or thing.
If you have a few minutes to waste I'll tell you a little about me and my thought processes. First of all, I absolutely love where I live and how I grew up. Being from a small, very rural town in central Appalachia (and when I say very, I mean very rural!), I understand that inspiration certainly comes with its share of challenges, as it pertains to massive quantities of people (the lack thereof), subways, art museums, and skyscrapers... if that's what you deem as inspirational. Luckily, I don't think inspiration comes from any particular place or thing. It's more about circumstance and making the best of any situation work for your own experiences.
And if I had to rely on copious amounts of people, or subway rides, to fulfill an inspirational idea, I'd most likely die waiting for some magic moment to happen that most likely never will.
For instance, there are days that I go to my local coffee shop to draw and I can almost guarantee, with the utmost certainty, that I'll see the same fifteen people I saw the day and weeks before and know exactly where they sit. The exact chair they sit in, what they're doing, what they're reading, and what they're listening to while they're interacting with some small talk with the person sitting next to them. And you know what, that's perfectly fine, I'll take whatever I can get.
And sure, I'd love nothing more than to live in San Francisco, where on any given day, I would more than likely not see the same person twice. And yes, more often than not, I do crave such places. But fear not, that's not always where inspiration comes from, folks. It's everywhere, in all things. It's up to you to make inspirational things happen.
Although, I do often dream of hanging out with Jeremy Wade (that cool cat from the TV show, River Monsters) and spending weeks at a time exploring regions of the planet (and fishing, of course) from which many of us have never even heard, or most likely ever see. Trekking to the far reaches of some remote village with only a small wooden canoe hulled out by the locals, in search
of a fresh water fish that mythology has deemed as a killer.
I know, I know... I digress. But for me, personally, that might be an amazing 'inspirational' trip! To carry around sketchbooks and draw people, or groups of indigenous people, that are so far removed from cell phones, the internet, and completely off any sort of grid that I'm are forced to focus on their traditions and way of life that is so different than what we see as ordinary. I can only imagine the limitless opportunities to sketch these native people and the time-honored traditions they practice and pass down to their children.
And well, with the unlikelihood that that'll ever happen, I'll get back to the reality at hand and share some last thoughts on what inspires or motivates me, and how you can start to think a bit differently about wherever it is you live. And trust me, it really doesn't matter where you reside, what far corner of the world you may find yourself in, or the lack of supplies you have around you. There are immense opportunities to create and document life as it happens. And for me, that's what it's all about.
My advise to you is this. Start looking at life a little differently, maybe even a lot more simply, as it relates to drawing and sketching. Free your soul and let the simplest of things be your waypoint. Let the distractions become your guide and challenge the obstacles you face to lead you on new journeys.
Here's an example. Take a look at that old guy in the corner of your local coffee shop with the interesting nose and profile... he's of great inspiration! He doesn't even know you're alive, and yet, he begs to be drawn with his raggedy old shoes and wrinkled hands reading the newspaper. He's got decades of wisdom wrapped up in those wrinkles and I'm pretty certain he has one helluva story to tell, even if you'll never be able to figure it out. It's up to you to tell some sort of story without ever speaking a word to him.
And pay close attention to the woman propped up next to the pizza shop smoking a cigarette and talking to her lover. Her body language can write
a novel and I can guarantee that you are nowhere on her radar. Such great character with the hand gestures and gum-chewing that you'll do anything
to keep her from going anywhere else, praying that she doesn't catch you. These are priceless moments and the character they exude can be so powerful.
I truly live for those few minutes, sometimes even just a few seconds, to lay pen to paper and capture a simple moment in time that will live on another day.
I'll end with this nugget of nonsense. I was enjoying a really cold day of hiking with my two dogs last week and happened across an opossum walking right beside us (yes, it would have been nice if were a more interesting specimen, but again, I make the most of what I've been given). Luckily for the opossum my dogs didn't wind him. I let the dogs meander away and I managed to capture an iPhone shot of him in full defense mode, warning me that if I come closer he will certainly gnaw me to death. I chuckled a bit and moved on, neither of us no worse for the wear. But, you can bet that the little guy will end up somewhere in one of my sketchbooks, telling some sort of story and making some sort of interesting composition, however weird it may be.
Sometimes we have to make our own inspiration as life is full of challenges and roadblocks. It's how we use them that become who we are as artists.