Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…
Erin Dollar is an artist who focuses mainly on printmaking and textile arts. Her most recent project, Cotton & Flax, is a line of natural, hand printed textiles and works on paper using hand drawn patterns. She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she visits art museums with her boyfriend, and tries to keep her cat from walking on wet silkscreen prints. Her new blog is here, and she pins her inspiration here.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the internet has shaped my art making process, and how much (or little) inspiration I get from surfing the vast expanses of the internet. I’ve been feeling something recently, something I can only describe as “visual overload”, and so I have been trying hard to limit my screen time, and get back into “real life”.
It’s tricky, though, because the internet is always trying to suck me back in. More than ever, artists and creative-types are able to quickly find inspiring and beautiful images online. Pinterest has been a huge blessing for me, in that I can visually bookmark things that inspire me so that I may review them later. But the huge wealth of amazing images online can sometimes overwhelm me, and I’ve found that when I get caught up in skimming through these images, I often close my laptop feeling discouraged, and even less inspired than when I began. I’m sure many of you relate to that feeling of endless scrolling, always finding more wonderful things to read and look at online. But lately, I’ve been trying to pull away a bit.
I’ve been trying to get out more, visit museums and galleries, and to actually meet other local artists and learn about their habits and practices. Seeing what people are making in your own community can be incredibly inspiring, and seeing work in person reminds you of the human connection, something that is often lost while looking at other artists’ work online. As a printmaker, so much of what I appreciate in making new work is the process, rather than just the final image. Seeing other artists’ prints (or paintings, sculptures, etc.) in person means that I can look more closely for clues about how a piece was made, and in that way, can discover new approaches for my own work.
Recently, I’ve found it helpful to think of all the media I consume (books, magazines, movies, TV, blogs) as “input”. If I try to vary the input (for example, spend equal time surfing the web and reading books), I feel more balanced in my process of gathering inspiration. Nurturing different parts of my brain seems to help keep my creativity flowing. Listening to music, or sometimes even science or storytelling podcasts like Radiolab or This American Life, help open up my brain to new ideas as I sit at my desk and sketch.
The thing is, once I manage to sit myself down at my desk, and maintain a consistent working schedule… the inspiration just flows. Now if only I could get myself to sit still and create new work more often!