Posted by Gregory Johnson on

I came upon a posting on Instagram which immediately attracted my attention because it had a certain energy. It was colorful and filled with interesting movement. The artist captioned it with something along the lines of "not feeling very inspired today, this is the best I can do, I hate it". Now, maybe, being the typical insecure artist, he was fishing for compliments. Or maybe this truly was crappy in his mind; but then, why post it?

This got me thinking about the idea of inspiration. Where does it come from? Why are artists excited about one thing, and not another? Is it the "muse" that excites us? Having been a free-lance illustrator, I can tell you that inspiration is tough to come by when you're trying to bring someone else's idea to life. But then again, someone else's idea can be the SOURCE of inspiration as well. The client will give you a somewhat vague idea, and after a little noodling, you get that "Eureka" moment, and you run with it.

But the day-in day-out life of the creative person can be a real roller coaster. If you're not careful, mundane wriggles its way in, and you find you're in the doldrums. It's been my experience that you have to keep at it, even when you feel dried up. I'll sometimes just start drawing and see what happens. The "inspiration", or lack thereof, happens during the execution of the drawing. Suddenly, I'll see it, and off I go.

I'm currently working on a 12 part series of drawings based on Jung's twelve archetypes. (The first one I completed is attached, "the Innocent"). I heard reference to the archetypes somewhere, and it suddenly hit me that it would be a gas, (sorry for the fifty's expression), to draw each one. It's been done, of course, but I wanted to do it from my perspective, in my style. So there was the first inspiration, borrowed from a casual conversation. As I began on the first drawing, the inspirations kept coming. My training, experience, and, well, innocence, guided me in the process. As many, if not all, artists will tell you, the really exciting part of creating are the ideas that spill out while immersed in the work. I've realized that that's the reason I do this, for that feeling of "OH YEAH", and the anxiety that comes with getting the idea, and wondering if you're going to blow it.

It seems that the real blockade to inspiration is the constant feeling that it's not good enough, that it's filled with flaws, and "compared to his/her work I suck" and all the walls of self-doubt that we erect. The point is, that it exists, when it didn't before, and it was done with the pure intention of creating. We can then let the creation speak for itself, no matter what the outcome.

That's the true inspiration.


Leave a comment