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How to Be More Creative in the Age of Over-Inspiration

Amy Ng blogs at Pikaland, a popular stop for illustration lovers, students and artists who are looking for answers on how to find a balance between art, creativity and commerce.

Neil J Rook

Ah, the internet. What would I do without it? It’s a portal that bounces me from one wonderment to the next – an inspiring road trip filled with jaw-dropping illustrations and illuminating interviews, with sideshow attractions of fun video tutorials to community hangouts for every niche under the sun. The internet is the gateway to inspiration on demand, and it seems like the more sidetracked I get, the hungrier I get for more.

When you have a source that beckons with creativity and inspiration 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, it’s easy to be sucked into a loop. There’s always something interesting a mere click away. I know for a fact that I’m not alone in my predicament. In the age of Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and the many infinite scrolling art & design websites (I liken it to a bottomless well of beautiful things just waiting to be discovered) – what does this mean for artists?

The National Centre for Biotechnology Information’s research in April 2015 has surveyed that the average attention span of people in 2015 is now 8.25 seconds, compared to 12 seconds in the year 2000. That means our capacity for holding attention is 30% less compared to 15 years ago – and it’s not surprising, given how our brains are hard-wired to crave new information; according to Bruce Morton, a researcher with the University of Western Ontario’s Brain and Mind Institute.

With each click leading to the next and the more information we devour, the novelty wears off quickly, and off we go in search of better, more beautiful, more interesting things. It’s nasty cycle that perpetuates itself; leading to a host of other problems like a lack of productivity (hey, where did the time go?), procrastination (just one more website!) and for some, the inability (or reluctance) to dive deeper; to analyse and synthesise the information they’ve already visually absorbed.

I’ve talked to college students who were confused by it all – there was no lack of inspiration, and yet they weren’t inspired. They grew up with the internet being a very big part of their lives, and yet they seem to be suffering from inspiration fatigue, and couldn’t understand why. One theory that I brought up was that perhaps they’ve been looking at what was already completed and done by other artists, therefore subconsciously they didn’t need to figure out the process for themselves (hey, since it’s already been done!) Replicating something visually without finding out the underlying thought process behind it all is just like skimming the water without knowing its depths. It’s also a little like eating junk food all the time, which tastes great but isn’t very good for you.

I recommended my students to try and be more conscientious of the information they took in. Instead of merely looking at the aesthetics of the many works of art in front of their screen before jumping to the next, how about they pause for a moment and focus on finding out more details about it instead? Dig through archives of the artist’s work, and perhaps catch a glimpse of their process. Maybe it works and maybe it doesn’t (the ails of over-inspiration runs far deeper), but the reminder to dig vertically instead of mindlessly pacing horizontally might just be a good start. I needed the nudge too as I’m sometimes guilty of the same.

It’s times like these that it’s useful to remember Charles Eames’ quote: “Art resides in the quality of doing, process is not magic.”

Maybe we don’t really need more inspiration. We need more doing instead.

[Illustration by Neil J Rook]

Posted by Amy Ng on 07/16/15 under artists,business,freelance
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GARDEN by Shelley Matheis

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Submitted by Shelley Matheis for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

Posted by Thomas James on 07/16/15 under artists,weekly topics
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GARDEN by Michael Robertson

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Submitted by Michael Robertson for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

Posted by Thomas James on 07/16/15 under artists,children's art,weekly topics
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Breathtaking Illustrated Short Film by Burcu & Geoffrey

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Posted by Thomas James on 07/16/15 under animation,artists
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Get Your Art Printed on Laptop Sleeves

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Society6, which serves as a great platform for creating products featuring your illustrations, has now added protective and stylish laptop sleeves to their growing list of options!

“Available in 13″ and 15″, these lightweight, high quality sleeves won’t disappoint. The outside material – polyester – is optimal for vibrant color absorption and accurately capturing every detail of a design. The design is printed on both sides, fully showcasing great artwork while keeping your pricey gear protected. Pulling back the zipper, you’ll find a super soft, scratch resistant micro-fiber lining.”

Find out how you can make laptop sleeves featuring your art with Society6!

Posted by Thomas James on 07/15/15 under apparel,business
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GARDEN by Ashly Lovett

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Submitted by Ashly Lovett for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

Posted by Thomas James on 07/15/15 under artists,weekly topics
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Meet the IF Team – Natalie Magnuson

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Hello friends!

As part of our ongoing efforts to celebrate all the fine folks who help to keep the Illustration Friday fires burning, we’d like to take a moment to highlight one of our key contributors, Natalie Magnuson! She does an outstanding job of helping members of the IF community share their art with the world, while also helping to keep us all inspired to create!

Natalie Magnuson is an illustrator and product designer relocated in the Southwest. She received her BFA in Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and has many years of experience designing for the giftware and specialty market. Her freelance work includes editorial and children’s book illustration. Find out more about Natalie on her website.

Posted by Thomas James on 07/14/15 under artists,IF news update
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GARDEN by Lucas Sauviller

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Submitted by Lucas Sauviller for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

Posted by Thomas James on 07/14/15 under artists,children's art,weekly topics
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20 Pieces of Advice from 20 Illustrators

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In preparation for her awesome upcoming online workshop Building a Freelance Illustration Business, Illustrator Salli Swindell decided to reach out and get some thoughts from other artists. The question was “What’s one piece of advice you would share with other illustrators?” This is testament to the fact that Salli is doing her best to make the workshop as useful and helpful as possible, and she has graciously shared the results with Illustration Friday!

Meet 20 artists below and read what they have to say! Also be sure to check out Salli’s educational and inspiring online workshop: Building a Freelance Illustration Business here.

Coming soon: Part 2 – Advice from art directors.

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Posted by Thomas James on 07/14/15 under art supplies,artists,business,classes,freelance,IF news update
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GARDEN by Amber Tankink

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Submitted by Amber Tankink for the Illustration Friday topic GARDEN.

Posted by Thomas James on 07/14/15 under artists,weekly topics
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