Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

At The Fair

At The Fair

More photography by this artist can be found on her Flickr photostream here: endofmarch. You can also visit her blog at end-of-march.blogspot.com.

This post is part of a weekly feature on this blog called a Simple Image, which is just an image with links to the photographer’s or artist’s own website or blog.  If you would like to have your artwork or photography featured, or if you have suggestions on who should be featured, please contact me via email.


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As an artist and creative person, I usually have a well of ideas I draw from when I need inspiration, but there are some times when either the ideas don’t fit the medium or the purpose of the project I’m working on, or perhaps my well has run completely dry. When I need to replenish the supply, there are some things I usually do. My personal toolbox, though, is not infinitely deep and full, so I thought I would ask some other creative types where they draw inspiration from to see if I might find some new sources. Here’s what was shared with me (please feel free to add your own in the comments, as well):

christopherscot Christopher Scott: Lately I’ve been drawing a lot of my inspiration from the past, graphic design throughout history, and my childhood, specifically.
jcrossland Jonathan Crossland: I find inspiration in past events, emotions that perhaps occurred years before, but apply as a “feeling” to a new situation.
pixiequeen10thk Kirsty Selway: I get a lot of inspiration from other people’s work. Sometime’s just 1 texture will suffice.

Here are some sources I often draw on when I’m in need of inspiration:

  • tarot cards
  • architecture
  • artwork (both classic and modern)
  • naturally occurring themes or shapes or color combinations
  • fairy tales, myths, or legends
  • literature or historical events
  • a sense of whimsy

So, tell me, when you seem to have scraped the bottom of the barrel, where do you go for new inspiration? How do you come up with new ideas? What recharges and refreshes you?

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Row Houses - Washington, DC © Sara Halperin

Row Houses - Washington, DC © Sara Halperin

I’ve decided to do a feature every Wednesday on this blog featuring photography or artwork. It will be a simple image, nothing more and no explanation. Today’s image is a photograph that I took myself, but I intend on featuring a new artist or photographer each week, so if you would like to have your artwork or photography featured, or if you have suggestions on who should be featured, please contact me.

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Sometimes I forget that the best thing a creative person can do is shut out everything else and just take a time out. We all need time to unplug, unwind, and unthink.

I recently wrote about what I would do if I could create my own schedule and how I’d like to find a way to stay on a permanent vacation. In addition to the benefits of spending time away from electronic distractions, staying away from others’ opinions in general can be extremely beneficial when trying to create something new. In the days of hyper-connectivity, it’s hard not to be influenced by other media, including television, radio, internet, phone calls, and even face-to-face conversations.

While I respect and value the opinions of my family, friends, and colleagues, I have come to the conclusion that I need to set aside time for myself away from the phone, the internet, and people if even for a few hours a week. So, I’m going to schedule SaraKate Blackouts – blocks of time when I can just lay outside on a blanket and appreciate the shade a tree offers in DC humidity, do some painting, write in my journal (yes, I actually have a real paper journal … not that I use it enough!), go on a long walk without purpose or destination, make a decadent homecooked meal, well… you get the idea. Basically anything but errands, work, or connecting with other people. I plan to schedule this in a few hours at a time, starting with this Thursday evening. I’m not sure it will be the same time every week or even if the duration will stay the same, but I’ve got to start somewhere and what better time to start than now?

That being said, I leave you with one of my favourite quotes on meditation and reflection:

The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment.Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

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Cold and Frosty Beer

Cold and Frosty Beer © Sara Halperin (sweetpaperdoll)

There are some simple things which always remain essential to enjoying summer and for me, one of them is Sam Adams’ Summer Ale. Another is spreading out a blanket across a patch of green grass and sitting in the sun, reading a good book. Hamburgers and corn on the cob, humid days followed by thunderstorms and then drier air, outdoor concerts, sticking my feet in the sand at the ocean.

For me, the essence of summer is where all these things collide and I feel like a kid again, wanting to swing from trees and run around barefoot, picking strawberries from the ground. Summer is my favourite season and I just thought I’d share a little bit of it with you.

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This post was inspired by my evolving online education in social media, public relations, graphic design and web development and this content-rich blog entry by Arik Hanson, who outlines his free and easily accessible online Social Media MBA.


When I started college, I put my love for fine art on the back burner in order to educate myself in something I thought would be both more lucrative and more worthwhile. Toward the end of my four years at my university, I found myself applying to many jobs, thinking I would get some experience and likely need to go back to school in order to finally get into mediation, teaching, or professional research. I observed my friends who had studied crafts and trades, who had received practical, hands-on experience in their respective fields, producing amazing things. I had shied away from studying art because what could be practical in that? I didn’t want to be a starving artist forever.

Ironically, my friends who studied in arts and design, communications, journalism, audio production, and media arts had full portfolios and were able to market themselves well. It was those friends who were accepted easily into graduate schools or found themselves employed with full potential for a long and exciting career in their fields.

In the years since my graduation, I have felt that I lack a creative outlet. Everything leading up to this point in my life is now pointing in the directionof learning graphic design and website development, so I decided (at least for now) to ignore traditional means of studying this field and to get my (mostly) FREE education online.

Here’s an outline of what my invaluable online education looks like:

Instructors: VeerleGrace Smith. Chad Engle. Cameron Senior. Jacob Cass. Chris Spooner, among others.

Required Reading: NetTuts+. PsdTuts+. MyInkBlog. SixRevisions. Minervity. Web Design Ledger. Smashing Magazine. You the Designer. Web Designer Wall. Web Designer Depot.

Syllabus: The syllabus is fluid and fits to my schedule, because I decide when I have time, when I don’t, and when I should finish any projects I might be working on. This could include anything from the importance of writing clean code to manipulating photographs or working on a mock-up of a layout for a new website.

Labwork & Homework: Reading up on new blogs, following links on Twitter, finding websites that speak to me and viewing the page source, sketching in my Moleskine. I do a lot of work in Dreamweaver and Photoshop, but you could just as easily use minimalist text editor like WordPad or TextEdit and a free image editing software like Gimp if you wanted to save the money on those programs. 

 It’s such a great way to learn and I have gained a lot of knowledge and exponentially increased my skill set in just the past couple of months since I have made this decision to seek out my own education rather than enroll in a program. I look forward to learning more in the area as I add to all the lists above. Once I have sufficiently mastered html, CSS, and converting a PS layout into html for a website, I can move on to learn other coding languages. I plan on furthering my hobby in photography and teaching myself how to use Illustrator to round out my graphics skills.

This version of education may not exactly be orthodox, but it is certainly time- and cost-effective!

If you have suggestions on other blogs or websites to read or programs to use, please feel free to leave comments. I’m always looking to learn more and appreciate input from friends and colleagues. 



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And it strikes at the oddest times.


Monsieur IV by Blanca Gomez

Monsieur IV by Blanca Gomez


While I was working on some menial administrative tasks at work, the inspiration struck me how to draw the logo I’d been wanting to create for a friend’s make up artistry business. Not only did I find the strategy I needed for her logo design, but a great name for her business and online identity struck me. I went to her and proposed it offhand, thinking she might not like it. However, not only did she like the idea, she even picked a theme song based on it!

It seems that inspiration can strike any time, day or night, no matter the circumstance or surroundings.

But this got me wondering when and where I do my best work. Where am I the most creative and efficient? Is there a specific time of day that I work best?

Personally, I do my best reading and research early in the day, when the sun is rising, with a cup of coffee or tea in hand, before I have a chance to interact with anyone else (hence why I recently decided to work from 8:30am to 4:30pm at my office). In regards to administrative, management, and other business-related practices, I tend to do best in the middle of the day in front of a computer, where I can manage things by spreading them out across a table or desk and can access any files or other materials I might need to stay well-informed and organized. However, I often do my best creative and artistic work long after this, at night, once the quiet of dusk has settled and I am alone again, usually sitting on the floor or close to the ground with materials spread out all over the floor. For some reason, my center of balance is extremely important to the way my brain works.


When do you do your best work? Do you find different times of day for different types of work? If you could set your own schedule, what would it be like?

Mine might go something like:

06:30 wake up, greet the day, etc.

07:30 coffee/tea, breakfast, emails, Tweets, RSS feed

08:00 research, reading, etc.

10:00 go to the gym, work out, shower, change, etc.

12:00 have lunch, get organized for the afternoon, check emails again

13:00 administrative tasks, other business-related tasks

16:30 take a walk, clear my head

17:00 finish administrative work, other business

18:00 make and have dinner, chores, errands, etc.

20:00 creative work

22:00 wind down, watch tv, read a book, catch up online

23:30 bed

I know my body likes best when I get a work-out in mid-morning, but unfortunately, having a normal 9-5 type job prevents me from having this ideal schedule, so I do what I can with what I’m given. However, at least I know what times of day and what situations maximize efficiency and creativity. Under what condiditions do you best work? How would your schedule differ from mine?

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