On Finding (Time for) Inspiration




Read most interviews with artists and here’s a question you’ll usually see : “Where do you find your inspiration?” This is actually a question I dread answering, and that’s not because I don’t think it’s a valid question to ask or that the topic of inspiration is silly. I dread answering it, because inspiration is so elusive and ever-changing for me. I love this quote by Jack London (hand lettered, above), because it cuts to the chase of my personal experience with inspiration: that one often has to actively seek it out.

I make my living making art, mostly as a commercial illustrator, which means I mostly make art for other people. I illustrate their stories or hand letter their mottos or make stationery or wallpaper for their company to sell. I love doing this, and sometimes I get to infuse a lot of my personal passion and interest in my illustration jobs. But it also means that I don’t have a lot of time (or recently any time) — or inspiration — for personal work. And when I do find the time, I’m not even sure what to do with it. Maybe some of you can relate?

The irony is that my full time art career began precisely as a result of the fact that I painted for enjoyment. Gathering inspiration and making art was what I did “on the side”  to relieve stress from my job in the non profit world.  But once something becomes your job, it changes. Last year my art career became the largest source of my stress, which makes me laugh (I do find humor in the irony). I realized recently that I desperately miss the days when I had time to make art for the sake of making art or to leisurely scour picture books looking for new ideas. I love my illustration career and am grateful to have steady work. And I also know that in order to remain an enthusiastic working illustrator or to continue to be a viable artist in the market for years to come, I need to have carefree time in the studio to both go after and apply inspiration.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that recently I’ve been working in general in my life to have more fun and to relax more. And that’s going well, I am happy to report. I am no longer wishing for my life to be more balanced. I am making it more balanced. My latest goal? One day a week I will go to the studio to explore new subject matter and make new work, just for me. My latest inspiration? This book. Stay tuned.

Happy Friday.