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Whatever Brings You Joy and Inspiration…

If you have kids, you probably recognize Olivia, the book character on the picture below. And if you have kids and don’t know who Olivia is, you should run to the bookstore and get some of Ian Falconer’s books because they are incredibly creative and fun. My daughter and I still enjoy reading them, even though we have read them a million times over the years and pretty much know them by heart. Oh, even if you don’t have kids, you should check them out. They will inspire you and make you laugh!

This is Olivia. She is good at lots of things.

When I saw this Olivia doll at the bookstore I simply couldn’t resist buying it because just looking at her makes me smile and feel good about myself. Yes, Olivia is good at lots of things and has no problem testing and trying new ones, even if just once, like the Pollock style painting she created on one of her home walls after a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City! Olivia is also a dreamer and her great imagination takes her to great adventures where she is the main heroine. She is a famous ballerina, opera singer, tightrope walker, lion tamer, band leader, storyteller… with a very unique sense of fashion and style. Olivia’s drum beats to her own rhythm. She is unique, original, and very proud to be truly herself.

So I decided to buy the doll on the picture and place it in a prominent spot in my studio, where I can easily see her. Olivia makes me smile. She reminds me that imagination is key in my creative ventures. She assures me that I am good at many things. She tells me that I can be myself and feel proud of it. And she also is a living proof that good design doesn’t have to be complicated, and that creativity creates a momentum of its own. Ian Falconer’s style is unique in that he uses simple lines and 4 basic colors (black, red, gray, and white), with which he creates a wonderful world for Olivia and her family. And of course, he came up with this adorable character that now even has a TV show of her own…

So grab whatever brings you joy—your favorite painting, a souvenir from a nature walk, a cartoon, a friendship token, a childhood toy, or a doll like me—and place it in your studio where you can see it while you work. Let it remind you why and how you became an artist in the first place. Let it uplift your spirit when you need it and bring inspiration when you muse takes a vacation. Let it provide you with the smiles that you require on a daily basis so you don’t take yourself too seriously. Hopefully it will prod your creativity in the right direction and refresh your sense of purpose, especially when doubts start creeping in. Let it help you remember that, like Olivia, you are [you name here] and you are good at lots of things!

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Someone asked me the other day, “Where does your inspiration come from?” As a business owner and manager, I have to spend a lot of time dealing with business related stuff, learning about and implementing marketing strategies, designing new ads, keeping inventory and books up to date, optimizing web sites, etc., and with all the “technical” stuff going through my head sometimes it can be tricky to turn that switch off and jump back into the creative process of my jewelry designs. You may find yourself in a similar situation if you have a job that is not related to your creative endeavors. Even if you are a full time designer or artist, I am sure that sometimes you wonder what happened to your muse…

I have to admit that it is not inspiration that is generally missing in my creative process, but time to convert all my creative ideas into reality! Not to say that I haven’t had those blah days like anyone else, or doubts about what it is that I am doing. I don’t think any artist or creative type is completely free from those days, ever. But those are the times when I take a close look at myself to make sure my creativity is on the right track. Any designer or artist has to find their own style, their own voice, their own personal statement (that which makes their creations totally theirs), to find satisfaction in what they do. Otherwise it becomes like a mechanical job. I have to make sure I stay true to myself with what I am doing. This, of course, doesn’t mean that I don’t think about who my customers are or how to market my designs. It does mean, however, that creativity and business have to find a healthy balance to keep me sane and to keep the inspiration flowing.

So, where does my inspiration come from? Obviously, it emerges from my own life experiences and interests, but it gets nourished with the creations of other artists and designers. I really enjoy going to a bookstore or the library and browsing books or magazines on art, jewelry, and design (of course I love museums, too, but there aren’t that many where I live now). I browse the internet, too, of course. Not to copy or try to emulate anyone, but to get inspired by the length and depth of human creativity.

To give you an example, today I bumped into a blog post that I find not only inspiring, but also fun and ecologically minded, and if it has nothing to do with jewelry. Plus, it was like the perfect blend of “technical” (read, electronic) and creativity:

Animals from Old Electronic Parts
Animals from Old Electronic Parts

Inspiration can come from looking at shapes, colors, hues, ideas, designs, ads, and pretty much anything in between. That is why I don’t just look at jewelry books, but at a wide variety of art and design sources. It can also come from the feelings that certain music, movies, or conversations triggered in me at any given time. Regardless of where inspiration comes from, I keep myself in check to make sure that my designs come from my own ideas. Inspiration is one thing and trying to emulate someone else is a completely different animal. Not to mention that trying to transform creativity into a selling statement doesn’t work for me either. I am always in search of my own personal style, however changing and evolving it may be. Still, just my own.

Anyway, if you ever feel like your inspiration took a vacation, just give yourself a break  and go to a good concert, talk about the stuff that you like with a friend or other creative types, visit a bookstore, and check out other artists and designers to get re-inspired to find your own voice. Finding your true creative expression can be a challenge, but you have to remember that everything in life is a process and give yourself the necessary mental fuel to feed the creative flame!