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View Full Version : "Inspiration is for amateurs; ideas come out of process"


glitter bomb
01-27-2011, 03:40 PM
The topic of how to come up with your own character or design keeps coming up. I read this quote from Drawn today and felt it was so dead-on I should share.

"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case."
-- Chuck Close, via Drawn (http://blog.drawn.ca/post/2928350595/the-advice-i-like-to-give-young-artists-or)

Keep in mind that here the word "inspiration" is referring to the "lightning bolt from the sky" instant moment of inspiration out of darkness, not seeing items that inspire you in the sense of encouraging you. In a nutshell, I feel he's saying it's all a process. And that sitting around waiting for something to happen is not what experienced creatives do. Instead they know how to work the process to develop a worthwhile idea.

I find there are times when an idea just hits you out of the blue, when you have that lightning-bolt inspiration and run with it. But it seems more often creation is a journey, not a single point. Even the ideas or trials that you discard, even the mistakes you make all lead you toward the destination. And even with the rare inspiration, the idea needs further development which becomes a process of iteration.

Do you have a process you'd like to share? A way you develop ideas? Places you find sparks or encouragement for design ideas?

alpha_helix
01-27-2011, 07:01 PM
I feel like I'm hit bit an inspiration lightning bolt at least once a day, but I do sort of agree with what he's saying, that fully formed brilliant ideas don't just randomly appear. Very cool but not quite brilliant ones do for me, they just need a little help to grow into brilliant ideas.

Me, I don't really have a process. Any time I see something cool it goes into the brain blender, spends a few weeks mixing with all of the other stuff in there and then gets pooped out as something truly awesome--usually while I'm doing lab work and can't take the time to properly think about it.

glitter bomb
01-29-2011, 11:01 PM
I feel like I'm hit bit an inspiration lightning bolt at least once a day, but I do sort of agree with what he's saying, that fully formed brilliant ideas don't just randomly appear. Very cool but not quite brilliant ones do for me, they just need a little help to grow into brilliant ideas.
That's typically my experience as well. I go through periods where I'm constantly barraged by ideas, and frequently hit by inspiration. But even the inspiration doesn't come to me as a fully formed perfect idea. I need to let it brew, do research, make sketches, try to either keep pushing the concept to improve or nail down the details. And that research, sketching, detailing and iterations is all part of the process.

If I had stopped at the initial inspiration and said "ok I'm done" I wouldn't be pleased with the results. If I had immediately self-criticized the inspiration as not 100% perfect from the start, I'd be ignoring the process that allows the idea to work in the first place.

In other words, I think we own the creative process, we're not inspiration's bitch sitting around alone waiting for her to call. ;)


That all seemed natural to me. However I have a friend who would immediately shoot down 90% of his ideas/inspiration because they weren't brilliant from the start, weren't something entirely unique that no one had ever done before, or weren't fully formed from the start. Then he'd be miserable, feel like a failure and paralyze himself by constantly judging every potential spark of an idea. He'd create his own creative block by never allowing himself to explore.

It has taken me years to finally coax him into a different, more productive way of thinking. One where he can brainstorm and just allow the ideas to come without judging them, then weed out the weaker ones on successive passes. And one where he can accept that he does have great ideas, he just needs to give them a chance to work. He's really talented so it's been nice to see him find a groove.

When I showed him the quote he said "I wish someone had told me that 10 years ago," so I figured it might help someone else here too. :)


Me, I don't really have a process. Any time I see something cool it goes into the brain blender, spends a few weeks mixing with all of the other stuff in there and then gets pooped out as something truly awesome--usually while I'm doing lab work and can't take the time to properly think about it.
I think that is your process. ;) I like "brain blender" and "pooped out as awesome" as descriptive phrases for it. I do that too... let things rattle around and bang against each other, both in the conscious and subconscious. And sometimes that happens at inconvenient moments, like you said. Bizarrely, I get lightbulb moments on how to resolve something or details to add when I lay down to sleep. The day could be quiet, then I lay down and my brain starts tugging at my sleeve going "hey! hey! listen to me! hey!"

~H~
01-30-2011, 10:05 PM
Thanks for sharing the quote ^_^. It makes me think of how I was "inspired" to make my Link's Mom cosplay.....

I had known for awhile that I wanted to dress my little guy up as Link, and originally planned to go along as Navi (I got the costume finished and everything). Then, shortly before the con, I realized that there was no way I was going to risk wearing fairy wings while wrangling my toddler. So I whipped-up a Kokiri Kid outfit....once that was finished I came to the conclusion that it was foolish of me to even TRY to pull it off (since the Kokiri Kids all have childlike faces & bodies). So I modified my Kokiri outfit a bit, and 'Voila!' I'm Link's Mom ^_-.

So, in short, I ended-up making two complete costumes before I finally came-up with the Link's Mom notion. Definitely some trial-and-error involved, but I'm extremely pleased with the resulting idea.