Influences and Inspiration as an Artist

Several years back, I was working my butt off as an artist, and doing art shows almost every month. There were shipping boxes everywhere and frequent road trips. My husband and I were young, newly married, and without kids. I had a lot of flexibility in my life that allowed me to work a lot, travel, and take on new projects. It was a very exciting time for me.

At that time it was pretty early on in my recovery for schizoaffective disorder, and art was how I frequently coped with my symptoms. I had no problem finding inspiration. Sometimes I think people found my story more interesting than my art, but I was having a great time and it didn’t seem to bother me.

I still work in the arts, but my last project as an independent artist was back in 2015.

I’m in a really stable place now. I would even say I’m pretty boring. My mental illness isn’t really providing inspiration these days.

I hope to return to working as an artist sometime in the future, but I’m going to have to think about what I want to say with my work. I’m not the type of artist that creates pretty paintings to hang above your couch.

Are there any other artists out there willing to share their influences and inspiration?


  1. kestrel says

    OK, I’ll try. For most of my life my “inspiration” was bills… haha… and how to pay them. But, joking aside (although of course it’s no joke and something I think every artist has to deal with) I’ll often look at work of artists from long ago – museum stuff. Ancient artifacts, old paintings and sculpture. This gets my brain going and I’ll start designing things in my head. I save things like old calendars (I have a daily planner with a photo for nearly every day, put out by the Smithsonian) or whatever I can get my hands on, and sometimes get those out and just look through them. The internet is great for that of course.

    For some of the work I do, I simply look at the examples of what people insist on calling the “real” ones. (They are all real. It’s just that mine are really, really small. They still exist, though.) So for example I belong to some groups of makers of the full-size pieces, and me trying to understand how someone makes a full-sized Whatever helps me to understand how I can make it at 1/32 of actual size.

    I guess my answer comes down to “other people”.

    Basically I’ve found that if somethings seems really “right” to me, other people will like it too. The trick to selling it of course is to get it where people can see it and that’s just a constant struggle as the world keeps changing. Right now it’s all just kind of building up in my house.

  2. rejiquar says

    I don’t know this will help, but I was trained with a primary concentration in life drawing, secondary in water-based painting, a roundabout way of saying I have the technical chops to make `art’.

    I still love to draw, but the bulk of my finished work is …bead jewelry. Or embroidery. Or similarly denigrated `girly’ (wait for it) craft. I loved illustration in college, but my teachers, deep into the whole concept art thing, hated it.

    For me, the sheer joy of mastering a medium is enough. IOW, I spend a lot of time making pretty things…not to go over the couch, but around people’s necks: that’s a fair assessment of what I do. Yet, *internally*, I know I’m working the creative art muscles (as I like to think of them) just as hard as with the `serious’ stuff. There’s a lot of `pretty’ art out there that’s damned hard to do once you actually try it yourself, and copying other people’s stuff to learn what they do has probably been the single most effective thing I’ve done to learn to respect other artists.

    It’s been my experience that if I find a technique, or some other person’s art I like, or whatever minor starting point, so long as it’s engaging on some level, is good enough to get going. After a while, provided one works consistently, ideas will start cascading, usually faster than they could ever be executed; and those ideas are more likely to be…I dunno, more…something? Arty? Serious? Engaging? —This is not, however, a good approach for making work *other people* will necessarily recognize as art, or pieces that are highly salable. As you’ve already discovered, having good pieces is helpful, but having a effective marketing strategy is *essential*.

    If all else fails, find the work of one–three artists you find really engaging, exciting, important, and copy them. Doing so will allow you to a) figure out which bits are actually important to you while b) giving you something to do while figuring out a).

    Good luck

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *