My Creative Inspiration: James
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”— Pablo Picasso
I’d like to say that this is a quote that I’ve lived by for most of my life. I’d like to say that, but actually this is just a quote that I found on Google because I was running into some creative block.
Many people are familiar with the term “writer’s block”, but I find that when I’m working on anything that requires creative input, I can run into a block or inability to focus and elaborate creatively. Why is that? It can be frustrating how at times it can be extremely difficult to come up with any creative ideas on a specific topic, where at other times it can be impossible to focus on anything else.
Switching My Environment
When my creative tank is completely running on empty there are some actions that I’ll take to try to find inspiration. Sometimes it can be as simple as switching up the environment that I’m working in. I’ll often go to a coffee shop or library if I can’t seem to concentrate at home. Or if I’m at work then I might go for a walk or sit somewhere else besides my desk. The difference of environment means that when I glance up between work, I’ll consciously realize that I’m already out and physically somewhere else, so I might as well keep the ball rolling and continue being productive. This abnormal environment can also subconsciously inspire your mind, as you’re seeing the “world” from a new perspective.
Even At A Young Age
In terms of media that inspires me, I find myself inspired the most by pieces that completely suck me in and make me forget that I’m even watching something. As someone who makes content, it can be difficult for me to watch something without constantly trying to tear it apart, trying to figure out how it was made. I know that I’m watching something that’s truly inspiring me when those thoughts don’t occur.
The whole reason that I’ve gone into video production is because of pieces that inspired me at a young age. As a kid, I watched a lot of TV and movies, but was always enthralled by pieces that incorporated extremely creative elements. Shows like the Muppets, Fraggle Rock and Pee Wee’s Playhouse were some of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching cartoons, but to me, animation has a certain element that causes my brain to say “this isn’t real” and keeps me from truly getting sucked in. Jim Henson and others that created entertainment using puppetry and other practical effects kept this switch from going off in my head, and caused me to enter the world that they had created. Even now, I enjoy watching these shows, not just for the nostalgia, but because I still find myself being inspired by their approach to environment building and storytelling.
Cinematography and Storytelling
As I’ve grown older, I’ve found inspiration in interesting cinematography and more importantly, storytelling. Some of my favorite directors are Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, The Revenant) and Spike Jonze (Her, Being John Malkovich) because of their unique styles of storytelling. When watching their films, I can easily get swept into the universe that they’ve built and completely forget about the outside world. Even when I’m not directly relating to the characters, I feel extremely compelled to keep watching to find out what’s going to happen. I consider their films to be like wells that I can always go back to and find something inspiring that I had missed before.
Or Maybe a Music Video
If I don’t have time to watch a feature length film or binge watch some episodes of Fraggle Rock, I’ll normally go to YouTube and watch music videos for inspiration. Because music videos are such short form, yet still be entertaining, they can result in more creative risks than any film or series can. My biggest go-to and probably my favorite of all time is the video for Beyonce’s song Blue. I’m genuinely a fan of Beyonce and I think this song is one of her most underrated, but the real reason why I love the video is because it’s so simple, yet beautiful. All of the shots of just regular people in their everyday environment, doing work, playing soccer and just living makes this piece feel so human, which to me is a rare feeling for a music video. The piece also reminds me that beauty can come from anywhere, even just a small town or village, and it just takes some inspiration to see that.
For anyone else who, like me, runs into a creative block at times, I’d highly recommend reading the book “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. In it, the author breaks down the relationship between productivity, creativity and resistance. I’ve found it to be pretty enlightening to read up on some of the science of creative blockage. By far the most helpful lesson that I’ve learned is that everyone experiences it, even the true professionals that are seen as creative legends. The difference is that they don’t wait for inspiration to come to them, but they keep working until they arrive at inspiration. Even though I found the aforementioned quote by Pablo Picasso while I was experiencing some creative block, I was able to use it to inspire me to think about my inspiration, and subsequently turn that into this blog post.