People comment on my jewelry and invariably someone will ask me ‘how did you come up with that?’ The truth is usually that I have no idea, but then I would have nothing to write about, so let’s delve a little deeper into the creative process.
Inspiration is where you find it. Some people will tell you you either have it or you don’t. I don’t believe that. I think you it might come easier for some than others, but you can get better at inspiration if you work at it. I think there are a few things you can do to help yourself along in this area.
First and foremost, I try to ‘be in the moment.’ What does that mean? It means, really SEE the things you’re looking at. Most people don’t. I can liken it to a trip we took when I was about 6. We were driving through a beautiful forest and my mom tried to film it by shooting with the Super 8 movie camera (yes, I’m dating myself, but no one else will). When we got the film developed, it was one long green blur. It was pretty funny, but most people go through life like that. Their life is one big blur because they are always worried about yesterday or tomorrow and don’t focus on right now today.
When you focus on today, when you really take the time to look at the things around you, you’ll start to see patterns and textures and levels and colors like you’ve never seen them. You can savor things and they will make an impression on you.
Another way to help your creativity is to take pictures of things you find interesting, for whatever reason. I remember seeing a big old doorway one time. It struck me that it kind of looked like a skirt with a slit up the front. I went home and sketched out a pendant from that experience. (I started making it, but haven’t finished it, I don’t know why.)
Look at other’s art. Look at all kinds of art. I like to look at jewelry, but not the mass-produced stuff at the mall. I like to look on Pinterest to see what other jewelry artist are up to. I like to look at paintings for color and texture. I like to look at sculptures for dimension and positive and negative spaces. All of these things are basic design element, but sometimes we need a little kick start to get our imaginations going. I like what my buddy John Heusler tells his students. “If you like a design, draw it out. Then re-draw it making a change to it. Then do that ten times and the design is yours.” It’s a great exercise.
But mostly, I like nature. In my mind’s eye, all art is a re-interpretation of God’s creation. Don’t be constrained by staying in ‘the box.’ However, I think there is a lot of “art” out there that is just scribbling, so I say “Color outside the lines, but don’t scribble.” I don’t know what that looks like, except I think I recognize it when I see it.
Finally, if you’re a jewelry artist, or an artist in another medium, work at your craft. Make stuff. Make a lot of stuff. You’ll be honing your technical skills and at the same time pushing yourself to come up with new ideas. Make a habit of setting aside time to be creative. I think you’ll be surprised with what you can come up with.