Every idea is a useful idea eventually.We're always being told to catch all ideas and write everything down. A few years ago, I started an idea pile for random future illustrations. The original plan was to make the brainstorming easier. When I got around to organizing all my notes I discovered a HUGE visual archive. Then it hit me: I should just start an infinite creative list. Done.
Think of it as a go-to visual intention index. This process can help push your self directed work farther by creating a new creative habit. This collection will come in handy when you are in-between commissions or when you want to do something new.
Idea prompts to start the process:1. What are you listening to?
As personal as our music choices are, they are still full of messages that are wordy and useful. Lyrics are quick short bursts of ideas mixed with repetition, metaphors and odd word pairing to get that right expression. Sometimes the nonsense can make total sense when you google the lyrics and read what is really going on. Some songs are cryptic and some are simple and obvious.
Go ahead and watch this song by Heart And Head called Another Story. It may not be your style of music though the video and the song repeat certain ideas and themes. They pushed the narrative lyrically and visually.
2. What are you reading?
What books, magazines or articles are getting your attention these days? To me, words are a huge asset for illustrators. Magazines are loaded with copy and buzz lines that punch the massage quickly.
Books take you places beyond your everyday living and that is a good thing. When you get a chance to hold a book, make mental and visual notes. Remember, you have only one life to live but with books you can live thousands more!
Quotes can be more than inspiring reads especially when they are not your run of the mill sayings. I'm talking about the quotes that grab every inch of your attention. Wise words, one liners, quips and just plain weird ideas can work well for promotions, your blog and your social media.
If you are feeling ambitious, try starting a quote file. When I was in university I started collecting unusual and witty quotes. Since then, this verbose folder has grown huge with thoughtful wisdom that is a a now become an almost priceless collection.
3. Where are you going?
Escaping the studio means new stuff to take in because after all, we are crafty little sponges. Browsing can be good for your work. Go get lost in a bookstore for an hour and look at book covers especially in the children's section. Gift stores carry greeting cards, paper goods that are jam packed full of visual ideas. Galleries are another place to lose yourself but on a quieter scale. Go for coffee and look around. Check out the chalk board doodles, the packaging and art on the walls. Besides that, enjoy your time out of the studio.
4. What are you watching?
Watching TV does not always have to be a waste of time. Shows, movies, cartoons, TED talks, videos and stand up comedy can jump start ideas as well as setting the right mood for creativity.
Humour comes with a positive energy that is healthy for your brain. To me, it's one of those creative diversions we should utilize especially on a bad day. Here's a jump start from some comedians discussing life lessons.
• What are you randomly hearing?
No, I'm not suggesting you eaves drop on conversations however all that background noise can be oddly useful. We naturally filter a lot of stuff. Every once and a while something will get our attention. Mine consists of cartoons, kids playing, trips to the coffee shop, moments in the produce aisle. Typically its funny things said or witty one liners that catch my attention. If I'm lucky, I get it down in my notebook.
• Where are you surfing?
Pinterest is addictive and now I know why. It's full of everything-quotes and sayings that are funny, inspiring images to the just just plain weird. Start a inspire board. Follow sites that promote creativity like Design Taxi and This Is Colossal. Customize your Facebook and Twitter page to showcase articles on what interests you from people and pages you follow. Make it easy to find sites that champion creativity by adding yourself to their newsletter.
What to do with your new list:
• an illustration challenge.
• a continuous theme.
• a book idea.
• a series.
• a gallery show.
• a series of items to sell online.
• a portfolio update.
• a promotion.
• an illustrated blog series.
• or getting back to some old work you shelved or didn't finish.
Most people spend their whole lives waiting for ideas to come to them or that right moment to feel inspired. Most people wait for things to be perfect. We only have so much time to play with ideas each week. Time is a resource. If you utilize what's around you each day, you will have more resources, more ideas and an infinite creative list. Have a great week.