There’s a great black and white picture I saw a number of years ago that simply says ‘how to annoy your designer friends’. There’s no image, but the words are so poorly spaced and incorrectly aligned that it’s guaranteed to set the teeth of anyone who knows anything about design on edge!
Creativity that’s just a little off
As a part of my job each year I get to design a set of Christmas cards for one of our clients (a pretty great Australian company). The cards are handmade by our employees here and then shipped to Australia. While it’s always challenging, it’s one of my favourite tasks. It’s festive, gloriously creative and I have almost unlimited artistic license in capturing the Christmas spirit and putting it on paper.
As our program has expanded, I’ve found myself designing a range of other cards. Happy birthday, thank you, welcome home and some more of the usual newsagent finds. As I was attempting one of these new designs last week I found myself thinking of the image I talked about earlier, only I was the designer and the teeth being set on edge were my own!
While nothing was terrible, everything just looked . . . off. The colour combinations just weren’t quite right and I wasn’t loving the elements I’d chosen. I would be inspired, sure I’d cracked it, but then couldn’t quite pull off in real life what I saw in my head.
Thinking about inspiration
As frustrating as it was, the process got me thinking about inspiration. Where did it come from? How did I get it back when I felt like mine had deserted me? Not only when I was designing cards, or in the middle of a creative process, but when I started becoming cynical about people and institutions, or losing faith in things I believed in . . . where do I go to be encouraged and regain vision?
Finding inspiration through people – even as an introvert
As I thought about it, I realised that one of my first moves when I’m feeling uninspired is to seek out other people. Other designers, other creatives, other artists, anyone whose person or work lights a little spark in my soul.
As an introvert, this is not my go to action! But when I need to be inspired, there is magic in seeing the beauty or originality of what other people have done and wanting to create something that speaks the same to other people. In fact, it’s often my creative friends who see the things in my work that I can’t see myself and who push me to be better.
I find it the same in life. When I feel discouraged by the innumerable disheartening things I hear, whether local or far away, it is always people who are able to spur me on. Stories of hurt and hardship can always be answered with stories of goodness and resilience. Stories that make you believe that, as cliché as it sounds, there is still good in the world. Seeing the people around me achieve and grow and keep going even when times are tough is always a huge encouragement to me to do the same.
Finding inspiration in hope – anything is possible!
Which brings me to my second source of inspiration . . . hope. While it seems like a concept too abstract to bring about concrete change, hope is always what pushes me to keep going when I feel like I’ve lost my soul spark. Hope that the artwork I create next will be beautiful or that it will be the next card design that I’ll be happy with. Without hope that what I’m doing is achievable or worthwhile, I have no reason to continue. With it, anything seems possible.
Hope makes me look back at people who have lived with integrity and situations where justice prevailed and then points me forward and says ‘the future can be this and more’. It feels so difficult when you’ve been let down to still have faith in the person or institution that disappointed you. Yet hope inspires me to believe that disappointment isn’t an inevitability. I always want to believe that I am able to impact my future and influence my world.
I still haven’t finished my card designs. They’re getting closer and still aren’t quite there, but I’m hopeful this will be the week that they get finished!
May I (and you) step out this week and find the inspiration we need to keep moving forward, whether for work or life!
Anna hails from Australia but lives and works in South East Asia. She enjoys travel, good coffee and getting to hang out with awesome people from around the world.
Anna Waite hails from Brisbane, Australia. She enjoys travel, good coffee and getting to hang out with awesome people from around the world!