If you don’t seek inspiration, how can your work be inspired?

Image sourced from Flickr by Powell Burns

At its essence, creativity is about combining different things in exciting, unexpected new ways. Which means creativity can’t just spring from an empty place. To conjure up brilliant ideas and designs, your brain needs a diverse repository of life experiences, memories, and inspiration to draw from. All your favorite examples of creativity and imagination have at their root other outside influences—be they from books, movies, TV shows, ads, art, music, fashion, architecture, graphic design, industrial design, or other forms of pop culture. 

Therefore, it’s absolutely critical that you don’t let the pace of school, or work, or life consume your schedule so much that you can’t make room for creative inspiration. Not just from advertising and design industry magazines, blogs, and websites (as I highlighted in an earlier post), but also from the greater world of imagination. 

We’re lucky that we live in a digital age where a plethora of great (and uh, not-so-great) entertainment and creativity is right in the palm of our hands via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming services. But don’t make the mistake of letting that, and say Spotify, be your sole sources for inspiration. 

Get out and really mix it up. Live a life where you absorb all kinds of diverse experiences. Stroll through a park. Have an adventure at the zoo. Watch an IMAX premiere. Drop by an art festival. Catch the latest exhibit at the museum. Explore local art galleries. Jam out at a music festival. Of course, there’s also endless inspiration you can soak up for free. Listen to a podcast on creativity. Sample a different style of music. Watch a documentary. Check out a few Ted Talks online. Or spend a lazy Sunday afternoon at Barnes & Noble (yeah, they’re still around) flipping through magazines and leafing through a bounty of books. Inspiration can and should come from all kinds of random sources. 

However inspiration finds its way into your head, it’ll eventually find a way into your work. Sometimes you can see the direct correlation in your creativity. Sometimes it’s more subtle. But trust me, it’s there. If you want to enjoy a prolific creative career, your work needs to exude surprise, variety, and freshness. That only comes from being exposed to a broad, fascinating array of inspiration. 

As the esteemed Sir John Hegarty (co-founder of BBH) so succinctly phrased it, “Do interesting things and interesting things will happen to you.”