As creatives we thrive off of inspiration. We pull inspiration from all that surround us - nature, music, other people's art, films, photography etc, etc.
But is there such a thing as too much inspiration? Such a thing as killing yourself creatively?
Personally I think that there is.
What happens when you find a cool thing that inspires you? You generally seek after it and push your art in that direction. But what if you swarm yourself with so much inspiration that you end up falling down a rabbit hole of only that one thing?
You get burnt out.
I know that this is definitely true in my life and my art.
I get so focused on that trend, piece of music, element of nature, artist's work etc. and I fill my head with so much of it, and then I compare my work to those who are doing that thing to the point where I don't even want to create things anymore. I'm not good enough to make those things. I'm out.
Seems kind of sad and bleak yes?
Well it is both of those things.
and one more thing too.
It's incredibly uncreative and unproductive for someone who makes things for a living.
So how do we avoid this?
Well, there are a few ways. The first and foremost way is to
STOP LOOKING SO FREAKING HARD FOR INSPIRATION ALL THE TIME. PLEASE.
Being inspired is important, yes. But so is looking at your work objectively (not comparing) and seeing in what ways that you can refine and improve. What will take you from 90-95% at "good" to 100% at "great"? (to quote Musicbed) Figure those things out. Hone in on them, and eliminate them. Sometimes it helps to make a physical list of things that you can scratch out when they are complete. (It's way more satisfying. Like angrily closing a flip phone vs. smashing a digital button with your thumb)
For me one of those things that I can improve on is working with artificial light in my work. I hate using artificial light most of the time. It's usually either too cold or too warm, too sharp, and it can be quite hard to direct properly. But I am going to be spending the next few weeks learning how to use it well and nail down where I struggle with it. (Let me know in the comments if you'd like a blog post about my artificial light adventures)
One way to reduce the comparison issue is to just unfollow the people that you compare yourself to for a little while. Not forever though. I've heard this from several other photographers and artists (sorry I can't remember exactly who at the moment for reference). If you find that you are beating yourself up for not being as experienced, as talented, as creative, etc as someone, then stop following that someone. It has helped me a lot in the past to do this. It just frees up your mind from being like, *scrolls through Facebook/IG/Pintrest/Tumblr* *sees amazing picture from super talented human* "wow I am a terrible artist. I will never be this good" *continues scrolling while still silently comparing self to other person*.
The quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal" has been passed around the creative circles pretty much forever. And while it is true, it is only true to a certain point.
It's good to steal concepts, technical aspects, and some creative methods. But please don't steal directly from that person or try to copy them. Cuz that's piracy and/or plagiarism which is totally no bueno. :P But in all seriousness, don't do it because because that is just another opportunity to compare yourself. "If only I could just compose a shot like so-and-so I'll finally be good enough".
stAHP DoINg THaT PLeASe
To paraphrase Ryan Booth because I can't remember the artists he referenced,
You will never be Wes Anderson. Only Wes Anderson can be Wes Anderson.
You will never be Pablo Picasso. Only Picasso can be Picasso.
But Anderson and Picasso can never be you. Only you can be you. Your style is the conglomeration of all of your experiences, thoughts, feelings, and what you surround yourself with. No one can replicate that.
So there you go! Some ways to stay inspired, but not back yourself into a corner and kill yourself creatively with that inspiration.
How do you get inspired? Have you ever struggled with these issues before? I'd love to talk with you about it in the comments below!