Where Does Inspiration Come From?

This week on the blog, instead of sharing a free pattern, I thought I’d talk briefly about inspiration for patterns. And, more broadly, inspiration for art and creativity in general. It’s a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, because I’ve felt particularly uninspired for a while, and I haven’t done a lot of designing because of that.

Inspiration can come from virtually anything in your life – the color of the sky on your morning walk, the feeling of a cozy sweatshirt in the fall, you name it! Many people gravitate to certain categories as sources of inspiration, such as nature or family and heritage. These larger, commonly-seen categories resonate with many for a reason: they are evocative of the idea that we are all a part of something bigger. When you put it that way, it’s no wonder that something like the ocean would be so inspirational for so many people!

But I also think that it’s important to remember that you don’t have to draw inspiration from these broader categories. Anything can give you inspiration. In fact, both positive and negative experiences in your life can give equal amounts of inspiration (I’ll have more on this in a minute). Every moment you’ve lived has left an impression on you, and had its impact on your life. Every single emotion you’ve felt over the course of your time on this planet has shaped you into the person you are today. Likewise, those emotions and experiences will actually shape future decisions you make – this is because with each life event, no matter how mundane or exciting, gives you new knowledge and makes you think about things differently. For this reason, you could be given inspiration from the birth of a niece or nephew, or from a feeling of sadness from a close friend moving to a new state. Life itself is inspiration.

What’s more, even if you are inspired by a common human experience, like the feeling of ocean waves breaking against you, the exact way you are inspired will differ from the person next to you, even though you are experiencing the same thing. This is because you’ve each had a unique life, that has shaped you into different people. So, the way you interpret your spark of inspiration will differ. That’s why there are so many different artistic interpretations of the same world monuments, like the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower. And how many love songs are in existence now? Each one talks about the same emotion, but in a different way. Each piece of art, knitwear, or music, is completely original, even if the inspiration came from the same place.

You might ask, What could I possibly do with inspiration from a negative experience? Everything you’ve mentioned here has been a positive or pleasant life event or feeling. In this instance, I’d challenge you to think about famous paintings that depict unpleasant events, like war or death. The paintings inspired by these events are each beautiful in their own way, and the act of creation a cathartic act for the creator, a way of interpreting and understanding the pain being felt by the artist.

Similarly, this fall, I will be releasing a series of patterns, a few of which have been inspired by my struggle with seasonal affective disorder. My intention with these designs is to create something cozy and comforting for the times of year when I usually feel sadder, more anxious, or generally unlike myself. For me, these new designs are my way of trying to make peace with this part of myself that I will always live with. Drawing inspiration from negative things in life can be an act of healing, a way to teach others, or an attempt to present a solution to a problem you’ve encountered. Any many times, these pieces are the ones that resonate with others the most.

I challenge you to ruminate on where you draw your own inspiration from – you might make some interesting connections that can themselves ignite a creative spark within you. Once you’ve noticed the things that are a consistent source of inspiration for you, you may find that the inspiration itself comes more easily. Or maybe, you will suddenly be able to picture that scarf you’ve been wanting to design, but couldn’t figure out before. Inspiration can come from anywhere and the result will be unique to you, because you are unique. So go ahead, sketch that tree in your backyard that you love to look at from your back porch. Or knit that blanket you imagine wrapping yourself in on sadder days. The act of creating and expressing yourself artistically is always a worthwhile endeavor, and one that will bring you healing and happiness.

Not sure where to start with your latest project? Check out these tips for finding inspiration or read about how to overcome artist’s block.

Have you own story about finding inspiration? Leave a comment below and share your perspective!

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