I love the feeling of receiving inspiration. For me, inspiration often hits as a sudden image or idea in my mind. Like divine inspiration zapped in from some unknown source.
However, when I think of the moments before I receive inspiration, there are things I have done to prompt that very inspiration. Here are the 8 things that help me:
1) Read Interesting Material
The majority of times that I receive inspiration are when I'm listening to the radio, reading a book, or looking at things on the internet. I'm not actively searching for inspiration, just reading and listening to things that interest me. Inspiration and ideas inevitably pop into my mind from the random things I read and hear.
2) Record Dreams
One of my favoirte paintings was based on a scene I saw in a dream. My dreams are full of imagination and creativity, but I often forget them. I find that if I write them down, I can go back to them when looking for inspiration.
3) Actively Brainstorm
Sometimes I have a tiny idea and I'm not sure where to take it. I then sit down and brainstorm how I could flesh that idea out. I make sketches of any related ideas. The process of actively thinking about it usually brings other ideas flowing in.
When I know the exact kind of inspiration I need, I often find it helpful to research on the internet. For example, I'm currently creating a coloring book about odd animal couples in love. To help me come up with illustration ideas, I researched "romantic dates" on the internet. This filled me with plenty of ideas.
5) Reflect on Life Experiences
Through reflecting on topics that are important to me, humorous events, or pivotal moments in my life, I receive ideas for a future projects. For example, I wanted to do a new painting series. I reflected on my life and decided to do a series of paintings about moments in my life that continue to resonate with me.
6) Make a Gift
My first published book, "Grief is a Mess," was orginally a gift for my mother. I made her a small cartoon book about the many stages of grief we experienced. It was easy to come up with the cartoon book because I knew what would make her laugh. I later took that book and made it appropriate for a larger audience. Many of my projects originated as gifts that I made for others. Through making something for a specific person, I can think about him or her and what they might like. Because I then have an extremely narrow target audience, I can come up with an idea.
7) Call a Friend
Whenever I have a general idea and need help flushing it out, I call my siblings for their opinions. They always have creative tidbits to add. In other instances, I have shown sketches to friends for suggestions of more ideas or improvements.
8) Look Through Past Ideas
I keep a book full of random ideas that come to me (you can see a video about how I organize my ideas here). I return to this book of ideas whenever I need inspiration. I also look through previous sketch books and pieces of art I made to see if there any ideas I can develop into a book or series.
Through doing these 8 things, inspiration seems to come naturally. Choosing which inspiration to act on and bring to fruition then becomes the hard task - but I'll save that for another blog post.