Inspiration is for the Birds
The other morning I read a post by Andy Rutledge on his blog Design View titled, “On Inspiration.” Since the tagline of Creative Perch is “Inspiring Creativity and Encouraging Innovation,” I thought I’d read up.
Let me first say this. Andy doesn’t post every day, but when he does post, it’s full of meat. His Gestalt Principles series is something I have to work through bite by bite. On Inspiration was no different, except that I found it incredibly engaging and couldn’t stop reading. I did pause frequently with the words, “Now, wait a minute…” on the tip of my tongue, only to discover that what he had to say was so true.
My toes got stepped on big time, and after I finished reading, I found I had a lot to think about.
Andy’s post is titled, “On Inspiration,” but really it should be “Inspiration: Forget About It,” or “The Myth of Creative Inspiration.” Maybe I’m being dramatic, but Andy does more than downplay inspiration and its role in the creative/design process. He calls it unnecessary.
Before you object (like I did), read this excerpt:
Doing professional work shouldn’t require that we constantly invoke some supernatural explanation for the source of our craft. We’re not sorcerers, for Pete’s sake. We’re just designers. Design is art and craft and skill and concept and execution …fueled by paying attention to things other people ignore or cannot grasp. We don’t have to imply that we graduated from Hogwart’s in order to explain what we produce. And if we’re any good, we don’t require inspiration either.
Truly, inspiration is entirely unnecessary in our work. Oh, it does a doozy on those rare occasions, but if we staked our livelihoods and our clients’ fortunes on the condition of our being truly inspired, we would all of us go bankrupt.
And then there’s this:
When it comes to inspiration, we designers can be excruciatingly expert at hyperbole. We cite inspiration regularly, but despite our many, repetitive, flippant claims we seldom actually meet with it. What we’re talking about in almost every case is nothing more than simple motivation.
So what I’ve concluded is this:
- Neither inspiration or motivation is required… but they make the work more enjoyable.
- Inspiration is truly divine… it cannot be conjured. However, it can be courted.
- Motivation helps… but for designers it comes down to skills, observation, and work ethic. (This is where resources, maintaining a creative arsenal, and trendwatching come in.)
A New Set of Questions
Andy’s post really made me think about my own work ethic and approach to design, and it made me reconsider the ideas I present here on Creative Perch each day. I cannot promise inspiration, but I am dedicated to getting the ball rolling. So, I have a new set of questions for you:
- How do you stay motivated?
- When have you felt inspired?
I’m particularly curious about the idea that inspiration most easily comes to us when we are not focused on ourselves. Do you think that’s true?