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December 6th, 2009 #1
My white trash method for finding inspiration.
This is a method that I've been screwing around with lately and I was wondering what you guys think.
When I can't think of anything to draw, I type random stuff into Google Images to find interesting pictures. Usually it's a first name, sometimes a verb, sometimes even short, random assortments of letters. My theory behind this is that I've seen a lot of pictures marked with random things that mean something to someone somewhere, and while I wouldn't recommend this to beginners or for a finished work, I've created some cool sketches from it.
What I'm getting at is the whole random image trawling thing. I've found many more interesting sources of reference when I have no idea what I'm looking for as opposed to when I'm looking for something specific.
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It's easier to see when you aren't trying so hard looking.
Good method. I've taken this same process into real life applications - purposefully driving somewhere random that I've never been before and studying it, drawing it, going out of my way without a destination, but a journey instead. The time in between departure and arrival always yields the most interesting results.
December 6th, 2009 #3Registered User
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I look for faces and creatures in rocks, tree bark, leaf arrangements and spit splatters. I don't know if it's just me but I see some craaazy shit.. There's tons of ways to look at things, observing all angles always inspires something new.
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December 6th, 2009 #4
If I'm strapped for ideas I'll take a marker/brush pen and start making fake Chinese caligraphy. Of course, none of it actually means anything in Chinese or any other language, but it forces me to at least pick up a tool and move it on a paper, and causes me to stop analyzing everything I'm doing (sometimes I think that artist block is a failure to relax and let the mind wander) afterward I have a bunch of quick random looking squiggles and shapes.
I have recently taken to doing this with a 30% to 50% graytone marker, that way I can easily go in with a darker marker and start finding form within the squiggles and shapes, then go in with a fine line black pen and work out the details.
I don't think I'm the 1st person to work like this, I'm actually fairly certain it is similar to the common trick of finding silhouette forms that Ive seen from many other artists, including those well known from gnomon videos and my Alma Mater of ACCD, however, I've only seen it used as a way of generating ideas when the artit already knows what thy ill be drawing; not as a way to kickstart the artistic process when someone would otherwise be drawing a blank.
December 6th, 2009 #5Registered User
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hey instead of trying to find something random on the internet why dont you go out let random inspirations come to you? Im sure when you go out (even in your own backyard), if you pay attention to your surroundings and people, you will find plenty of inspirational stuff.
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December 6th, 2009 #6
December 7th, 2009 #7
I take inspiration from my dreams. My brain comes up with the craziest crap. Just some days ago it showed me a literal catfish - a cat's head stuck on a fish's body.
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December 7th, 2009 #8Registered User
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December 7th, 2009 #9
December 7th, 2009 #10
@Ryan, we can trade - you can have my weird creatures and I can have your weird stories. ;D
@Raoul, I wish my brain would tell me that. I think it's thinking too much about things other than art.
December 7th, 2009 #11
Something I've filled up pages in my sketchbook doing recently is just quickly and lightly scribbling some shapes, all piled up on top of each other, sort of semi-randomly. I'll usually have a specific kind of shape in mind like triangles, or big loops. I'll pile 3 or 4 of these shapes on top of each other, then trace the outline with a heavier pencil or pen. Suddenly the silhouettes look like they could be all sorts of things, guns, creatures, spaceships, etc. It's really fun, and if you don't have anything specific in mind can be a great exploratory/experimental thing to try out. The key is to not get too intentional with the shapes, and to keep it down to 3 or 4 shapes...beyond that and it starts to get too messy to really see much in. I've been meaning to scan some of the pages of the doodles I've done, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
Ia Ia Cthulhu Fthagn
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December 7th, 2009 #12
December 7th, 2009 #13Registered User
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I think your "catfish" inspired that haha. Thanks.
Last edited by Ryan K; December 7th, 2009 at 07:37 PM.
December 7th, 2009 #14
December 7th, 2009 #15
December 7th, 2009 #16
I dream of very literal things, and it sucks. I usually have more elaborate environments in my dreams than anything else. I have weird medical dreams often.
So let's see...
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December 8th, 2009 #17
Dreams are awesome, it's just a shame that I can't recreate that stuff yet.
Dreams can really stretch itself to full directive capacity, I mean that's it's job, it knows all the stuff that effects you. I believe that part of dreaming is maintanance, so on a soul level sometimes you get these fantacy dreams that really gives you a whack with all that stuff that don't want to make you wake up. But it has to do that otherwise some people would commit suicide because of a lack of fascination.
If you ponder around movie or even writing and books and the way the mind process narrative dreams usually go ballistic giving you some exploration into the structures of experience.
Last edited by George Abraham; December 8th, 2009 at 08:53 AM.----------------------------------
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December 11th, 2009 #18
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December 11th, 2009 #19
My method of inspiration: take off glasses, squint, redefine blurry shapes >>> imaginary world!
Well, that works sometimes.
December 14th, 2009 #20
Jeez, my dreams are so mundane compared to you guys. They're nothing thrilling at all like that and I never see creatures or faces (I'm sure some psychologist would love to analyze that).
I like Peter Coene's method with the squiggles and face caligrophy. That's how I mostly draw. I always have a sheet of paper in front of me on my desk, for quick notes, numbers, and other things I need. Then, when utterly bored, I start drawing and doodling. Most of the time they're shapes until they mold into something. Then sometimes I have to draw it! The collection of these types of papers around my desk is massive, and I try to use up every corner of space on both sides until its nothing short of a scribble fest.
December 14th, 2009 #21
I frequently browse the dictionary for random ideas...when your mind is completely blank, a dictionary is a good way to get some content to your thoughts. And before you know it, your mind starts to make connections between different words and ideas, and you start to create much more easily. I've never heard of anyone else using this method, but it does work for me...
December 16th, 2009 #22
Hmm, my friend's hobby is luckily story telling, and so we play D&D and he just improvises insanity while i visualise it. As long as i keep feeding him narcotics, he'll do magic and i have an inspiration machine. I found out that jiving with someone else and bouncing around ideas that involve characters, settings etc, is quite an abundant source of inspiration.. I don't even have anough time to realise all the cool ideas i've got inspired with.
December 16th, 2009 #23Registered User
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December 16th, 2009 #24
Yeah well it will kill him eventually...damn, now i feel bad.
April 15th, 2010 #25
That's a fantastic question..whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiich you might find hard finding a solid answer to. Everyone seems to have their own approach to finding ideas, albeit photo refs, writing, observation of life etc...my attempts to give you a visual on that answer might seem long in writing, but I feel that the thought process behind creative inspiration and creation is more important than the facts.
There are only a few physical things in life that have left an impression on me:
1) Richard Williams and George Carlin made a similar statement in their own ways: "Never take the spontaneous thought for granted"
Your best friend as an artist are the "little" thoughts that you have during the day that spark your imagination. I find that I often have these little moments when I'm joking around with funny, creative or flat-out verbal friends. Sitting down having a coffee and yapping about stuff that you love talking about.
Don't just let them fade away as passing thoughts..keep note of them, either mentally or on paper. Many famous artists were known to mention that they walked around with a little book all the time. Whenever one of those thoughts occurred, they wrote it down well enough to remind themselves of what inspired them originally.
The added benefit to this practice is the fact that spontaneous thoughts are well...spontaneous! They're moments that leave a small or large impact on your mind. That is ultimately what art is..it's hitting people with little moments that that leave an impression. What makes you different than let's say...an accountant, is the fact that these little thoughts have a great deal more importance and value to you. You LOVE nerding out over easily overlooked moments in life that others couldn't care less about. Furthermore, you can MAKE something out of it..something meaningful, beautiful and eternal...so don't lose sight of that!!
George Carlin said in one of his stand-up skits: "My job is to think up goofy sh..t. Think up goofy sh--t or remind you of things that you've all known and experienced, but forgot to laugh at the first time they happened". He then goes on a rant for 2 hours about stuff "we all have in common" that kept people laughing hysterically.
Both artists and comedians have a similar thought process. We're observers of life. (which is why I call comedians "artists"). We see the same things that everyone else sees...however, we have that little gift of being able to combine and warp these thoughts mentally to create something original and interesting. It's not more complicated than that.
2) You can find a great 2hr conference with the top Pixar brass on youtube:
During that conference, Brad Bird makes an awesome statement. He says "the process of creation isn't usually - creating something from scratch - rather - making a mistake and fixing it"
I love that statement, because it takes all the edge off "getting it right the first shot - if it doesn't work immediately, you've failed"
He goes on to say "The way we think is - QUICK, WE HAVE TO GET A MISTAKE OUT FAST SO WE CAN FIX IT!"
Your approach to creating a new idea isn't to stare at a blank page and hope that something manifests itself from thin air. GET SOMETHING DOWN, and move it around, play with it, until the subject starts to take shape. You have plenty of time to fix it up and make it suit your tastes...but get something down on paper first.
To add to that statement, people put too much emphasis on the "beginnings" of a project, and the word "fix" loses it's importance. To be honest, I would say that the "fixing" of a work is the major and most important part. That's the evolution of your imagination into a piece that has meaning.
If you want to coin a phrase out of this...before you call yourself and "artist", call yourself a "thought repairer". You take broken thoughts and weld them together into a solid structure. If someone asks what you do you tell them "I collect miniature unimportant thoughts and fit them together into things that nobody ever thought of but realize they like".
3) Brad Bird makes another important statement (reflecting of course the opinion of the creative Pixar team): "DON'T GET REFERENCE FROM OTHER ARTISTS ARTWORK!"
Great artistic pieces seldom come from the inspiration of other works of art. Great works come from real life. Back in the days before internet and TV, artists only had real life as their reference. As such, real life came out of their art...and of course, their original interpretation of it, be it dark, funny, thoughtful, romantic or whatever...that was their artistic licence.
That's not to mean that you can't "learn" from other works of art..but separate your 'learning' time from your 'production' time. Today I'm studying a painting by William Bouguereau...so I'm going to focus on his use of value, color etc... But on the days that you decide to do your own work, stay away from strong visual reference, because you'll find that it only distracts you from your own work.
If you tie this in with the subject of visual reference material - I would encourage you to only look up visual reference to solve singular trouble areas in your work. If you're trying to figure out how brushed metal catches light, then look up brushed metal...but don't try and copy the way another artist painted metal pauldrons...you'll just end up feeling disappointed with the fact that yours doesn't look as good as theirs.
The moral to this story is:
Keep your mind and hands loose when creating. Grab spontaneous moments in life and make mental notes of them. As an artist, these moments can conjure themselves from ANYTHING..from a leaf of soggy lettuce stuck to the inside of a bowl to something you heard someone said on TV. They take shape in your mind your own way, which is your golden ticket to original ideas and creations.
Once you sit down to draw, DO NOT sit in front of a white page (or screen) and wonder for 3 hours how to make your image come to life. Dirty up your page with lines, shapes, colors, THEN sculpt them into something that best represents your thoughts. If a shape or line veers you off track into something slightly different, ride the wave. Art has a wonderful way of taking you on journeys to locations that you didn't foresee.
**As an important note - the above statement shouldn't be confused with a common artistic practice which is "find the shapes in the clouds" type of approach. I'm not specifically telling you to "make random scribbles and try and try and find a sexy chick in there somewhere". When you scratch out your idea, have a goal in mind...you're trying to capture your thoughts..if you go too random with your marks on the page, you'll distance yourself too much from your own imagination. Your marks should have purpose - but don't expect them to make perfect sense the first time you draw them out...that's the message I'm sharing with you with***
Once that image starts taking shape, refer back to your mental image bank (which btw isn't as big a deal to develop as many people put on - because it's already there, you just need to know how to tap into it) to critique your own work. Be a brutal critic of your own work. Having an artistic eye, you know what looks good and what doesn't. If something is rubbing you the wrong way, keep working it until it does. If anything sticks in your craw, it will forever taint your opinion of your own work. Perfection is the only thing you'll eternally be proud of. (So fix that damn hand already because the fingers are too short!)
That being said, don't EVER expect to get the "magic answer" to that question, because the creative process is as organic as life itself. You have to respect that fact and treat it as such. Trying to turn art into fact is a fools errand..and treating the creation of a piece of artwork the same way you assemble a piece of IKEA furniture is equally foolish.
Think of it this way...nothing in nature (like a tree or bush) has a pre-determined path of growth. Many factors come into play during its evolution. The direction of the sun, the terrain that it sits on etc...all slowly redirect the tree into the twisted structure it eventually becomes.
Ultimately - trust your own mind! You won't become great by "becoming better at something that someone else did", greatness comes from your ability to understand, respect and execute your own thoughts...YOUR OWN WAY!
But always keep an open mind to the help of others...otherwise just scrap everything I just said
April 15th, 2010 #26
Wow Adam that's a good first batch of posts!
I agree, I find that I have the most fun when coming up with ideas when I'm with another creative person. You can feed off of eachother. For instance a few days ago I was speaking with Grandmassa Mr. Spect and there was some talk about dancing, which somehow turned in to me pimping him out to people who wanted to watch salsa dancing, which I'm not even sure what happened but turned in to an ass grabbing monster. Now, said monster is completely random and we both decided to draw one. Our takes are completely different which makes it even more fun.
There was another time when a friend and I were talking crap as well and we came up with this entire theory that the reason one sock always disappears is because there are gremlins which steal them and feed them to the dryer. The dryer takes them as an offering and there was some strange ritualistic system.
I mean it's all nonsense but it's funny and gets you thinking. I also like to go wander around and people watch. People watching is one of the most inspiring things I can do. You hear snippets of conversation, see so many facial expressions and shapes. And if you start to create stories for people walking by. Why they look sad, why they are dressed the way they are. It's fun and for me inspires.
Sorry for the ramble wanted to share my methods!
April 15th, 2010 #27
Never had to find inspirarion.
Always was inspired to become more proficient at my craft, so looking for ways on 'how' was always key. Looking at the work of those who's work I enjoyed and wound up studying from was enough.
I've a NICE library of books and various subjects and artists.
My SketchBook http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=139784
http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...d.php?t=192127"Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."-John Huston, Director
April 15th, 2010 #28
Wonderful ideas here. And my clients always delight me with their ideas as well.
As Ardescoere says people watching is the best for me anyway. What I do it take it one step further. Watch a person sitting at a coffee table, or wherever, and then imagine what that person is thinking. Are they waiting for someone or something, had a wonderful moment just occurred for them or are they dreaming of their lover. Another way is to see a planeload or bus-load of people and imagine of every emotion going on in that package of people all jammed togther. Some will be going home to a dreary existence, others will be dreading seeing the monster who bullies them but who they will not walk away from, another will be going to a funeral, others a wedding, others to some god awful business meeting which they know will bore them stupid but they will go anyway because it pays the bills, others will be just about popping with excitement waiting to see an old friend or new lover, others to the wonder of a whole new life in a new land. What this does is pull you the artist away from your own thoughts and into a realm of total make believe as really we have no idea of what is actually happening in these peoples minds. But it is the kaleidoscope of longing, dreading, horror, delight, yearning and sheer joy of living that makes it so interesting.
For those amongst us who love monsters, check out insects or the tiny denizens found in a pond or in ocean pools. Most of those are truly horrifying! For instance check out the dragonfly larvae!
Finally "see" everything as shapes, colours and functions and keep yourself amazed at what is around us.
April 16th, 2010 #29
I like to get a blue ball point pen, get a piece of used or blank printer paper, divide it into 8 squares, put pen to paper, close my eyes, and just scribble mindlessly (and sightlessly) on the paper for about ten seconds, quickly move to the next square and do it again and so on til lall the squares are filled up, then i go over it in a different color and just start picking out shapes, turning the paper this way and that to get all I can out of the randomness.
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