On Collecting Your Input

Inspiration is everywhere.

It’s in obvious places like art museums, galleries, books, music, and well-curated events. And it’s in less obvious places, that differ vastly based on the individual. For me, it’s in the natural patterns of our Mother Earth – cloud formations, uncommon foliage, minerals, the arrangement of light, animals – it’s in the colors and textures of the fabrics lining the shelves in my favorite stores (hello, TJ Maxx); in Eyal from Muzli, one of many design inspo blogs that I follow; it’s in the stories I read; the feelings that consume me…

Much of our inspiration comes from the external world, from our experiences – and like we’ve talked about a little bit already, it’s all a matter of filtering it. Which, is part of our job as artists, and as human beings.

Artists, and other creatives, tend to see patterns and connections in places that others aren’t looking – this is the very basis of creativity – which might sound special (and admittedly, sometimes it feels that way) but I firmly believe that any one can practice and hone their creative muscles, and brainstorm creatively.

All children are born artists. The problem is how to remain artists as we grow up.
-Pablo Picasso

How? You need two things:

  • The ability to open your mind and heart to the experiences of this world
  • and a means of collecting the information you find there.

This is where the wonderful and preferred sketchbook comes into the fold.

There are many ways to capture inspiration (thoughts, ideas, feelings, stories, imagery, etc.) but none are quite as revered by artists as the sketchbook.

Keeping your inner workings – your responses to external stimulation – in a sketchbook is almost like writing the story of your soul. It’s a means of keeping powerful information that you may otherwise forget. And, if you’re like me – you usually can’t even remember what you had for breakfast yesterday. So it’s pretty useful.

However, keeping all of that information isn’t even the most important part – nope – revisiting the information, reconsidering your ideas, connecting the dots – that’s where the magic happens.

That’s where the brainstorming starts. Taking time to come back to your ideas is a major key in developing them into your creative practice.

When you want to brainstorm for a piece of writing or a presentation, you generally start broad, and get specific. Brainstorming and thinking through your next work of art is no different.

All of those things you’re collecting in your sketchbook, those are the broad ideas that have, at the very least, gained your interest. Getting specific requires revisiting. For instance – I save A LOT (a lotttt) of images on my hard drive, in my cell phone, in my sketchbook, clipped out of a magazines and in an actual pile in a box… but until I filter them through a theme/lens, let’s say “world violence” or “family trauma” or “why humans like collecting”, they might not mean much.

Think about it like this: You’re trying to work out why there is so much violence in the world (this is your question, it bothers you, maybe it rattles you at your very core – I know it rattles me) – so you start looking through your notes, your images, your ideas, seeking an answer that resonates with you. And maybe you find an answer by finding a connection between an erupting volcano and a hoard of sheep – and you go from there.

You keep doing, you keep delving and asking ‘why’ and you will find connections where you didn’t see them before.


A while back, I took notice of my own interest in collecting things, and not just my ideas and little compositions in a sketchbook. I realized that I collect a lot of things – fortune cookie fortunes, lighters, bottle caps, wine corks, notebooks, crystals, Game of Thrones memorabilia – and I became interested in the human fascination with collecting things. Among many conclusions, I found that collecting plays a large part in storytelling and history. All while I was exploring these ideas, I kept everything in my sketchbook.

And then I just let it go for while. I didn’t think about it again.

Until eventually, I returned to my notes mid-last-year to take those ideas and start a body of work.

When it comes right down to it – getting creative, being an artist, means sharing your Truth with the world. But you have to work through what that means for you. You have to do a lot of thinking, a lot of digging, a lot of brainstorming. You have to ask a lot of uncomfortable questions. But the reward is there! You get to shed light on that things that matter to you and raise awareness to the causes you care about. Allowing yourself to get creative means bearing your soul to the world.

What will you be sharing?

Love & Light,



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