“Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” Grace Coddington, Creative Director for American Vogue
At the beginning of your creative career, it’s lovely to fantasize that inspiration will strike your pen / paintbrush / touch screen like a lightning bolt, and use you, the artist, as a conduit for the highest artistic creation. An hour later you come to, sweaty and discombobulated, and find that a work of staggering genius has pretty much created itself. Or maybe you’d like to imagine having a perennial muse perched on a chaise lounge in your mind, dictating a golden stream of bajillion-dollar ideas in an intoxicating drawl, and all you have to do is keep up and write them down.
Sadly, as most creatives who’ve completed at least one brief will confirm, this isn’t the case. To paraphrase Jack London: “you can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”.
So, how do tempt your creative genius out of hiding? How do you light your creative spark? We want to hear how you find inspiration, and what you turn it into.
Has your neighbours’ cat inspired a range of sculptures (life-size or otherwise)?
Have you ever written a song about a piece of furniture?
Does people-watching prompt your poetry?
We want to hear about it! Submit to our open brief today!
First, let’s take a look at how some of our favourite creatives seek inspiration for their work…
1. Artist Reyna Pelcastre
Work: The Hawk’s Kiss
Inspiration: DC Comics and Gustav Klimt
Pelcastre’s winning work for a Talenthouse brief combines her twin obsessions – fine art and comics. As well as taing inspiration from the pose and positions of the couple in 'The Kiss', Pelcastre based her creation on the colour yellow, resulting in a Klimt / DC crossover that pops off the screen.
2. Artist: UUfie
It’s hard to imagine anything ‘inspired by nature’ that isn’t a shampoo, but inspiration, like nature itself, is abundant. And why should furniture designers be any different? Constructed from a single piece of acrylic, this opulent, elegant chair fans out like a peacock’s feathers in a fairly obvious (yet beautiful) 'saw this so made this' creation.
3. Artist: Alireza Karimi Moghaddam
Work: Illustrated series charting the life and times of Vincent Van Gough.
Inspiration: The art of Van Gough.
Like countless artists before him, Moghaddam was captivated by the multi-faceted art of one of the 19th century’s most prolific artists, Van Gough. And like many before him, he found himself equally stirred by the tragic life story of the grandfather of tortured artists. This inspired him to create cartoon vignettes featuring Van Gough at the times and in the places where we created some of his most beloved artworks – rowing under a starry sky, carrying a bouquet of sunflowers, or gazing across the Parisian skyline.
4. Artist: Bobby Baker
Work: Bloody loads, mate.
Baker has worked for over 35 years, primarily exploring feminism and family dynamics through food. In her cooking demonstrations she created such unique delights as baked antlers (to improve self-esteem) and a bread skirt for ballroom dancing.
In How to Live Baker holds an open ‘therapy session’ with a frozen pea which has been diagnosed with a personality disorder. Over the course of the session the pea unfreezes as it learns new life skills to cope with its problems. Bonkers. Brilliant. Unforgettable.
5. Artist: Shona MacNaughton
Work: Progressive (performance art piece)
Inspiration: Baby Box
In Scotland, every baby is welcomed into the world with a box full of clothes, bedding and other essentials to help give them the best start in life (the box itself can be padded and used as a baby bed if required). Performance artist Shona Macnaughton used this box as inspiration for a tour of her home city, and used as a podium to read poems about gentrification, regeneration, pregnancy and motherhood. You can listen to a recording of it here.
6. Artist: Alt J
Inspiration: Last Exit to Brooklyn - novel by Hubert Selby Jr.
Alt J’s Fitzpleasure was arguably the soundtrack of the 2010s, but that tra-la-la chorus has a darker inspiration. It’s based on a scene in Hubert Selby Jr’s novel – which was banned in the UK and Italy under obscenity laws - which details a grotesque act of violence. The song and the album received rave reviews. Taro is inspired by the death of war photographers Robert Capa and Gurda Taro. Matilda is based on the flm Leon, and Breezeblocks is based on the children’s book where the wild things are.
And of course…
7. Artist: Marcel Duchamp
Inspiration: Urinal (found object)
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The most well-known - and maybe well-loved - example of art made from found objects. Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain scandalised the art establishment by testing the boundaries of taste, tolerance, and freedom of expression.
Bonus fact: Ekphrasis is the name of the mechanism we’re talking about here - art inspired by art, one artistic medium borrowing from another – not duplicating it or merely describing it - to create something entirely new.
It’s a technique that dates back to Homer’s Odyssey, which contains an ode to Achilles’ shield. The shield is a piece of art, which then inspired the Greek epic.
Another corking example is W.H. Auden’s Musée Des Beaux Arts, a poem about a painting, Brueghel’s Icarus. Rather than merely describing the artwork, Auden uses it as a medium to explore humankind’s indifference to the suffering of humankind, even when the human in question literally falls from the sky.
We can’t wait to see your fan-ekphrastic (sorry) submissions! And while you’re about it, find out more about joining the biggest global network for creatives, and getting all the juiciest briefs, right here at Talenthouse.
Tell us what you think!