In the past few months I’ve done a few interviews with some blogs and online journals and the question “What inspires you” seems to be the most commonly asked question. I wish that I had a simple enough answer, but I find that much like other areas of my life, it’s a theme that doesn’t have a particularly concrete answer. I would say that at least once a day I ask myself that very question; “Where does my inspiration come from?”
Sometimes I think that the answer could be as simple as “the World!” or “my imagination!” But it’s more than that, sure I’m inspired by nature but trees and water call out more to me than rocks and squirrels do. It’s broad at times but it’s also equally specific, if that makes sense.
Yesterday while walking through the forest, a place that does tend to spark my imagination and inspiration, I was thinking about this very topic and trying to form a solid answer. I’m inspired by both the ideas of reality and how we can bend it. I’m inspired by taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary. Take for instance, a coffee mug. On it’s own it’s a coffee mug, a recognizable shape and size but what if you make it HUGE, or what if you have 200 of them rather than one or two, or what if you make it fly or float or balance in a stack that looks like one breath will knock it over. The idea of something so normal being seen in a way that seems impossible inspires me, it’s like being a magician or an illusionist.
Aside from creating those impossible possibilities, nature does inspire me. I’m fortunate to live in an area of the world that provides me with an almost endless expanse of trees, mountains, lakes, fields, and every size of animal from mouse to grizzly bear. Growing up in this environment has given me a deep respect for nature and the natural world around me and has now provided me with the opportunity to incoporate itself into my work. If photography is my art form, the natural world would be my canvas. There are few things more beautiful to me than an open field with a wide view in the background, these spaces inspire me to fill them with imagery. Like a dancer wants to fill a stage with movement, I want to fill these natural stages with art, even if it is temporary or digital.
Another inspiration for me is popular culture, not so much in the broad sense but certain parts of it. I like taking something like the Harry Potter books or Kermit the Frog and finding a way to interpret them in my own way, putting them into my life or me into their world. It makes it seem like the line between reality and fantasy doesn’t exist. For as long as I can remember I’ve been a HUGE fan of all things Disney (when I was a kid and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always ‘a disney animator’) and I love being able to take the imagery from those films and incorporate them into my life. For me it’s like taking a recipe and adding a few different ingredients to turn into something just a little bit different, it’s a new way to see something that already exists. I think people like Walt Disney and Jim Henson are good examples of artists liked to blur the line between reality and fantasy.
Inspiration is something that constantly evolves, what inspires you one day might not inspire you the next. You may walk past the same tree or field or doorway every day but maybe one day you’ll see it in a new light, with a new perspective and it will provide you with a bolt of inspiration. For me, I try to pay attention to the small stuff, those coffee mugs, a stack of books, a leaf. They’re all normal on a basic level but if you look at them with a slightly skewed vision, they can inspire you to create something brand new.
Now that you know where my inspiration comes from and what inspires me, I’d love to know what inspires you?