“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” -Goethe
I was out with a group of friends and one asked me where do you find the ideas for all the things you make. I wish I could have smiled and said inspiration finds me. But that would have been a lie. I go out looking for inspiration all the time. For every pattern that I write, I have probably attempted another 3 or 4. 90% of inspiration is going out and looking for it every day, all the time. Having said that, I do have a couple of things I do when I am trying to find new ideas.
Look at pictures. Most of us crafters are visual people. Looking at pictures can give you fresh new ideas. Craftgawker and Pinterest are just awesome for just that. Flickr is another source too that I usually look at. And when I need even more ideas I just use Google Image search and look there. I am by no means suggesting you copy other people’s ideas but you might notice a new trend, or something done in a totally different craft that might give you ideas or perhaps just relax enough so your brain can create your own magic. Don’t be afraid of searching. Try random searches, like green doors for example.
Mosaic created by By AnastasiaC @ percivalroad found on flickr
Take notes. I use Evernote and absolutely love it. It is a wonderful tool for taking notes, organizing them and syncing on so many different devices. I also use the old fashioned pen and paper solution. I sometimes get ideas and just need to write them down or draw little sketches that I want to remember for later. I also use post it notes and stick them all over the place. I learned the hard way, when I am testing a new pattern idea if I don’t take notes I won’t be able to recreate the pattern again because I make so many changes as I go along.
Take Pictures. I love taking pictures. Random pictures of things that I like or pictures that can lead to more ideas. Even when I don’t have my DSLR with me I use my phone camera. You never know where you might find inspiration. These are just some of the pics I’ve taken while going about life as usual.
1. #vintage parking meter, 2. #rainbow dumpster and #graffiti, 3. Arabesque, 4. A trip to the bookstore
Learn a new technique. Whenever I feel that I am stuck, I try something new and challenging, a new stitch pattern, a different cast on or bind off, whatever it is you do, there is always something new you can learn and use in a future design. I just figured out intarsia and have a million and one ideas of what I can do with it. I also bought a set of cable needles and that is next on my list of learning something new knitting wise.
Try a different craft I don’t think I might ever become a painter but I still enjoy painting. I love mixing different colors and using different brushes. I usually use watercolors when my daughter wants to, we just sit together and make messy paintings. I always feel inspired after I am done.
Go to the mall. I sometimes spend mornings at the mall looking at the shops and trends but I also look at window displays (some of them are really creative) and look at other people too. Details like hairdos or color combinations in their clothes might give you a totally new idea, something you would have never thought of before had you not seen something different.
Move. Dance, jump on the bed or go for a walk. Sometimes just getting the blood pumping in your body, gets the cogs in your head working too.
Craft with a child. If you don’t have one of your own, ask one of your friends if you could babysit for them so you could do a little child/adult crafting (trust me most moms would love to get a little bit of extra free time). Children are curious and love making and breaking stuff. Their brains are still fresh and don’t have our inhibitions. They will paint with their toes, lick the glue and will try the craziest party tricks. They might just show you an idea or two.
Find a community. There are forums and websites dedicated to almost every craft and cross craft there is. Become an active member, make friends, ask for advice, give advice, show your craft and you will realize that the ideas might just come to you. When I first joined ravelry I was so happy I could talk to like minded yarn obsessed amazing people. From the forums I learned that the environmentally friendly knitters and crocheters love making market bags to use and gift, so I was inspired to design my own. They cheered me when I wanted to start knitting and held my hand as I tore my hair out trying to figure out why my purls were so tight. They suggested I try different techniques for purling until I found my way out of the dark dark hole. Humans are social beings, even the most introverted of us, still like the feeling of community, so find one and enjoy it.
Take the day off. If you are still stuck, just take the day off and try again tomorrow.
In conclusion, creativity and inspiration are hard work. I am certain that some of us are more talented than others, but you can still work on it.