As you probably know, I’m taking part in the 100 Day Project at the moment, which basically involves choosing a creative project to work on every single day for 100 days.
I’m creating a pattern every day in a pocket-sized Moleskine watercolour sketchbook. This is the longest daily project I’ve worked on and I’m about half way through it so I thought I’d share a few tips for how to find and keep note of ideas.
Although my ways of finding inspiration have been about finding and creating patterns but I hope that you’ll be able to apply some of my ideas to other creative projects too.
Sometimes I won’t know what pattern I’m going to make until I sit down and start doing it but sometimes I just get stuck, and that’s when it can be helpful to have a bank of inspiration to pull from.
So the main places I’ve been getting ideas are:
1. Videos and TV Shows
While I’m watching YouTube videos or TV shows I’ve started noticing patterns on things like cushions, blankets, bedding and wall tiles. An old Robbie Williams music video inspired one of my early patterns!
2. Shop Displays
Sometimes I spot patterns when I’m shopping online but window displays in ‘real life’ shops often grab my attention, if not specifically for patterns they can give me ideas for colours I might want to use.
Not necessarily books about art or design (although these can be helpful too) but I quite like looking at book covers and decorative end papers. The hardback Penguin Classics covers have some really interesting designs on them.
4. At Home
Again, I’ve been noticing patterns on soft furnishings more, and also on furniture, clothing and food packaging.
The size and shape of the windows on a block of flats inspired one of my patterns, but also sometimes you might see interesting decorative brickwork or grates on older buildings while you’re out and about.
Buildings aren’t the only outdoor source of inspiration. There are all kinds of patterns and colours in nature, whether that’s plants, leaves, flowers or animals.
As with books, any magazines will do. I got an idea for a pattern from the fashion section of a free in-flight magazine on my way home from Greece a few weeks ago, but magazines aimed at creative people, such as Flow or Uppercase are full of creative inspiration.
Keep a Record
Once you see something that grabs your attention and gives you an idea for your project keep a record of it. Sometimes that might just involve stopping what you’re doing for a moment to make a mental note of what you see, but if you’re anything like me you may need something more than that otherwise you might forget.
So take a photo on your phone, if you’re online take a screenshot, tear a page from a magazine, or (my favourite) make a quick doodle-note on a post-it or in the back of your sketchbook.
If you’re a bit more organised than me you might want to go further and create a single scrapbook of ideas, either on paper, digitally or both.
Be Inspired But Don’t Replicate
Once you’ve got your bank of inspiration for your project remember that if you’re getting ideas from another artist or designer’s work that inspiration is different from making an exact copy of what you’ve seen.
This is why I like to scribble things down rather than take screenshots or cuttings from a magazine. That way, when I sit down with my sketchbook, I’m pulling my ideas from a doodle I’ve made which is based on, but not identical to, what I’ve seen elsewhere.
Sit down every day and work on your project. You may find that you already have an idea and can get straight to work but if not, use your inspiration bank to get your creative juices flowing, and have fun!
Do let me know if you’ve got any other suggestions for places to find inspiration when working on a daily project for a long period of time. Mine is definitely not an exhaustive list and I’m sure other people would find your ideas helpful.