14 – Looking for creative inspiration?
Inspiration

In this episode, Laura and Nikki talk about all the different ways they find inspiration for their art. From journaling and mind maps to getting outside in nature, and viewing other artists’ work, they provide tons of ideas and resources for creative inspiration.

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE ON:

Laura's Copic Marker ClassLaura is excited to announce that her first Skillshare course is now available!

This class is for anyone brand new to alcohol-based markers or anyone wanting to take a refresher course and brush up on their Copic Marker skills.

This class comes with a slew of FREE downloadable resources including a butterfly illustration hand-drawn by Laura.

Topics discussed

  • Laura’s new Skillshare class – Copic Marker Essentials: Coloring Techniques for Beginners & Beyond (00:38)
  • Sketchbook/journaling/mindmapping (2:24)
  • Getting out in nature (4:40)
  • Going to art exhibits –  Nikki and Laura share some of their faves (7:22)
  • Inspiration from collections and collecting (17:22)
  • Pinterest  (20:59)
  • The difference between inspiration and copying (21:50)
  • Inspiration from travel adventures (22:22)
  • Music inspiration (25:01)

art laura & nikki are inspired by

Dale Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum

Dale Chihuly

Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte

Matisse and Picasso

Matisse and Picasso

Swoon

Swoon

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Muramaki

Laura

0:07
Hi, this is Laura.

Nikki

0:08
And this is Nikki with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:31
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Nikki

0:38
This episode is sponsored by Laura’s new Skillshare class, “Copic Markers Essentials: Coloring Techniques for Beginners and Beyond.” Laura, why don’t you tell us a bit about this class you’ve been working so hard on.

Laura

0:50
Well, Nikki, I spent the last two months creating the course that I wish had been available to me 10 years ago. So this class is for absolute beginners to Copic markers, or somebody who perhaps has already been using them for years, but would love a refresher course. The course is split into three parts. So in the first part, you really get to know the markers – all about them, how to maintain them, the pros and cons. In the second part, we go through essential blending techniques, so you really know how to create beautiful blends when you’re coloring. And then the third part is coloring images that pop off of the page. So you learn all about contrast, and you end up coloring a beautiful butterfly illustration that I’ve hand drawn for you, that you’ll turn into a greeting card for someone special.

Nikki

1:36
And it sounds like the perfect in-depth class for anyone interested in learning how to use – and to buy – Copic Markers.

Laura

1:36
And you can even take it for free right now, because we have a special affiliate link that will give you a free two week trial to the Skillshare premium membership, which also gives you access to thousands of other classes. So it’s completely risk free.

Nikki

1:57
And we’ll provide that link for you in the show notes.

Laura

2:03
So Nikki, what are we talking about today?

Nikki

2:05
Today, we’re talking about where you find inspiration and what inspires you to create.

Laura

2:11
Whoo, I think this is a juicy topic, especially after last week’s episode all about getting out of a creative funk. So Nikki, tell me once you’re out of your creative funk, what inspires you?

Nikki

2:24
I can find so many things inspiring. I talked in the episode about creative funk about writing lists or free association of words. Those lists of words are often things that are in the back of my mind that might spark an idea for creativity. I can actually show some sketchbook pages that show notes where I’ve got list of words, kind of like a mind map, where I’ll write a word and then it will spark ideas in different directions that are just jumping off points.

Laura

2:53
Okay, so why don’t we do that exercise right now?

Nikki

2:56
Oh, right now. Okay, putting me on the spot. Okay. Let’s see. All right. Well, I’ll start with something that is a comfortable topic for me. I’m looking around my house right now. And I see…. ooh, I see a really beautiful piece of moth art made out of metal. And I think it’s actually made out of metal and shells.

Laura

3:18
Oh, cool.

Nikki

3:19
So moth… that makes me think of wings. It makes me think of cocoons, transformation, attracted to light, creepy/cool. Which is my middle name, of course.

Laura

3:35
Yes.

Nikki

3:35
Cicadas. Wings. Did I already say wings? Yeah. So you get the idea. Just you take one thing, and it can just lead to who knows what.

Laura

3:45
So you would take some combination of these words and then use them to inspire a piece of art?

Nikki

3:51
Yeah, it might be that one of the words or a series of words is the title of something. It might be… I do a lot of mixed media work with collage and encaustic. It might be based on that, I might draw one of the things… I might draw a moth. I might… I have this beautiful old dictionary from like, 1850. It’s got beautiful old pages that are falling apart. But it’s… I’ll pull out the definition of a word and include that in my encaustic work. And then I might also use real insect wings in the piece itself.

Laura

4:29
Okay, can I tell you I own like four old dictionaries?

Nikki

4:32
Of course you do.

Laura

4:33
I love to do that, too.

Nikki

4:34
I only have two but you know. Okay, so what’s something that inspires you, Laura?

Laura

4:40
Well, I mentioned in the last episode that I like getting out in nature, and we have this gorgeous Dallas Arboretum. They have incredible exhibits throughout the year, and it’s just absolutely gorgeous. They had an exhibit, maybe… it’s been a while, maybe five or six years ago that was all Chihuly. So those that don’t know Chihuly, Dale Chihuly is a glass artist and does these amazing sculptures in beautiful colors. And some of them are like 200 foot towers, or they seem like they’re that height, they’re probably only like 50 feet tall, but they feel really tall.

Nikki

5:14
Yeah. And I saw a Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens when I lived there. So that must have been like 20 or 25 years ago.

Laura

5:21
I think it’s travelled around to different gardens.

Nikki

5:23
It definitely has. But yeah, to see his work, surrounded by the nature that inspires it…

Laura

5:29
And it looks different in every garden, right?

Nikki

5:31
Yeah, yeah.

Laura

5:32
They place it strategically. So, I think I went to that exhibit 10 times. So I was kind of obsessed with it. But really, for me being out in nature, it just feels inspiring and healthy. It could be the color inspiration, it could be, you know, the shape of a flower or a tree, or in this case, the fact that Chihuly had that real art next to nature as art. That was really inspiring.

Nikki

5:57
So speaking of being inspired by nature, do you know Andy Goldsworthy?

Laura

6:02
Oh my gosh, yes. I love Andy Goldsworthy.

Nikki

6:06
He is amazing.

Laura

6:07
He is amazing. He is British. And he actually has a documentary called Rivers and Tides, that I own.

Nikki

6:14
Of course you own it.

Laura

6:15
And he’s known for mostly creating pieces of art that are transitory or ephemeral. A lot of people have kind of mimicked him or tried to do the same thing since then. But I think he was the first one to really do this. And he would spend, I don’t know how many hours creating beautiful mandala-like sculptures hanging from a tree with thorns that the wind would then blow away. He would create huge rock sculptures when the tide was out. And then the tide would come in and basically pull the stones of the sculpture away. He would create these amazing ice sculptures where he took icicles and then created this huge circle of icicles, and then they would melt the next day.

Nikki

7:00
I remember seeing some that he did with leaves of different colors that kind of formed a gradient. And he would lay it out in a stream so it would float down the stream and it would travel together in a moving gradient and then eventually would just kind of spread apart and dissipate.

Laura

7:17
Yes, amazing. So inspiring.

Nikki

7:20
So beautiful.

Laura

7:22
So another thing that I love to do and get inspired by is going to art exhibits, which I’ve done a lot less of since the pandemic started, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. The one that immediately comes to mind was at the Kimball, here in Fort Worth, and it was an exhibit that had Matisse and Picasso paintings next to each other. And what I did not know is that Matisse and Picasso were friends, and I didn’t even realize they were like, living at the same time and knew each other.

Nikki

7:52
Contemporaries.

Laura

7:53
Contemporaries. So they were friends, and they would exchange paintings, and they would influence each other. So what they did in this exhibit is that they would have paintings side by side and you could literally see the influence. And that was really fascinating. So I enjoyed that one. I loved the fashion exhibits that the Dallas Museum of Art has brought over the years. They had a Christian Dior one about a year and a half ago. And then quite a while ago, maybe eight or ten years ago, they had Jean Paul Gaultier, who is a French fashion guy who did the Madonna bras.

Nikki

8:26
Oh, wow.

Laura

8:27
That’s kind of what he’s famous for these pointed bras, but he actually would do these amazing pieces of beaded dresses that might have 50,000 beads on them. So the exotic nature and the imagination of those would really be interesting to me. Another one that I saw not too long ago was Frida Kahlo at the DMA. And she’s always inspiring.

Nikki

8:47
I love Frida.

Laura

8:48
And I’m going to admit that they came out with a Barbie doll that was Frida a few years ago and I totally bought it.

Nikki

8:53
Of course you did. I’m not sure what I think about that. I’m gonna have to give that some thought. With her and all her body issues to be a Barbie doll. I’m not sure what she would think that.

Laura

9:07
I know, but they did a pretty decent job with it versus the normal. It wasn’t the traditional Barbie doll body shape entirely. So they did a pretty good job with it

Nikki

9:17
Okay, I’ll reserve judgement.

Laura

9:19
Then another one I went to was in New Zealand and I went for a day to this exhibit where everything was made from recycled materials. And when I say everything, they had these gorgeous ballroom gowns that were made from recycled wood, and zip ties. And they had a whole section that was nothing but bras that were made from recycled materials that were just fascinating. So it’s just the minds that go into making these things. And they imagination was so interesting to me. And then another one is Monet. They did the last years of Monet and that was at the Kimball as well and that was fascinating because his eyesight was failing. So all of a sudden, all of his color palette shifted and changed. So that was really interesting to me. How about you, Nikki? What are some of your favorites that you’ve seen?

Nikki

10:04
Oh, I could list a million of them. But let me try to narrow it down. So, one of my favorite shows that I’ve seen in the last two or three years, I was actually the last time I went to San Francisco. The San Francisco MoMA just had just reopened after a big renovation, and they had a huge Rene Magritte exhibit. Magritte was my high school art crush, I was obsessed with Magritte and Escher. They were the big… I haven’t seen any Eschers in person, I don’t think.

Laura

10:38
Now Magritte is the hat in the apple, right?

Nikki

10:40
Yes, yes. Surrealist. Yes. Lots of bowler hats and men in suits. And yeah, and giant objects filling tiny rooms. Yeah. So yeah, so Magritte was one and then Swoon. Have you heard of Swoon, Laura?

Laura

10:58
I have not.

Nikki

10:59
Swoon. She’s a young artist. And she started out doing graffiti and street art kind of stuff, but has gotten into like big galleries and museums within the last 10 years or so. And I happened to see her when I was in New York at the Brooklyn Art Museum. So she did these really big block prints on cut out paper and wheat-pasted onto different substrates. And so she had this giant tall ceiling room at the top, kind of a rotunda sort of space, cut out wood that you could walk through and sit in and go under and around covered with her imagery. And it’s very kind of social-political commentary, but just beautifully layered imagery that you could walk through.

Nikki

11:46
So another one from that same trip to New York was Leonardo Drew, who is an artist that makes sculptures out of found wood pieces. And it was another one where he, filled this big gallery that was several rooms that you could walk through, and the sculptures went above you and around you from room to room, and you could walk through them as well.

Laura

12:10
I’m kind of seeing a theme here.

Nikki

12:12
I know, I never thought about that before. But there’s really a theme about these immersive spaces that you can just get into. And then another one, also in New York, many years previous was Christo’s gates. He had these like big orange banners on big stands throughout Central Park. And they’re just like, on the hills, just gate after gate after gate that you could also walk through. So those are all one type of thing that I never actually correlated together before. But I’m seeing a theme now of spaces you can walk through. But a couple other things. There’s this one place I keep going back to when I go to San Francisco, that’s the Hess Collection. And it’s an art museum that’s also a winery and I couldn’t possibly tell you if their wine is any good. I can’t wait remember.

Laura

13:00
I think I’ve seen it at the store, to be honest, I’ve seen The Hess Collection before but I can’t tell you if it’s any good either.

Nikki

13:05
But you know the name is… I can’t remember his first name, his last name Hess. And he is you know, businessman who collects art and he opened these wineries in Napa, in Australia, somewhere in South America. I can’t remember maybe Chile, just a wide variety of amazing art, he has Anselm Kiefer. He has actually he has a whole room that’s Andy Goldsworthy, Robert Motherwell, Rauschenberg, just an amazing collection that I keep going back to.

Laura

13:35
And that reminds me there was one other one that I wanted to mention, and that was the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, had a Takashi Murakami exhibit. Do you know who that is?

Nikki

13:46
I don’t, I’m not familiar with him.

Laura

13:48
So Takashi does these amazing screen prints that have like 300 layers.

Nikki

13:54
Oh my gosh.

Laura

13:55
And very bright colors. And he has actually been on like a Kanye West cover. He is quite famous in urban culture around the world. But he has minions, because nobody could produce the volume of art that he does. But these incredible experiencial installations that are like, you know, 20 feet high, and when you look at them, they’re perfect. They’re just they’re so amazing. So he was famous for this flower with these happy faces that he did for a while. But then he does sculptures, murals with these monks and they all had different faces I’m not describing as well whatsoever.

Nikki

14:33
We’ll have to find some images to put in the show notes.

Laura

14:36
I have so many images I took from that exhibit. We’ll have to share them.

Nikki

14:41
I’m still stuck on the fact that he had minions. I need minions. Where do you sign up for minions?

Laura

14:47
So many minions because there’s no way – and he’s a perfectionist. So I imagine it would be difficult being a part of that team. The accomplishment and when you look at this exhibit and you’re just blown away by the sheer volume and the perfection of the work and what went into it. I was fascinated. And I didn’t even know who he was before I went to the exhibit, but I had some family members came in town because they wanted to see it. My nephew was like, this guy’s the coolest guy in the planet. Yeah, so that was a really cool one too.

Nikki

15:16
Okay, so we talked about the fact that one of the things that was a common thread through a bunch of the things I pulled out was that you can walk through these experiences, what do some of your favorite things have in common?

Laura

15:29
I think my common theme very frequently is use of color. I am fascinated by a bold use of color, but also the imagination, and the personality and the expression, the free self expression that these artists have and how they take an idea in their head and it comes to fruition. So to me, that is just fascinating, getting into the sort of the minds of the individuals who created the art. Yeah, because it makes me think, you know, I’ll be ruminating over a good exhibit for a couple of days. And to me that thought process might actually spark something new in my own work.

Nikki

16:12
Cool. So let me ask you something. When you see something like this, and you’re so inspired by thinking about what their thought process might be, do you want to read the statements and hear from them directly what they were thinking about? Or would you prefer to just kind of stick to your own thoughts about it?

Laura

16:32
I think it’s some combination of the two like I’m curious. And I do want to know their process. Like if something… like when you see the Takashi Murakami, you go “How in the world could he have created that volume of work?” Like, you want to know, how did the minions make it?

Nikki

16:48
Right?

Laura

16:50
And what was the inspiration process behind it? So I do find that fascinating. But the other thing is, sometimes it takes a little of the mystery out.

Nikki

16:58
Yeah, I agree.

Laura

16:59
So sometimes it’s nice just to sit with, “Wow, that was really incredible and I don’t know exactly how it was done.” Because you fall in love with the mystery.

Nikki

17:10
Yeah, yeah. And I think that sometimes knowing what they were thinking or what their real lives are, can take away from that.

Laura

17:18
Yeah. Yeah. So what else inspires you, Nikki?

Nikki

17:22
So another thing that inspires me is both collections and collecting. So seeing other people’s collections and collecting things myself. I collect dead things. Dead things and creepy things or things that other people consider creepy. So I collect bones. I collect insects. I have cicadas and moths and butterflies and bees and wasps and wasp nests.

Laura

17:53
You must love Tyler Thrasher.

Nikki

17:54
I love Tyler Thrasher. In fact, I have two of his crystallized cicadas.

Laura

18:02
Yes, he’s amazing.

Nikki

18:03
He’s amazing.

Laura

18:05
We’ll link to him in the show notes.

Nikki

18:06
Yeah, definitely.

Laura

18:08
Okay, so I am totally not into dead things. However, I’ve seen some of the art that you’ve actually drawn on them. And it’s kind of creepy/cool.

Nikki

18:18
Well, creepy/cool is my middle name. That and bourbon. So I’m also fascinated by the things that other people collect, and how they display them. For example, we talked before about Lisa Congdon. And if I remember correctly, the way she first got really well known was she was posting on Instagram photos of some of her collections every day. So she had collections of old erasers.

Laura

18:51
I remember the erasers.

Nikki

18:52
Yeah, yeah.

Laura

18:53
Beautifully presented.

Nikki

18:55
Yeah, and like old clothespins, but she would lay them out beautifully and photograph them beautifully and post them every day. And she got a book deal out of that, which happens to be a beautiful book. So what about you, Laura? Do you collect anything?

Laura

19:08
Do art supplies count?

Nikki

19:11
Well, for you, they probably should. Other than art supplies and books. What else do you collect?

Laura

19:18
Other than art supplies and books? I collect rocks from my travels. So I specifically collect these grey rocks that have a white stripe of quartz running through them. I’m sort of fascinated by them. So I have those from all over the world, Ireland and New Zealand and Thailand and different places. Let’s see what else? I collect other people’s artwork that I admire. And I have artwork from Tracy Verdugo, from Nancy Medina, Helen Dardick, Jennifer Curie, just to name a few.

Nikki

19:49
Nice. I also collect other people’s artwork. I think that’s the best way you can show support for people whose work you admire is collect it and fortunately a lot of the artists that I admire who do big beautiful work also do some, like really small things that I can actually afford to collect. So I have some beautiful work by encaustic artists that I love, including Melissa Hall, Crystal Neubauer. So I love to collect art from artists that I know or admire that I’ve… some people I’ve just seen on Instagram.

Laura

20:26
And what inspires you about the artwork that you collect?

Nikki

20:30
Um, it could be a combination of materials, anything, anything that has encaustic and old paper and anything old and crumbly, like we’ve talked about that I find so beautiful. But also, anything that kind of has a haunting quality to it a little bit disturbing, a little bit creepy. Unsurprising, I’m sure. What about you, what inspires you in the artwork that you collect?

Laura

20:59
In the artwork I collect most of it is the use of color. And, in fact, I also collect pins on Pinterest of color combos that I love. So color to me is, that’s really what draws me to a piece usually.

Nikki

21:14
I collect a lot of art on Pinterest. It’s more affordable that way. I buy it when I can. But yeah, I have Pinterest boards full of things that are inspiring to me. And they’re usually, like I described something haunting or old materials and nudes. I can’t get away from mentioning nudes, because most of my drawings are nudes. There’s just something about the female form…

Laura

21:38
Right. And as much as we enjoy collecting other people’s artwork, I think it’s worth mentioning that when you’re inspired by another artist, it doesn’t mean that you should copy them.

Nikki

21:49
Oh, for sure.

Laura

21:50
Find what you can from them that inspires you to utilize in your work, but in your own unique voice and way.

Nikki

21:58
Yeah, in fact, we’re going to talk about this in another episode where we talk about Stealing Like an Artist to quote Austin Kleon, who is a fabulous author that we’ve mentioned before. But the idea is to just take in what you find inspirational from a bunch of different sources. And let that soak into you, not to just be inspired by one thing, but to be inspired by the overall feeling.

Laura

22:22
Right. Now I know that there’s one thing that both of us have in common that inspires us and that is travel.

Nikki

22:29
Oh travel, I remember travel. Do you remember travel, Laura?

Laura

22:33
I do. I do.

Nikki

22:36
So I don’t know if I can tie a direct correlation between travel and inspiration for my art. But it’s what inspires me as a person, it excites me and makes me feel alive, it fills me up. I take a zillion photos that may or may not have anything to do with my art, but it’s what makes me feel alive.

Laura

22:55
Yeah, and I’m the same way. In fact, travel for me is my number one inspiration. And I can’t wait until we can travel again freely. And like you, it doesn’t specifically show directly in my art. But I can give you some examples that came close. So one of those is the hand painted tiles that are on the walls everywhere in Portugal. They are just absolutely stunning. And another is in Marrakech, Morocco, the Berber rugs. So the rugs there that are hand woven and the colors used in them and the patterns used in them. It really, really is inspiring and beautiful to me to see those textures and the patterns and the color combinations.

Nikki

23:36
Do I sense a pattern collection in the future?

Laura

23:39
Could be, could be.

Nikki

23:41
Oh, a travel themed pattern collection sounds great. So that reminds me of being in Italy and the things that I find inspiring there. So we talked about all the old crumbling buildings and how beautiful that is to us. But that combination of the old buildings and beautiful bright fields of sunflowers for miles and miles, that sort of decay and new life juxtaposition. It’s just amazing.

Laura

24:09
I love that. And yeah, you talk about decay. That’s another thing I wanted to mention was being in Portugal, there are so many buildings that are literally falling apart. But they are so gorgeous.

Nikki

24:19
Yeah, I think to people who grew up in Europe, that’s probably nothing. But for those of us who are from the United States, where you know, we’re only just a little more than a couple hundred years old. That’s so foreign to us that it’s just fascinating, you know,

Laura

24:37
Yeah, it is for sure. So inspiration doesn’t have to be directly correlated to your art. It’s part of what gives you juice and energy to get back in the studio and create. And I might go see a Monet exhibit and be inspired. But I’m not going to run home and grab my soft pastels and paint waterlilies. I mean, I get an excitement and energy from that experience that can translate that into my own work,

Nikki

25:01
Right. So I know we’re also both very inspired by music.

Laura

25:05
Heck, yeah.

Nikki

25:07
Some maybe more than others, but we’re gonna share that in a separate episode because we could go on for hours about music, and we’ll share some of our playlists of our favorite music and why it inspires us. Right?

Laura

25:20
For sure. So let’s talk about our key takeaways.

Nikki

25:24
Okay, what’s our first one?

Laura

25:26
The first one is to use word association or mind-mapping or journaling to help inspire you.

Nikki

25:33
Right. And then another one is to get out in nature or travel or go to art exhibits to get inspiration outside your home environment.

Laura

25:42
And the last one is to collect things that inspire you or that you use in your work.

Laura

25:47
So now it’s your turn. We’d love for you to share what inspires you in the Startist Society Facebook group or on Instagram and tag us @startistsociety.

Nikki

25:56
If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe and leave us a review. Visit startistsociety.com/inspiration to learn more about the podcast and read the show notes, where we’ll share all the resources we mentioned in this episode.

Laura

26:10
Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next week.

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