inspiration

inspired

Have you ever wondered where creativity comes from? Why do some people seem to be more creative than others? Is it an innate ability only a select few are gifted with or do we all possess the same creative potential?

Here’s one thing I’ve noticed: all the really creative folks I know hold a genuine and ongoing interest in many things. They’ve got an increased receptivity to inspiration. 

Is this something they’re born with or something experience has developed in them? I couldn’t say, but I do know this: it’s a posture everyone can develop—a wellspring available to all.

There are times in my own life when I have kept myself closed off and closed in. As a result, my sense of inspiration waned dramatically. But when I’ve focused on dissevering and appreciating more of the world around me, BAM, inspiration hits like a load of bricks (though not as painful).

Chances are, you already have a good idea of what you find inspiring. Consider what excites you, what piques your interest; what do you find fascinating? 

Dig deeper until you gain an understanding of why you find inspiration from such sources, this will help you look for it in other places.

When it comes to the inter-webs, Pinterest is a very popular source of inspiration. I hardly find a baked good, craft, or room design that didn’t have a little help from Pinterest these days. In fact, my wife recently used it to get some ideas for our son’s dino-themed first birthday. 

She discovered a clever way to cut watermelon so it looked like a monster’s head. However, we didn’t just straight-up copy the design, we added some flavor of our own, including little cantaloupe wedges for teeth and head spikes. Personally, I think it made a nice improvement, and the kids loved it.

Check it out:

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Pinterest hunting is fun, no doubt about it. But heed my warning, oh hunter of inspiration, once you find it, never take it as-is. When using it for your own creations, you’ve got to change it in some significant way—make it your very own. 

This might not seem like a big deal for cake pops and bookshelves, but the more serious you are about growing as a creative, the more important it is that you don’t just steal another person’s work.

For a little more on the subject of inspiration vs. stealing, check out my post: The Planets.

the planets

If you’ve listened to Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite, The Planets, you probably thought the same thing I did: it sounds a lot like Star Wars. And I mean a whole lot. The similarities are especially noticeable in the first movement, Mars, which is very similar to The Imperial March.

They’re so similar, in fact, at times it sounds like one was ripped straight from the other. Since The Planets came first (1916), does that make the original Star Wars composer, John Williams, a big copy cat?

In Holst’s work, each movement of the suite is based on the astrological nature of a planet in our Solar System. You might say it’s a fairly high-concept album. In more modern times, musical artists like Ryan O'Neal and Sufjan Stevens have done similar projects with planet-based songs. I expect during the time, Holst’s theme was quite unique.

Inspiration is a strange thing. Legally, there are rules concerning how similar one's work is allowed to be to another without it being considered stealing. I remember someone telling me about 10% is allowable. Even then, it gets muddy. I’m thinking Under Pressure vs. Ice, Ice Baby sorts of things. And I hope we can all agree that Vanilla Ice ain’t got nothin’ on David Bowie.

Beyond the a question of what is legal, I wonder what is right? I don’t think Williams denies  the influence The Planets had on his score for Star Wars, but does that still make it ok? That’s a tough one. 

The soundtrack for Star Wars is an excellent piece of work on its own (in my opinion), and it’s impossible to say what shape it would have taken without Holst’s influence. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when massive success and recognition comes from adopting portions of another person’s work into your own, a certain amount of credit (and even financial compensation) is due to the originator. 

A worker is worthy of their wages—that’s no less true when it’s a creative work.

It’s hard to draw a line, but I think every artist deserves to receive recognition and value when their own work leads to the advancement of another’s.

Apparently, there was also a lawsuit based on Hans Zimmer’s score for Gladiator, which duplicated some aspects of The Planets. So Williams wasn’t the only one influenced. And so it goes with great works of art—other people notice and they can’t help but want to do something similar. That’s not a bad thing.

I often think about this when I see people on YouTube getting paid to play someone else’s game. I’m not against it, and have even enjoyed watching a few playthroughs myself, but I also wonder whether or not it benefits the game company. People might not buy a game they can watch someone play, but then again the game is getting free publicity.

When it comes to inspired work, one important question to ask is who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose?

Where do you think the line should be drawn between inspiration and stealing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

jump and live

A friend and coworker recently shared this brief video of Steve Harvey with me. I found it powerful. I’m sure it’s been bouncing around the interconnected webs for a while, but I thought you might also enjoy it, even if you’ve already seen it before. Besides all that, I’m a little behind on posts, so this is me being lazy. Hey, everyone needs a break now and then, even Steve Harvey.

Jump and Live

creative magic

One of the things I love about creativity is the magic inherent in every creative act; it’s one of the reasons creativity never gets old.

For me, there is a difference between the mystical and magical. Mystical is unapproachable, indefinite, confusing. Magical, on the other hand, is wonderful, amazing, awe-inspiring and fun. They are both strange, but for different reasons. These aren’t opposites, but they can be at odds.

It’s easy to relegate creativity and those who practice it to the mystical side of the spectrum, to believe only the elite can obtain it—that it must be earned in some way no one quite understands. But I see a different side to it. I see sparks of magic every time someone dares to be creative, like something from Harry Potter but with no Muggles and a more balanced and robust magic system.

To be clear, I’m not talking about witchcraft, spellbinding or similar practices, but something deeper, the same magic with which the world was made, the same which flows in each person and allows us to see a thing and call it beautiful, to be stirred deep in our souls—beyond the grasp of mere words.

The sweet thing is, no one owns this magic, it’s available to everyone. Sure, there are self-proclaimed watchdogs, people in suits who own big companies, make labels or give out awards. They’ve had their day, but the doors they guarded are blown wide open, I think this is for the best. Not to say the curators aren’t important. I think they’re even more important now, with such a flood of creative content available. The difference is it’s not just about the money and those with the money don’t get to make all the big decisions on what is and isn’t creative.

I recently heard an interview with the lead singer of The Flaming Lips. He talked about how much their process has changed over the years, gotten easier because of all the great audio tools available. But he also admitted they still don’t really know what they’re doing, despite all their experience making albums. The process may be faster for them, and smoother, but they’re figuring it out just as much as anyone else every time they begin a song.

I found this inspirational: no one gets to tell you the right or wrong way to be a creative because no one really knows for sure, it’s just an ongoing wonderful journey. The professionals are still figuring it out and novices discover new methods all the time.

Sure, you can get some great advice from people who have been there before, but they’re all still learning how the magic works the same way you are. It’s a magic that’s always there but always changing. Creative accomplishment, like tomorrow, is guaranteed to no one and those who had it might not always keep it. It takes effort every time and the moment we stop putting in the effort, we lose our grasp.

With the tools and technology available today, the bar to entry is low. It’s become very easy to make something wonderful and share it with the public. On the downside, it’s also easy to make junk and give it to a lot of people, which makes people more skeptical. This is why we need the curators. But the junk inevitably floats to the bottom and the creamiest of crops rise to the top.

So what am I trying to say in this half-crazed ramble? Perhaps, like a winged granny, I'm off my rocker, but I can't help being a little squirrely here—I'm just nuts about creativity and its endless possibilities. Here, I suppose, is my roundabout point: take time to enjoy the creative process, be open to new discoveries and stand back in wonder at the magic of it all.

 

Creatively yours,

A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, do you think of creativity as more magical or mystical, or is it something you approach with logic and reason? Let us know in the comments below.

inspiration

Hi folks, welcome back! While taking a week off of posting, I've gone and made a few changes to the site. You can read more about them in the news section of the home page. Now we're back in business and it's time to talk a little about inspiration. So fasten your safety belts and make sure your valuables are securely stowed, inspiration here we come! 

Show me a creative and I’ll show you someone inspired (to be clear, I’m pointing at the exact same person).

When you get the ball rolling, the wheels turning and the pipe piping on your creativity, you’re bound to have a head full o’ ideas. Too many, perhaps. But when you’re just getting started, ideas can be a bit harder to come by. Hey, where do ideas come from anyway? I mean, besides your mind, silly.

I declare to you a great many ideas come from being inspired (call it my declaration of inspiration). Have you noticed the more outside sources of inspiration there is in your life, the more creative ideas of your own come popping up out of the woodwork like a bad case of termites? Well, I have (and someone call pest control on those buggers)!

If you’re on the hunt for a good idea, start checking into some sources of inspiration. They don’t necessarily need to be from the same place either. Expand your horizons: go to a concert, go eat some ethnic food outside your typical cuisine, go on a hike, read a graphic novel, try paddle boarding, do some people-watching at the park and bet someone in a bottle-cap race through the canals. Me? Nope, never done that last one before. Maybe once, but it was entirely within city ordinance, I swear, Officer.

Ok, before you get too out of hand, maybe start with what you know. Try chatting with an expert in your field of interest. Look for examples from your favorite creative influences. But don’t be afraid to branch out a little. You’d be surprised what crazy connections your brain makes when you let it get inspired.

Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety nine percent perspiration.”

You know what I say? Don’t sweat it, just get out there, open your mind to a wold of possibilities and get inspired.

 

Creatively yours,
A.P. Lambert

 

Hey Creatives, what are some of your favorite sources of inspiration? Let us know in the comments below.