on inspiration, influence, & creating

I’m wordy and deep today…there’s your warning.

I’ve been thinking about inspiration and influence…and how I am affected by the two. There isn’t much I don’t find inspiring in some way or another. Influence, on the other hand, I have to step back and really look at my life to see what & who are having influence on me.

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I have a crazy large collection of magazines…lots of really old ones too.  I have files of magazine pages I’ve torn out over the years. The pages are of things I want to recreate or things that inspire me. I was going through an old copy of Martha Stewart KIDS and found a tutorial for felt fortune cookies. There was once a time that to find great tutorials, you had to purchase magazines or books…they weren’t found by a simple online search. Of course, now that tutorial is online. You can find it by clicking here. On Valentine’s Day morning there were 6 fortune cookies waiting for my hubby and kids (I’ll save Little One’s). If I had not found that tutorial, I probably would not have taken the time to think up something so cute. I’m thankful for women like Martha (and her team) that make creativity accessible and easy.
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I like to create. I like to use my hands. Sometimes I want to create something completely my own. Other times I am drained and just want to follow the creative ideas of others. A couple of weeks ago I found myself at Craft Weekend wanting to paint. However, it was 11:00pm. I was tired and smitten with some Heather Bailey fabric (which I now own 4 yards of!). Instead of creating a painting from scratch, I just wanted to paint again. It had been so long. So I sketched a version of Heather’s fabric and painted it. It reminded me of days in art classes where our instructor had us copy great works of art. I made it for me. Just to paint again. However, after I posted it here I began thinking about this blog and who reads it. Despite, the painting being just for fun, for practice, for me (and sharing a link to the Heather Bailey fabric)….I wonder if I should have shared it here.
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I know all too well that people like to take things they see online and pass them off as their own, intentionally and unintentionally. It made me wonder…would anyone read that post and then find fabric they liked, paint it and then try to sell it as their own design f0r profit? As an artist and blogger, I do think there is a responsibility on my part for how I share creative projects. I would never want something I share to work against an artist or designer. I’m pretty confident Heather Bailey fabric will not be affected negatively by my painting, but I want to always be mindful of those sorts of things. I want to be known as a blogger and artist that respects others.

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When my last project for Design*Sponge went live, a couple of people noted the similarities between my work and that of Katie Daisy. As you all fully know, I am a huge fan of Katie’s work. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her as an artist and a person. My project for D*S was the result of several different versions I worked through with my editor. At the time of creating, Katie’s work never crossed my mind. Though her work was not inspiration for my own, I can see Katie’s influence on my own work. Katie’s prints are all over my home and they welcome me every time I open this blog. Her influence on me as an artist is undeniable and I am grateful for it. All that to say, it truly bothered me that someone might think I was trying to mimic Katie’s work…not because I was offended, but because I would never want to not give credit when due ~ especially when it is another artist I admire and respect so much.
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So, what is the point of sharing all that? I want to create. I want to encourage others to create. I like that things like Pinterest are making creative ideas more accessible to the masses. I think creativity is good for the soul and makes people happy. I’ve seen creativity flourish in friends because of the great resource known as Pinterest. I share tutorials here in hopes that someone might be sparked to get a little creative on their own. I’m not looking to ‘make it big’ in the creative industry (but if Martha ever invites me to her show…well I sure wouldn’t turn her down ) I function better when I can create, whether it is a project that I follow a tutorial, or a project inspired by someone else, or just a random project of my own. I hope those that read my blog would see that creativity isn’t just for ‘artists’ or those that understand the technically correct way to do something. I hope people read this blog and buy a glue gun just to give creativity a try.

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To me, one of the hard parts of creative works and the internet is sometimes I don’t think we always recognize the influence of others. There are times we are so shaped by the creative works and styles of others…that we just don’t even realize it. When I step back and look at how I have changed over the course of the last few years, I can see strong influences from women I’ve grown to love. Rachel has given me a whole new appreciation for flea markets. Dottie Angel has encouraged my excitement over vintage fabric. Julie has caused me to spray paint too many things. Meg has shown me how bold and vintage can flow seamlessly. Ann has taught me not just to notice the daily gifts in my life, but to write them down and give thanks for them. And I could go on and on….
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I am constantly finding inspiration. I find it in magazines. In the homes of my friends. On blogs. On Pinterest. In books. In people. Inspiration is everywhere. As a blogger and artist, I want to be inspired. I want to create. And I want to point others to those I find inspiring. If I find a great tutorial online, I want to point you to it…not pretend it is mine (though the felt cookies would be pretty awesome to pretend I came up with).  I am grateful for all the well written tutorials out there that just let me copy their steps and enjoy making something when I need concrete steps instead of inspiration. And when I am inspired by someone else’s work that leads to my own project, I want to be mindful to give proper credit even for inspiration.

And then on the days that I create something uniquely my own….I want to learn to recognize that even my work has been influenced by others. It is so easy to be influenced by others creatively….and that makes me think more about who I am allowing to influence me…as an artist….as a photographer….as a wife…as a mom…as a friend….

Deep thoughts I’m pondering these days between sweeping the floor and folding laundry. I haven’t gotten too far. I know I want to be continually inspired. I know I want to weed out the things I don’t want influencing me. I know I want to recognize those that do inspire and influence me. I also know I want our dossier to be “logged in” in China today (but that is totally unrelated!)

Deep thoughts with Ashley Ann.

So, I’m just curious…who and what do you find inspiring? Who have you found that is an influence in any area of your life?


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