Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Last weekend, a friend and I made a pilgrimage up north to see the Dior exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art, and it was, without hyperbole, jaw-droppingly spectacular. As a lifelong fashion fiend, I’ve always loved clothes and style, and this exhibit was an absolute dream: the colors and textures, the architecture behind each piece… fashion at its best is nothing short of fine art, and seeing this exhibit was the creative infusion I needed.

Working from home and seeing the same things day in and day out sometimes leaves me feeling dulled out, and the dreaded Writer’s Block sets in. Last Monday, I went to a movie as a reward to myself for finishing some work, and it inspired me for days afterwards: it’s these small, yet incredibly meaningful investments in ourselves that improve the quality of our work—and our lives.

Creative dates have become an integral part of my approach to work. When I meet with someone and hear about their work history, or a small business owner gives me the story behind their business, that experience benefits the next project or next client I work with. Creativity is both cumulative and cyclical: one thing leads to the next, knowledge is accumulated, lessons are learned, and the work continues.

Inspiration can come from anywhere; it’s perception that makes the difference. I could be people-watching at a gas station and derive more joy from that experience than from a day at the Louvre: it’s my frame of mind that influences the outcome and what I take away from it.

The trope of the tortured artist reinforces the dangerous notion that one must be in pain to produce creative work. For the sake of my own mental health (and speaking of tropes), I’m working on a paradigm shift here, seeing creative inspiration through a lens of gratitude. Instead of punishing myself and playing a reel of negative self-talk to “encourage” my creativity (my normal M.O.), I actively remind myself that attitude is everything—and that positivity leads to better work.

Where does inspiration come from? For me, it comes from within. Treat yourself well, speak to yourself with kindness, practice gratitude, and inspiration will follow.

(The image for this post is of the Dior exhibit: it ends on September 1, so make the trip before it’s too late!)