FOR MULTI-PASSIONATES AND CREATIVES: HOW TO FIND (AND USE) INSPIRATION ONLINE, WITHOUT OVERWHELM.
Updated: May 22
Let's face it. You're going to scroll and social media, at the end of the day, is not the real enemy here. The way you interact with it is. I'm sharing my tricks to consume as a creator (not a consumer), make the scroll work for you, and hone your eye, while feeding your inspiration and creativity to get more of the good stuff — without falling into comparison and overwhelm. This post is for all of my multi-passionate creators out there who think that your interests are so varied and are disparate and in opposition to one another when the truth is, you are very likely drawn to the same ideas over and over, expressed in a multitude of ways and across a range of mediums.
There is more inspiration available to us than ever before.
There are two ways to look at this. On one hand you could say, social media is taking over our lives, keeping us locked onto our screens and isolated from our own intuition and those around us. It's keeping us inside, giving us anxiety, and basically the world is a horrible place because of our addiction to the endless scroll.
Or...you could choose to marvel about the fact that there is now greater diplomacy and greater access to inspiration and the world of art in general. The best sources are no longer kept behind closed doors, artists are no longer dependent on gallery curators liking their work and selecting it to be on display and we don't have to be in the same geographic area to have access to images. Because of this we have a greater capacity for creativity and access to any and all bodies of art. Think about it, In just 5 minutes you can view art from the melancholy heart-wrenching photography of a young self-portrait artist to tapestries in faraway Scotland and a runway show from the newest fashion designer in Milan. It's wonderful, and daunting at the same time.
Curate your feed.
Even with all of this free access I want to acknowledge that there are a few barriers to contend with, like the algorithms and the promotion of popular accounts over others. In these cases you could miss seeing your favorite and most valuable content. So the first step to consume like a creator is to ruthlessly curate your feed and your preferred platforms. Pinterest and Instagram are my platforms of choice. I love the former for its ability to learn what I like and the later for its variety and originality.
So, you're onboard with curating your feed — but where do you start? Be intentional with who you choose to follow. I recommend filling your feed with artists and creatives that challenge you to think bigger in your creativity. Especially creators outside of your niche. I'm a photographer but my feed is full of architecture, food styling, lifestyle, fashion, and home decor. Go outside of your usual comfort zone and search for inspiration among creators of all genders, ages, and race.
Train your eye.
Now that you're loving your feed, let's talk about how you avoid getting lost in consuming all of the amazing work you've just curated to propel our creativity forward without getting stuck in comparison, consumption, and overwhelm?
hone your creative eye, elevating and evolving it over time. It will also show you very clearly what you are naturally drawn to, allowing you to consume more of that specific style and reduce your overall consumption at the same time.
I cannot underestimate the importance of training your creative eye. Consumption is and always will be a fundamental piece of the creative process. If you are a creator it is crucial to be consuming inspiration, in great swaths from all aspects of life. Doing so will hone your creative eye, elevating and evolving it over time. It will also show you very clearly what you are naturally drawn to, allowing you to consume more of that specific style and reduce your overall consumption at the same time. And, while I don't want you to limit yourself to online content only — the ease and availability of it are not to be discounted special and not to be discounted. The key here is to slow the scroll and stop feeling guilty every time you search for inspiration online. Instead, be curious.
I learned to do this for myself when I started my self portrait journey and turned to Pinterest for inspiration. There were certain images that I kept returning to again and again. At first I didn't see how they were connected and it wasn't until I learned to really break down an image that I saw the through line and learned what I was drawn to. I just know that they were exciting to me and I wanted to use them as inspiration for my portraits.
The more I saved the more I began to notice the details, learning to dissect every little piece of an image from the lighting (quality, tone, direction, luminosity) to the emotion (quietly confident, warm, open, generous) and the styling (true black tones, creamy whites, and a pop of golden shimmer). I found I loved the mix and juxtaposition of a small-scale set with a distorted perspective image. The blending of cool tones with warm lighting, the play of open body language with lips slightly curled up in mid-secret.
3 Questions to ask yourself to dissect an image.
The simple exercise of asking yourself what a particular image makes you feel and what about it is eliciting that feeling will illuminate so much of your personal taste and train your eye toward more of what you like. By knowing what you are drawn to and why, will allow you to consciously incorporate more of it into your consumption and your creative process.
1. What about this image feels fresh and new to me?
2. How is this piece different or similar to others in the same genre?
3. What does this image make me feel?
What specifically elicits that feeling? Is it the expression on a face? Is it a gesture? If it is the lighting or the setting (under a Parisian bridge by the canal for example). Is it simplicity or maximalism or minimalism?
If it doesn't gut punch you in the soul, it doesn't get saved.
Embrace the synesthesia.
Pinterest boards are magical devices and not to be underestimated. Instagram also has a wonderful folder system, allowing you to do save images you love easily online. My general rule of thumb is, if it doesn't gut punch you in the soul, it doesn't get saved. Revisit the above questions (and your answers!) again and again to help you hone your gut punch meter.
I love having easy access to images I've saved across categories, in one place. When we can see them all at once you get this juicy synesthesia of graphic images next to beauty shots, mixed with color-pops and high contract black and white photos with food styled images. What a wonderful and fun way to confirm that you are drawn to the same thing across mediums.
For example. I love warm, clean lines in imagery and this is consistent across all mediums from interiors to style, portraits, and landscapes. What says warm with clean lines to me might not be what you would categorize as warm with clean lines and that's the beauty of this process — it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else. It just has to make sense to you. Even just wrapping one word around things you are drawn to can give you that ping when you come across it.
*Ping! Warm with clean lines alert!*
This is so valuable when you can find it and recognize it in a medium that's not your own because you can take note of how it's being expressed and integrate that into your own work.
This helps to inform how you break your own rules around what you love. Remember that we don't know the lovely thing without its opposite. We don't know the light without the dark, tenderness without roughness, or elegance without grit.
This is a screenshot from my personal mood board on Pinterest where I mix everything from style to portraiture, food to decor, and florals to storytelling. When you are collecting you r images, don't overlook contradictions and opposites of what you are naturally drawn to. This helps to inform how you break your own rules around what you love. Remember that we don't know the lovely thing without its opposite. We don't know the light without the dark, tenderness without roughness, or elegance without grit.
This final tip will really help all of my multi-passionate creators out there who think that your interests are so disparate and in opposition to one another when the reality is... you are very likely drawn to the same ideas expressed in a multitude of ways and mediums.
This final tip is for all of my multi-passionate creators out there who think that your interests are so disparate and in opposition to one another when the reality is... you are very likely drawn to the same ideas expressed in a multitude of ways and mediums.
Read that again. Underline it. Quote it. Am I blowing your mind?
To summarize, here's how to consume inspiration like a creative and not a consumer. Gather inspiration from other mediums to round out your creative eye and hone your artistic tastebuds. Interact with art as a creator instead of a consumer by identifying and utilizing the inspiration you find and love — in your creation process. Permit yourself to be a fan! There is inherent joy in consuming imagery that lights you up or admiring the work of someone a few steps ahead of you. So let go of scroll-shaming guilt and start being intentional with your time online. If you are using the inspiration to inform your own work, time is not wasted and there is nothing to feel guilty about. Remember; save, dissect, then take your findings into your imagery. Looking for support with your creative process? Let's continue this conversation in the Self Portrait Studio.
To learn more about working with the Goldenbrand for your next project, click here.
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