by Nicole Constantin
This installment of “From Fibre to Couture” is meant to be the first part of an on-going discussion about one of the most important aspects to creation…Inspiration. Please share by joining the conversation with comments and ideas, suggestions, practical advice, links, etc. With some work on inspiration, in combination with practical skills, we can all reach new levels of creativity which were previously unrealized.
Every now and then, an idea just seems to appear out of nowhere and when you try to track down its roots it seems that it was just planted, in your mind, in the middle of the night, by a higher power. But more often than not, most of our ideas sprout up or evolve from a seed that’s been planted, or an impression which came from an existing ‘source’. Idea ‘sources’ are what I would like to explore today. These sources, for ideas, as well as the motivation, to create are most commonly referred to as the well sought after ‘Inspiration’.
I think every artist, designer, and creator, of any type, has their own working definition, of inspiration, and what it means to them and their work. Most of us also have our favorite sources and maybe even some exercises for accessing this most giving, but often elusive, phenomenon. My own personal relationship with inspiration is one that I work to nurture and maintain just like the rest of the relationships in my life!…It can be an ever evolving relationship for sure! It is actually much like a hot, romantic affair, some of the time…at other times more like a parent-child relationship. Sometimes it is a healthy, mutual friendship, and still other times it can be more like a neglectful and elusive lover, breaking my heart daily. I strive to keep the relationship more on the level of a stable, but juicy, marriage and that is how I like it to stay the majority of the time…always there for each other, but definitely not boring!
Exploring this inspiration relationship, giving it attention, and putting in the work and love are the sure ways to keep it more on the ‘stable, but juicy marriage’ level. This will look different for everyone, of course, but I would like to share some of my ideas, and would LOVE to hear some of yours, too. This very thing, sharing with other artists, is on the top of my list for inspiration work, so let’s start there!
1. Other Artists:
One of my favorite sources of inspiration is the constant flow of brilliant, amazing, jaw-dropping and passionate work from fellow creators. Sometimes their medium is not even close to fiber or fashion, but their message stirs such passion in the heart that one can’t help but be changed and exploding with new ideas! Sometimes it’s fine art, music, literature, photography, architecture, wood-working, or glass art. And sometimes it’s even gardeners, astronauts, athletes, or activists, whom simply make an art of what they do!
This can often be a list that is ever-changing and evolving, but some favorite are just constantly there for that little bit of push that you need to help an idea grow. Other artists can help you take your work that bit further than if you had never seen their work. Most of my favorite inspirational artists tend to have made art out their very lives and are all-around inspiring people!
Here are a couple of fiber related links to explore that are my current favorites, please share your own, as well:
Fibre Artist: Michelle Snowdon of Wooldancer
Wooldancer, for me, is like a nice dose of inspirational chicken soup, she validates and deepens my own tastes and aesthetics with her use of whimsy, happiness, luxury, nature and simplicity. One thing that I have always been drawn to is a stunning and bold, yet often simple, aesthetic, with a smirk of humor and a nod to delicacy. I see that see those things in Wooldancer’s work! Even if she had never meant to put it there, or doesn’t realize that is what a viewer sees, it is something that often presents itself in my own work and thus I can appreciate in others. I also have crush on her dying methods and materials.
Wooldancer website: www.wooldancer.com
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/Wooldancer
Fibre Artist: Lisa Renee McKenzie of Oscar and Sophia Handmade Wearables
Of special note, for me, are Lisa’s uses of both color and texture!…seeing her work at Yarnival, recently, really helped me get out of my color and texture ruts and inspired me to branch out in these areas to do some new things! Lisa is fearless in both of these categories and that is so inspiring.
Glass and Fibre Artist: Alexis Berger
Alexis is currently in the process of custom making a few of her amazing glass drop spindles for me! Since I first laid eyes on her magnificent creations I have been mesmerized and can’t wait to use these pieces of art to create my work with! There is something so irresistibly ironic in the use of glass for an instrument with the word ‘drop’ in its very name! The elaborate beauty that she puts into such a practical instrument is also very appealing to my impractical nature!
To go directly to the spindles: http://www.alexisberger.com/fiber-arts-tools.php
Of course, artists of other genres than our own can be just as inspiring…in the fields of music, photography, fine art, poetry, and etc. there are unlimited opportunities to enrich our lives, overall happiness and well-being, but also to draw inspiration from and apply to our own genre. These tastes are all very personal and there is just too much to explore in this one article, but, I just really want to say to be adventurous, open, and ever-seeking, don’t necessarily wait for new art and artists to come into your life, seek them out…make the first move. Don’t be rigid to your tastes, or only what you think you like. It is so important to experiment here, to branch out of your comfort zone, and to explore new things!
The second most obvious and often use source of inspiration that I would like to discuss is media. Two of my favorite forms being magazines (especially fashion mags) and the internet.
Magazines, journals, internet sites (Etsy, Pinterest, and Ravelry, etc.)
(Norman Norell evening coat of hand-dyed silk flowers, c. 1965. Gift of Mrs. Clarissa Dyer. Shown here at the FIDM museum and gallery “Fashion Makes Scents” exhibit.)
A few of my favorite websites to browse for design inspiration are these:
The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum and Galleries website: www.fidmmuseum.org.
The Fashion Institute of Technology Museum: www.fitnyc.edu/3662.asp
A comprehensive list of Costume and Textile Collection online presented by the Museum at FIT: http://fitnyc.edu/3425.asp
Vogue magazine is hands down my favorite fashion and design inspiration magazine! I also like WWD and W magazine. I can sometimes take an image of a model in jeans or skirt and top, or a simple dress with some great shoes, and ask myself what I could spin and knit or crochet that would complete or elevate her look. This is what I call, “fashion model as blank canvas”. It is by far one of my favorite methods to kick start the brainstorming process.
There are certain sites online that are very healthy inspirational tools for me, and others tend to be less than healthy relationships. One site I would like to talk about, for example, is Pinterest. I find that I like to find the inspiration in life rather spontaneously, but sometimes it’s tempting to go where I know there will be plenty of eye-candy images every time. Pinterest has something beautiful and inspiring to see every time, but it can really suck me in and be a major time drain. I have also found Pinterest to be a bit over-stimulating at times and almost the opposite of inspiring, it can be overwhelming. I really have to try to use this site only in very small doses and try to do a search only for specifically what I want to see, otherwise I find myself pinning home décor ideas and dreaming of my ideal home instead of working! It’s like when you are very hungry and you know you should just order something small and healthy but you go up to the buffet instead, because it’s fast and easy, it’s all laid out for you and it’s plentiful, but it’s not usually the most quality approach!
We could go on for a very long time about media, all the myriad of websites, magazines, journals, T.V. shows, etc. I think the most important thing with media is to not get too carried away with the searching and not to let it eat up all your time from actually working. It should be a tool to help your creative process in just the right ways! Finding the balance, and having the restraint to find your niche in the huge sea that is available out there, without drowning or getting too overwhelmed, is the hardest part. For me, one of the most helpful ways to navigate that sea is to find out from others of their favorite sites and publications and check them out for yourself. It is nice because we are all bombarded everyday with so much media that we have this other job of weeding through it all, and once we have done that we usually have our 2 or 3 quality blogs or websites that we check regularly. Sharing those with each other can really help!
Ultimately, this relationship, that we have with our ideas and sources of inspiration, is one that we can nurture with a little bit of attention and love! I have briefly discussed the top two most obvious and plentiful sources of inspiration…other artists, and media. There are so many more personal and more subtle sources of inspiration to cover, in future articles, and it is such an exciting and important topic. So, as I said before, it is one that we will revisit, in this column often.
Before we discover and share even more sources of inspiration together, I would like to share, next time, one thing that is just as important as inspiration itself, and that is ‘capturing the moment’. You know that moment when the light bulb goes off and you have this, often fleeting, surge of ideas flowing…well, we need to have the tools of getting those ideas down, out of our heads, and recorded for later.
Next time I would to share one of my favorite tools for doing this, the designer’s Quick Sketch! Made famous by fashion designers, for their glamorous illustrations, but used by all kinds of designers including landscape artists, movie directors, and architects, just to name a few, the quick sketch is an amazing tool for recording and working out the ideas that pop into your mind’s eye during those fleeting moments of inspiration.
Until then, take care! Xoxo ♥ Nicole