I would like to pick up the thread from the post Diversify and Become More Creative I wrote two weeks ago. There I pointed to the value of collecting dots – and then connecting the dots – from a variety of sources. By dots I mean whatever may inspire us as creative persons, not only known dots or dots we already cherish, but particularly dots from outside of our vocabulary so to speak; dots that are far out from our usual likes and our usual comfort zone and even opposing our customary world view. Yes, particularly that! The more deviating dots; the more creative connections may we develop, and the more new and original ideas may we eventually develop.
In a way, you can see the artist as a collector of ideas and sources. Wherever you see an idea that you like, see something that triggers you; collect it. Whenever you get an idea yourself; write it down. Your job, if you do creative work at whatever level that is, is to collect ideas. The more ideas you collect, the more you can chose from to be influenced by. Of this, of course, follows that you need to be able to write down ideas whenever they occur. Don’t wait till you get «home», by then it will all be forgotten. I don’t know how many brilliant ideas I have lost in oblivion only to see another person bring the same idea to life some time later. If I had only written it down right away before it went into the big sack of forgotten ideas! So, yes, I have definitely learned my lesson.
Thus, carry a notebook and a pen with you wherever you go. Get used to pulling it out and jotting down your thoughts and observations. Copy your favourite passage out of books. Record overheard conversations. Doodle when you are on the phone. Do you see a photograph in a magazine you like? Cut it out and glue it into the notebook. Put copies of your own photographs in there, too. Go to whatever length to make sure you always have paper on you. And if that sound like a cumbersome or unrealistic idea to you, use your cell phone as a notebook. That’s what I have been doing the last couple of years.
By now my cell phone is so full of notes that I have had to transfer them to my computer on a regular basis. For me the cell phone is just a practical and handy tool for this, since I always bring it along. Nevertheless, I still have to admit there is a special feeling to an old fashion notebook made of paper. It’s almost as it brings about more inspiration by just being what it is. If you want to see something spectacular in this direction, pick up one of the photo books by Peter Beard. They are all based on his extraordinarily beautiful notebooks.
Your collection of ideas and inspirations will become your family of stimuli. Whereas you don’t get to pick your genetic family, you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you watch. The things is, you are or become a mash up of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer, philosopher and artist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: «We are shaped and fashion by what we love.»
I love nature in all it’s variety. I love the smell of rain. I love listening to Peter Gabriel; and Of Monsters and Men (a band from Iceland). I love films by Luc Besson – in particular his Angel-A. I love work by Gilles Peress and Brooke Shaden (just to mentioned few photographers – very few that is). I love travelling. I love the writings of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I love my kids. I love my wife. I love tzatziki. I love teaching.
What do you love and what are you influenced by?