American painter George Bellows (1882-1925) once stated, "The artist is the person who makes life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious, or probably, in the best sense, more wonderful." This is a tall order for the artist. With such expectations you are not alone if you feel daunted by the prospect of creating artwork, and not the only one who finds it hard to know where to begin. To help you to discover a starting point, this chapter reveals how to find inspiration, how to make visual use of the world around you and how to apply your observations in creating innovative fashion illustrations, designs and artwork.
Where exactly do you look for inspiration? As British designer Sir Paul Smith says: "You can find inspiration in everything ... and if you can't, you're not looking properly—so look again." This is good advice. Inspiration for creative artwork is everywhere. Begin by wandering around your home, looking at it with fresh eyes. You will be surprised how mundane, everyday objects suddenly have new meaning and potential. The old wallpaper in the sitting room could be a good background for an illustration, or a photograph of your sister may supply the perfect fashion figure silhouette for a template. The illustration on the facing page has been drawn directly onto old-fashioned wallpaper.
When you open your eyes to ihe world you will discover that it is overflowing with potential to trigger your imagination. Don't be put off if you find that your ideas already exist somewhere else. The truth is that few ideas are entirely new; as Pablo Picasso said: "Everything you can imagine is real." However, when you bring to the idea your own personal response, you provide an original interpretation.
Like all artists, designers and illustrators look for sources of inspiration to develop their work and focus on absorbing new ideas all the time. Read a variety of books and magazines, familiarizing yourself with interior trends, music and lifestyle editorials, as well as fashion. Theatrical costume and set design can also stimulate interesting ideas. Never be without a camera or sketchbook to capture and record inspirational scenes, objects or people.
Experiencing other environments through travel stimulates creative imagination and need not Involve the expense of going overseas. If you live in the city, visit the countryside, and vice versa. If you arc lucky enough to travel abroad, visit local markets and communities, observe traditional costumes and everyday clothing, eat new foods and recognize cultural differences. By embracing the experience, you will come away from your trip with a wealth of inspiration.
Keep up to date with the news and world events, television and film releases. Monitor changes and behavioural shifts in big cities around the world, watching for new trends in cities such as New York, London, Tokyo, Paris and Copenhagen. For example, how might you apply the trend for knitting caftfs in New York or permanent spray cosmetics (whereby colours are applied permanently like a tattoo) in Tokyo to your artwork? And never underestimate the importance of visiting galleries and museums. No matter how seemingly irrelevant to fashion contemporary art exhibitions might sometimes seem, it is worth visiting them. Often the exhibition you least expect to enjoy delivers the most inspiring results.
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