Here’s your step-by-step guide on how to get and stay inspired, every day, forever, no matter what! Just kidding, let’s be honest. Finding inspiration when you really need it is hard. I’ve had a lot of creative leanings in my life – from a fine arts degree to YouTube to hairdressing and a lot of odds and ends in between – and I’ve never found a foolproof way to just drink it in when I’m feeling blah. But! I’ve found some rabbit holes, things – and people – that are consistent sources of creative motivation in my life, and maybe you’ll find some of them helpful, too. So here they are.
YouTube. Some people see it as a void of nonsense where you are guaranteed to kill a lot of time and probably come out stupider for it. But when you’re looking for a way to just get out of your own head for a bit, there’s nothing quicker or more effective than letting YouTube take the reins.
I usually start somewhere I know I can count on: Jenn Im’s Clothes Encounters. Grace Helbig. Bunny Meyer. Even Jenna Marbles. These are women who are SO VERY DIFFERENT from me, and they help me escape whatever I’ve gotten tangled up about internally, and see things with a fresh energy. YouTube also has a mechanism that starts throwing more videos at you when one ends – convenient and dangerous – which can lead you to an hour (or more?) of kind of passive relaxation that you might not have known you needed. It sounds stupid, but sometimes stupid works.
Man Repeller. Another woman who brings me out of my own head is Leandra Medine. Sure, there are many more brilliant women who contribute to Man Repeller (not the least of which being her totally awesome partner in crime, Amelia Diamond), but she’s the one whose voice I can hear the most clearly in my head. She speaks candidly about her challenges in life, deep and shallow, and bucks a lot of preconceived notions about young women in the fashion industry, while unabashedly embracing others.
I think I find her most inspiring when she talks about personal style, which is a common theme on MR. She encourages me to try and fail in fashion, fail some more, and maybe ultimately find something cool on the other side. Plus she makes me feel a lot better about my sartorial “splurges” since her idea of a splurge usually has more digits on its price tag than mine. Nothing like a little creative comparison to make you feel less guilty about your lack of will power and memorization of your own credit card credentials.
Music. Not always, and not reliably, but I find that in order to find center again, sometimes I have to look backwards. Like, into my own history, for a landmark for when I felt totally awesome about myself and my creative instincts.
College was a more rebellious time for me, mainly because I was trying to achieve some unattainable level of crusty artist while trying to keep my job as a high end hair stylist. In Florida. Something about root-free double processed blonde hair and spray tan didn’t mesh well with my campus and nightlife persona, but what became of it was the physical embodiment of angst. And a proliferation of art.
My go-tos were very, very noisy. Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam album, Health’s self-titled record, Crystal Castles (which honestly brings back more non-memories than memories if you catch my drift), and if my nerves and liver could stand it, early Saves the Day and Sunny Day Real Estate. When I was sober, Beirut and Andrew Bird dignified my listening habits, but if I was in a painting blur, you can bet I was blasting For Reverend Green loud enough to feel the bass drum in my arteries. And you know what? It worked. It made me feel like someone else, or a more exaggerated version of myself. And I think you have to be there to be an “effective” artist.
It helped me nail down exactly how I was feeling, dismiss my other thoughts and feelings, and just let stuff happen, like creating a storm so I could meditate right in the eye of it. Oddly enough, I think that’s my creative comfort zone.
And yeah, I mean probably movies and TV are pretty good for inspiration, but I’m not about emulating a director’s aesthetic or a character’s style. Whenever someone tries to mock up exactly how a movie made them feel, it comes off as hamfisted and deliberate. When I’m looking to get inspired, I’m looking for something – a sight or a sound or a feeling – to make me want to be more me. That’s what can make it so elusive and sometimes disappointing to seek out those feelings. They’re hard to find, and like any high, they all become less thrilling with time.
And finally, a few things you won’t catch me doing:
- Creating a “mood board.” I can’t. I can’t with Pinterest and I can’t with collaging. Like I said, I don’t like to emulate. I want to channel the why behind something, not just the fact that it exists.
- Doing drugs. It’s the poor man’s enlightenment, to (very loosely) paraphrase Ram Dass. It’s never appealed to me, and I have no intention of starting now. Thanks but no thanks.
- Creating a “branded aesthetic.” This is a journey. When I decide I’ve arrived at my “destination,” aesthetically, I might as well be dead. You won’t see me branding myself as anything other than walking impulse. Style, art, creating anything, is supposed to be fun and exciting. Why make it harder on yourself by drawing imaginary boundaries? (Also, what the fuck is an Instagram theme?)
So if you have anything you go to for creative inspiration, hit me with it! I want to know all I can about quick and easy mind-broadeners, if such a thing exists. What are your best kept secrets for staying inspired?
photo via marahoffman.com – she inspires the fuck out of me