Do you search for inspiration? Or do you create without it?

I was struggling to figure out what to write for today, but I think I’ll just write about something that’s just been on my mind last night and today. Instead of that review of Jasper Jones hihihi 😉

“Inspiration” is a funny word. Our environments inspire us to do things all the time, often without us realizing it. And we like to say, “omg that sunset on the Mediterranean coast we saw on vacation was just so inspiring”, yet it doesn’t actually compel us to do anything at all when we come back. Or maybe it just makes us think more about escaping drudgery. The subconscious works in mysterious ways.

I’ve been recently reading a few books on sports psychology, and a pop psychology book called Thinking Fast and Slow. It reminded me of the power of the subconscious to affect what we do on a day-to-day level, and I’ll be using these techniques to avoid making errors when under pressure. But most importantly, it’s the mechanism by which we become inspired – the random things that our subconscious notices and then politely suggests that we do something about.

A dance-artist (that I’m close with) in residence here in Brussels is attempting to create a dance choreography, but finds a lack of inspiration and only a mountain of pressure and expectation. Without being able to feel something real, how can she create something real? I sympathize with her. I know how disappointing it is to rewatch footage of myself dancing when I was feeling either scared, pressured, tense, or even bored. Pressured because I really wanted to win. Bored with the music played by the DJ. Scared by the reputation of the other dancer. Tense because I’ve been waiting all day for my turn to dance in the competition (for those that don’t know, I’m a bboy, ie breakdancer, and I go to competitions). It seems that in many industries and circles, there is a cultural expectation of artists being able to create gold in very short periods of time – like how we can a cell phone, 50″ television, movie, or rare prints shipped to us overnight.

The dancer likes to put it like this: the Sistine Chapel took 10 years to paint. If we want anything worthwhile, it takes time, otherwise we end up with something half-done that isn’t valuable to anyone. And what would the point be to create something that would be thrown away soon after?

She was talking about how this was really stressing her out last night, but thankfully we decided to change the angle of the performance, and now there is just the pressure of putting something together in the last few days of this residency.

Today we went to MIMA (I think it stands for Millenium Iconoclast Museum of Art), another private museum with a similar chutzpah to the MOMA, but much smaller scale. It’s a little more human and comprehensible, considering you can savour the whole thing in about an hour. The museum exclusively exhibited works by artists with at least a history in street art, while not unique, was still cool. I read about an artist from NY who is taking graff to the Internet by hacking websites (super cool!), and an artist who thinks that the whole point of street art is that it’s illegal, and that he would stop doing it if it were legal. Inspiring stuff (hah). But what was really cool was to read about how all these artists get inspired. You could see one end of the spectrum: the prolific Delta, who works all the time, who isn’t really working since it’s not work to him, and he just inspires himself to make things. It’s as though the street was his first canvas only because it was the most accessible. And the other end, where you have an artist like Barry McGee or Parra who say that their art is a reflection of their bike rides through San Francisco, or an idea that comes to them while they’re doing something banal like reading or listening to music. Inspiration comes to people differently, and I’m starting to realize how important it is to understand that, both for yourself, and for others.

Bringing it back to my dance-artist friend – she felt much better about herself. She no longer felt abnormal in wanting more time to become inspired to create something meaningful, because other artists are just like her! Surprise 😉

Of course, I hope that you, dear reader, don’t use it as an excuse to not practice. Practice is a bit different and separate from creation, where it’s ok to create something with zero expectation of it succeeding, but perhaps I’ll save that topic for another day, hehehe.

When was the last time you felt inspired? And what did it result in? I’d love to hear your stories 🙂

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