Interplay and inspiration


Yesterday, Spy Scribbler wrote about author Neil Gaiman, and how reading Gaiman’s work helped to resolve some challenges with a piece of writing on Spy’s desk.

This got me thinking about all the ways that writers and artists influence one another.  In our discussions about creativity here at Brainripples, several readers have mentioned how visiting museums, listening to music, or reading the works of others help to inspire them and their work.

In our most recent Feature Artist Interview, Eric Keast mentions a current project he’s working on by creating interpretive art in response to the work of The Lampi Oracle.  The recent book (and now movie), Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier is a complete work of fiction inspired by the painting by Johannes Vermeer, dubbed “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (titles were not always found for Vermeer’s works).

Beyond the act of inspiration, artists also help one another to solve artistic problems, just as Spy Scribbler mentions.  This isn’t necessarily a direct exchange – if I’m stuck on a poem, I’m just as likely to find a solution in a dance or a painting as I am to find help in another artist’s poetry.  I think that the interplay between words, images, motion, sound, and even tastes and smells can be the catalyst to renewing creativity, or providing the friction needed to spark a solution.

Can you think of a time that an artist, writer, or particular piece helped you to overcome an obstacle in your own work?  Perhaps you can think of a song, a story, or a painting which directly inspired a creation of your own?  Have you ever created something directly in response to the work of another? 


6 Responses to Interplay and inspiration

  1. spyscribbler says:

    You know, I take great inspiration in music (go figure). In both classical performers and writers, I notice one thing that sets them apart: unfailing pacing and rhythm. That and discipline work, and an incessant pursuit of excellence.

    Btw, did I tell you that I think you’ve got the coolest blog out there? I’m serious, I’m pretty darn certain I’ve never said that before. I love how you combine the different arts, all in one place!

  2. Lene says:

    I hadn’t considered “friction” in creating the spark, but it is often friction that feeds the fire. Great insight!

  3. Bernita says:

    Paintings and poets provide themes and can flick the imagination like a Bic.

  4. jason evans says:

    I use music often for inspiration. It really helps recreate a feeling, the presence of a certain emotion. I can then harness that for a particular scene.

  5. Ester says:

    I sometimes find that just glancing through other artists’ work allows me to see so many more outstanding levels of creativity, that I can set my own bar of expectations at a higher level. It’s almost as if it becomes easier when I see that other people are already doing great things, bigger and better than my own. It becomes easier (and more fun) for me to work harder and deeper in creativity.

    Most certainly people find inspiration from all kinds of mediums. Some people use emotional responses to produce ideas, and some use question/answer logic thinking. I’m sure that everything in the world has potential to pull out creativity within people. It may just depend on how much you’re willing to let it come out, how willing you are to be fascinated by the world.

  6. JLB says:

    Spy Scribbler, thank you so much for the compliments! I’m flattered… I know just what you mean about the pacing and rhythm in music. A lot of my poetry can flow from that rhythm… but I have to be careful when I write with the music on, or a poem which might otherwise have a completely different cadence will emerge with the background pulse of the song playing while I wrote!

    Lené, I think I find inspiration from that friction in other parts of my life too – dramatic change, challenge, or even (dare I say) crisis can often turn on the writer in me like a faucet!

    Bernita, I agree – paintings can offer such a unique perspective on the world, that as the eye wanders around wondering as to how it all got put together, one inevitably lands somewhere that doesn’t make immediate sense, and makes us wonder, “Now why the heck did the artist do that – and what does it mean?”

    Jason, thank you for pointing that out! YES! The emotional atmosphere is a critical element in helping to direct our creative energy. That’s also an influence in the type of work I might select – will it elevate me, or anger me, or energize me, or stir around my despair? Well said.

    Ester, “how willing you are to be fascinated by the world” Again, well said.

    I really love how you’ve pointed out that seeing the greatest work of others inspires you to do more. Too often I think artists get bogged down in the need to be “better than,” instead of celebrating and embracing the community of creation in general. I completely agree – seeing all the remarkable things that others creates helps liberate my imagination to pursue something more.

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