Many of you ask me…
“How do you come up with your illustration? Is it purely from your imagination?”
Yes and no. Quite often, I find a trigger. That trigger is something I see that instantly floods a million ideas into my head… ideas I can clearly see. It can be something I see while on a walk outdoors, driving in the middle of nowhere, or an image I come across online. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where inspiration begins… as it’s all around us if we look for it.
For example, last November I went to see the Nutcracker here in Boston. The Boston Opera House is a place straight out of a dream… and the show itself was absolutely mesmerizing (which I’ve told you about a million times by now!). There was just something about sitting in that theater and watching the show that struck me. It wasn’t just about what was happening on stage… it was about the audience and the entire atmosphere. It was the captivation on everyone’s faces, something you don’t often see in everyday situations. How everyone was dressed up, and how that may have looked sixty years ago. That idea stuck with me. Not long after that, I re-watched Finding Neverland, a movie I’ll never tire of… which drew upon that idea.
All of those thoughts and ideas formed this image in my mind, and that’s how she came to be. Although, finding inspiration to form an idea is only one step of the way. The process of bringing that idea to life is something that needs to be inspired as well. For me, that’s where music comes in. I’ve been surrounded by music and musicians my entire life. When I’m trying to ‘get in the zone’ to illustrate a new piece, nine times out of ten music will do the trick. It’s important for me to play the right songs for the mood of the piece and what I want to convey. It’s incredible how much more meaningful my work turns out when it has a soundtrack. For this particular piece, I listened to mostly movie soundtracks and jazz. Listening to music with words can sometimes be distracting to me… it’s almost as if my brain is focusing on the lyrics instead of what I’m working on. Although, sometimes music with words works… I’m a huge fan of Lester Young and Billie Holiday!
“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” – Plato
All in all, how you get inspired is very much different for everyone… what do you do to spark your imagination?
Here’s a playlist I created with some of my favorite work music.