“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing.
Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
Carl McCoy, the leader of the band Fields of the Nephilim—whose music was a big inspiration behind Moonchild—once said that what stirs his creativity, eventually leading him to composing an album, are paintings. He likes to visit museums and lose himself in the visual arts. In them, he hears the echo of his songs.
The author Henry James was also known for his affinity for paintings, which found reflection in his prose. Dancer and choreographer, Akram Khan, finds his inspiration in observing people and absorbing the frenzy of city streets. Georgia O’ Keeffe found it in landscapes. Picasso found it in the shape of a spider web. Paul Cezanne drew from the symphony of his emotions. Henry David Thoreau filled his creative well with what to some of us may pass as mundane workings of nature.
Art has a movement. Its expression springs from deep within. But it usually has an impetus, a catalyst outside the artist. Our senses draw us towards things that resonate with us at a core level. We connect with them, often without giving the process another thought. The thing that may just inspire a great piece of art could be triggered by a smell of something that brings us back to our childhood.
“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is hardly a writer interview without this question being asked: where do you get your ideas from? It is such a tough question to answer. That’s because the process and especially the moment when an idea emerges or enters an artist’s mind is very personal and ephemeral.
Each day of our lives we accumulate experiences that find their reflection in patters of thought. When stimulated in a new way, those patterns can spontaneously reconfigure allowing us to momentarily see things in a new light. We call such moments insights or inspirations.
For me, the majority of my inspirations seems to come from two primary places. The first is time.
Since I was about nine, my mind’s been attracted to pondering the mystery of our origins. Where did we come from? Where are we going? Since at least until we fashion a time machine, the answer to such questions will have to remain in the field of speculation, I’ve found great relief in imagination. So I let my mind wander, reconstructing ancient cities of Egypt and Sumer and letting characters roam the streets. What are they thinking about? What do they want? I wonder. And it sets my mind on fire.
On the flip side of my fascination with the ancient past is the automatic query—where are we all headed? The breakneck momentum of our existence, when traced to the 1900s and slingshot forward, can astound with richness of ideas. If we have gone from horses and buggies to landing on the Moon in less than a hundred years, what else could be in store for us in the coming decades? Actually living on Mars? Taking weekend trips to Jupiter?
The second source of inspiration for me has always been music. At fourteen, I remember sitting on the floor of my room with my friend and describing to him the visuals coming to me as we were listening to Moonchild by Fields of the Nephilim. I spent the rest of that evening in a kind of a drunken haze, intoxicated by the thought—I know what I want to do in my life. I want to make pictures for music!
Well, it didn’t turn out exactly that way. I didn’t become a video director. But in that moment, my brain made an important connection—a bridge connecting two forms of art.
We all borrow from each other. The world is teeming with ideas left behind by creative minds. We are living in an increasingly interconnected reality where we come in contact with many forms of art every single day. What a fascinating existence this gives rise to!
“To be an artist is to believe in life.”
More than ever now, our planet needs solutions in order to set a course of our future. I’m curious, what kinds of things inspire you? What drives you to wake up every single day and create? Do you know where that impetus comes from?
I’d love this little corner to become a place where we exchange ideas and thoughts. I’d like to know from you, how you see the world and what gets you going? Where do you find meaning? Please share in the comments below. If you feel inspired.