Inspiration is overly abundant

We moved to Italy when I was twelve, and for years, my Italian was only okay and media was hard to get. The internet existed, but we had dial-up, and there wasn’t much on it. No e-books, no social media. As an art kid, I remember how hard it was to find new things to consume for inspiration. I devoured anything I could get my hands on, wringing any ideas out of it I could. An American friend of my mother’s gave me her old copies of Elle detailing unwearable makeup trends that existed only in New York two years previously. I read them until they fell apart and then cut them up and glued them into a notebook for figure drawing reference. I read my favorite fantasy book series until the books fell apart, then created an encyclopedia for them that I distributed on my GeoCities fan site as a text file. Anything that came into my orbit got every bit of inspiration wrung out of it and reused until I found something else.

As an adult, I am struck by how long it has been since I felt that way. I have constant access to a dizzying amount of inspiration, and the stuffed Pinterest boards, Tumblr account, Photos app, Kindle, and bookshelves to prove it. These days, we all do.

The problem with inspiration is that it’s only half the equation: Creativity is a cycle