Pencil designed by Andrew Shalansky from the Noun Project

Pencil designed by Andrew Shalansky from the Noun Project

You could spend entire work days browsing galleries and portfolios online hoping to find a spark for your own creative ideas. Unfortunately the pursuit of inspiration is a way to feel productive without actually producing anything.

Designer David Mikula recommends that instead of wasting our time looking for inspiration, we should spend it making our own inspiration, even if the experience makes us feel dumb. Over on Medium, Mikula writes:

You surf. You tumbl. You pin. You FFFFound. You “curate” popular, proven work. You find hundreds of niche, beautiful examples of success. Dozens of formulas that look like they can be applied to your project. You show your team and clients work that other people have created.

When you’re learning to think for yourself, this is fantastic. But when you’re producing creative work, it’s not. That is not the creative process.

The more you look for inspiration: the less you make. When you put that much energy into watching other people make: you begin to think it’s impossible to do great work of your own.

You have to dive in. You have to make yourself uncomfortable….Where do you start? Start by sharing your point of view. Talk to your friends, your team. Whomever. The moment your idea is in the world, it’s going to get pushed around a lot. If it continues to make sense, then you have an opportunity. And you made it—you made your own opportunity.

Inspiration is often a way to make ourselves feel creatively energized and busy, but when it comes to being more productive or creative, that’s where the activity falls short. The hours you spend browsing sites for creative inspiration is time you could have instead spent making your own ideas and learning from the experience.

The best creative work doesn’t come from time spent looking for inspiration, it comes as a result of tirelessly generating, sharing, and exploring ideas. Often times that exploration will make you feel dumb, but as Mikula writes: “It’s okay to be dumb. It’s hard to be smart all the time.”

  • Abhi

    Truly said…I often find myself amidst endless quest…This article helped..

  • dancy

    Interesting use of colons. A comma would have worked better.

  • Esben

    This is so much me… I wonder what I could have created using all the hours I’ve spent “looking for inspiration”… Like I should be sketching right now instead of reading mails 🙂

  • johnTnash

    I can’t tell you how many times this thought has crossed my mind. Nailed it.

  • Rositsa Zaharieva

    I am to blame for this one. I have spent countless hours looking at other people’s work, not just for inspiration but also comparing myself to them and hoping to learn something. What basically happens is: I look at a certain artwork, I admire it, I stare at it and decide I can do the same – in terms of detail, for example. Then I eventually start drawing / painting myself only to find out I have no idea what I’m doing. Way too much to learn before I could to certain things, as it turns out. THAT makes me feel dumb. But I think I’ve found a way around that. I’m currently studying one of Andrew Loomis’ books and it really HAS helped me tremendously already, even though it offers an approach I was familiar with before. But devoting some time to study and practice has really paid off, as it seems. Practice is boring, I know. And like many of us I’m eager to paint that masterpiece that will blow people’s minds. But until I learn what I need to learn, simply thinking about it won’t do the trick.

    Thanks for the reminder.I really appreciate that gentle kick in the butt 🙂

  • ac
  • D

    I know it makes for better reading to focus on a single theme but in my opinion it’s a balancing act (like so many other things). Sketch, draw, doodle, etc. AND be inspired what’s being created by others. I avoid talking to others about my ideas, it tends to cost me ages just trying to explain what I’m trying to do 😀

  • aj

    I gotta admit, you have a great point. Something I’ve been guilty of myself at times. No longer.

  • Nathan Ambrose

    So true. Far better to just go for a walk. That’s also easy to prove scientifically.

  • Qais Azhar

    Thank you for sharing you experience.

  • Anil Singh


    Thank you!!

  • Internet Local Listings

    Yep! This is so true. There’s a difference between looking for inspiration every once in a while (We all need a little push every now and then), and collecting inspiration before doing ANYTHING AT ALL. Great advice!

  • Gail Gaspar

    Well said! To curate and gather without boundaries or without setting expectations for our own body of work actually drains the creative process (though the mind will try to convince us otherwise!). Thanks for the post.

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