Tools for Mining Your Life for Creative Inspiration

Tools for Mining Your Life for Creative Inspiration

July 24, 2018

A question artists get a lot is ‘where do you get your ideas?’ It can be a difficult question to answer because they probably don’t know. I know I don’t really know, but I have come to appreciate what makes me feel alive; what puts me in the mood for creative play. Here’s a short list of personal sources of creative inspiration which influence me in my work directly and indirectly – this is how I step back, give myself space, find joy, and laugh. My best ideas haven’t come from being hyper serious and trying to be clever as I attempt to come up with something no one has ever thought of before. Of course not. They’ve come when I was going for a walk, looking at the bark on a tree, enjoying a glass of wine with a friend. 

I hope you find some of the ideas on this list helpful. I put this together just for you (although it was also a valuable opportunity to reflect on my own life and how I engage with inspiration. So thanks for that).

1. Spending Time in Nature 

Right from the beginning of my career as a jewelry designer, I found inspiration for my designs in nature. I’m very lucky to live in Vancouver, BC, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, serene lakes, breathtaking mountains, and peaceful forests. All the inspiration I could ask for could be found just by putting on some hiking boots or sneakers and heading out to one of Vancouver’s signature hiking spots. Some of my favourites are Quarry rock, Dog Mountain, Mount Seymour and Buntzen Lake.

Like I said, most of my designs are inspired by nature – from long treks over tree roots and natural bridges with a close friend or my partner. Here are a few of the designs I feel most proud of (although it’s hard to pick favourites):

There is something marvellous about nature.​ These hand brushed copper earrings are made with real birch bark. Earring hooks are made of 22kt gold plated wire.

 “The sun sees your body. The moon sees your soul" We love basking in the full moon, it's such a powerful entity. We honor the moon in our Moon Series. These moon over water sterling silver earrings are the perfect way honor this beautiful astronomical body.

Learn more about the design process by checking out our Inside the Devi Studio blog. 

Handmade feather earrings with copper beads and 22kt gold plated earring hooks.The feathers are ethically sourced from a family that lives in the Yukon. They hunt for all of their meat and when they catch the birds they send the feathers.

This pair of earrings features sterling silver handmade flowers and a 3mm aquamarine stone. Earring post is made of sterling silver.

Learn more about the design process by checking out our Inside the Devi Studio blog.

 

2. Yoga

My yoga practice relaxes me, while also giving me a strengthened relationship to my body. I also value the opportunity to practice with a group of people at different levels, and to share a communal experience of wellness. My practice calms my mind and helps me to step away from my work. When my mind is calm, ideas begin to flow.

Two of my absolute favourite studios in Vancouver are Move Yoga in New West and The Hive in North Vancouver. Here’s a bit about each business:

MOVE Yoga

“From authentic Yoga experiences and intense Pilates classes to exciting Dance workouts. MOVE is a multidisciplinary MOVEment studio in Sapperton’s Brewery District.”

Their mission is to “create a space that welcomes everybody. Where you feel comfortable and safe to find your bliss through MOVEmnt. We deliver quality and responsible teaching with the students interests in mind.”

Learn more about them by visiting their website: http://www.movenewwest.com/

The Hive

“Hive Climbing and Hive Yoga is the best of both worlds and the most fun you can have in North Vancouver. Hive Yoga is alive and actively changing, just like you. Our programs and lasses are designed to be adaptive to each individual with a focus on efficiency, recovery, interconnectivity, stability and grace. We have hired talented and asked them to teach what they love. Hive Yoga is geared not just for climbers hoping to use yoga to enhance their performance and heal sore muscles, but for anyone looking to relax, and enjoy a supreme experience.”

Learn more about them by visiting their website: https://hiveclimbing.com/northshore/abouthy/

 

3. Spending Quality Time With Loved Ones.

I feel very lucky to be surrounded by incredible friends and a supportive family. Conversations with loved ones nourish me and make me feel whole and loved. One of my favourite things to do with loved ones is to set out on Vancouver, walk along the beach and eventually grab a bite to eat. I have a number of favourite places to eat. Here are a few.

They have really snazzy new location downtown that’s worth checking out.  The food is delicious and of excellent value for the price.

Busy and intimate at the same time, this is one of my favourite places to chill. The food is delicious, and great for sharing with a friend or large group.

This place is busy, but it’s worth the wait. This is one of my favourite cafés in Vancouver. Luckily, they’ve expanded into a back room so you should (fingers crossed) be able to find a seat. I’m sure I’m not alone in using cafés as a spot to catch up with a friend, and Revolver mixes great atmosphere with delicious coffee.

 

4. Travelling

This is an obvious one, and yet it didn’t occur to me right away. Through this collective I’ve had the opportunity to work with artisans I’ve met in India, Guatemala, and Bali. As a jewelry designer I realized it was important to me that I know where my raw materials were coming from. In 2015 I spent several months travelling, looking for co-ops of artisans working in ethical atmospheres where they were fairly paid and empowered in their work. Through that intention, I’ve met wonderful groups of people and it has absolutely been a huge inspiration. Learn more about the people and co-operatives who provide the raw materials for my designs. Here are the fabric weavers and here are the gem cutters.

I also get inspiration from visiting museums, checking out the local architecture, and admiring the city’s graffiti. I’ve shared a few stories about my travels on my blog. Here are a couple of my favourite posts:

 

5. Meditation

Meditation is a practice I get a lot of benefit from when I find time do it. It’s tough isn’t it? At one point I set a challenge for myself to meditate every day, but rarely are things accomplished when we get angry at ourselves for not doing them. Which is what ended up happening. Along with meditation, a practice that I get a huge amount of benefit from is compassion.

That all said, when I do give myself the opportunity to truly sit in silence, my creative instincts start to buzz. It feels so good. If you’re like me, here are some resources I’ve found helpful (specifically the app) and perhaps you will too:

Calm Meditation App

“Calm is the #1 app for mindfulness and meditation to bring more clarity, joy and peace to your daily life. Start your journey to a calmer mind with the app that’s trusted by millions and featured in the New York Times.

Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners, but also includes hundreds of programs for intermediate and advanced meditators and gurus.

Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 minutes so you can choose the perfect length to fit with your schedule.” 

The Shambhala Centre in Vancouver

“The Vancouver Shambhala Meditation Centre offers a community grounded in a warm approach to the study and practice of meditation.

We provide instruction in mindfulness-awareness meditation for beginners and experienced practitioners, a diverse variety of evening and weekend programs as well as group meditation sessions. We offer tools to help discover greater compassion, confidence, wisdom and joy in day-to-day life. The Shambhala teachings provide a way to extend personal transformation for the benefit of society as a whole.” 

 

6. Sleeping

Getting an ample amount of sleep and feeling well rested helps me to feel creative. I use a meditation sleep app to help me fall asleep at night, and usually end of having really great deep sleeps as a result. Obviously I feel nourished and ready to be creative after a good night of deep zzzzs.

Do you get enough sleep? This is actually a topic I’m pretty interested in, and really enjoyed what sleep expert and neuroscientist Dr. Matthew Walker had to say on the topic on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. In this podcast, they discuss sleeping in foreign environments, sleep and drugs, naps, dreams, stages of sleep, what happens when you don’t get enough sleep, advice for falling asleep, sleep and evolution. Listen here.

Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. He is the author of ‘Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams’. Check it out.

 

7. Going to Art Galleries

I recently had the opportunity to see the work of Japanese artist Takashi Murakami at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The exhibit featured a variety of work from his three-decade long career. Everything was so colourful and animated and it was a true joy to see his growth as an artist. You could se how, with time, be became more confident with his craft as he made increasingly bold choices. 

Unfortunately, that exhibition ended on May 6th, but there are lots of other exhibitions that are certainly worth a perusal at the Vancouver Art Gallery coming up. I love going to exhibits to observe an artist’s process. I find it inspirational, and often leave with a desire to challenge myself. Here are a few of their exhibits that are on now:  

  • David Milne: Modern Painting: June 16 to September 9, 2018
    David Milne: Modern Painting documents an artistic career that spanned the first half of the twentieth century, bringing together almost ninety works in oil and watercolour, never-before-exhibited photographs and drawings by the artist, and memorabilia collected by Milne during his time in Europe as an official war artist.
  • Kevin Schmidt: We are the Robots: July 14 to October 28, 2018
    The exhibition features recent sculpture and video installations by Kevin Schmidt, a British Columbia–based artist whose multidisciplinary practice draws upon aspects of Conceptual Art and performance art while embodying the do-it-yourself (DIY) sensibilities of an amateur inventor.

 

8. Reading a Good Book

Ever since I was a child, I have loved to read. I’ve always had an active imagination and I can get carried away by a good book of fiction. I tend to gravitate towards books that feature really strong women and that have beautiful imagery. I also really like books that have multi-layer stories – the perspectives of several characters interwoven into one engaging narrative. Books based on historical events also catch my interest.

Reading inspires me by calming my mind. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, a good book can divert my focus away from whatever is causing me stress and help me to relax. When I can focus on something different for a little while, I can approach the source of stress later with a relaxed nervous system and fresh eyes. This is also a helpful strategy for working through a creative problem (like when I was trying to figure out how to make my birch bark earrings. That design took awhile to figure out, and definitely required some time away to decompress from the creative challenge they posed).

A little while back, I shared three books that had a personal impact on me as part of my ‘Get Intimate with Devi’ series. Those books were The Death of Vishnu’ by Manil Suri and The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy. Read the blog.

 

9. Attending a Live Show

I love going to concerts and musicals. The atmosphere created from the artist and performer(s) is usually so electric and I almost always leave in a good mood. A smile is a great starting point for creativity. One of my recent favourite musicals that I attended was The Lion King at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

 

10. Picking Up a New Creative Hobby

It’s helpful to step away from your primary means of being creative and give yourself some perspective. It can be hard to truly ‘play’ at a craft you care deeply about, but play is such an important part of creativity.

 In my own creative life, I’ve reintroduced drawing. On a quiet night sometimes I take out a sketch pad and start sketching. Usually it’s something I see outside. I never stop being inspired by nature. Something else I’ve started doing is colouring! I find it extremely calming and cathartic. Here’s a cool colouring book to try out:

The Colour-In Book by local Vancouver artist Denise Fort

This colouring book is printed on 100% recycled paper using sustainable print methods. 




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