Although this is an article about how to use your own experiences and knowledge to create interesting and distinctive things, I’m going to have to spend the next five or six paragraphs talking about the failings of the mainstream news media. There’s a reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.
A few months ago, I was reading the news online when I had a type of experience that always surprises me whenever it happens. It was prompted by an article about sales tactics in casinos of all things.
It was one of those moments when I suddenly thought “This is only just news now? I knew about this eight years ago!” shortly after remembering a conversation with someone I knew at the time, who once mentioned how a casino he’d worked at one summer basically gave out free sandwiches etc.. to the regulars as a matter of routine, to get them to stay.
This, naturally, made me think about the limitations of journalism. Namely, that journalists often tend to be literal years behind whenever it comes to reporting on various obscure subjects. Anything that seems to fall outside of the mainstream, anything that isn’t trending on Twitter etc… often doesn’t tend to get reported.
But, it’s often surprising how many blind spots the mainstream media has when it comes to various topics. For creative people, this can – of course- be an absolute goldmine when it comes to inspiration.
Chances are, there’s probably something important, interesting and/or fascinating in your life experience or your knowledge that hasn’t been widely reported. Or, something that interests you which is virtually unknown by mainstream culture (eg: a musical genre, an obscure sub genre of fiction/cinema etc..). Using this for inspiration will, of course, make the things you create stand out from the crowd quite a bit.
Of course, some topics can seem too personal or too political to really be useful for inspiration. But, if you can find one that you feel comfortable writing about, making comics about or making art about, then you can really create something distinctive that feels relevant.
To use a fairly apolitical example, 1990s nostalgia is one of those things that hasn’t quite become fully mainstream in the way that – say- 1980s nostalgia has. Sure, you can find a lot of 1990s nostalgia on the internet but – since most of the people in the mainstream media are just slightly too old to really have childhood nostalgia about the 1990s – it doesn’t really appear as prominently as it probably will in five to ten years time.
So, naturally, it’s a topic that I tend to write about, make art about and make comics about quite a lot. Since it both fascinates me and because there really isn’t enough stuff about it out there yet. In fact, here’s yet another reduced-size preview of a painting from a 1990s-themed art series that I’ll be posting here near the end of the month.
In addition to all of this, drawing on obscure topics from your knowledge and/or experience can also make your creative works more interesting for the simple reason that – with more obscure topics – you give your audience a chance to feel like they’re ‘in the know’ or that they’re learning things that they wouldn’t learn from more mainstream sources.
So, yes, obscure topics (even only very mildly obscure ones, like 1990s nostalgia) can make your creative works significantly more unique and interesting.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂