Although it’s great to find something that constantly serves as a major inspiration for your creative works, it’s usually a good idea to have more than one main inspiration. This is mostly because, as I’ve mentioned many times before, having multiple inspirations is the key to creating original things.
If you only have one inspiration, then anything you create will be a second-rate imitation of that one thing. However, if you have multiple inspirations, then anything you create will be a unique mixture of elements from these things. In other words, it will be noticeably different to any one thing.
So, how do you make sure that you have more than one main inspiration?
Simply put, you do research. And you have fun whilst you do it. A good way to start is to look at your main inspiration and search the internet for information about anything that is similar to it. Once you’ve found lots of things, try to buy as many of them as you can afford to do so and study them carefully.
Seeing how other people have used similar influences will not only help you to find your own approach to the genre in question, but it will also widen your understanding and give you a slightly larger mix of inspirations to draw from.
For example, the largest influence on a lot of my art is the movie “Blade Runner“. Within the past 2-3 years, I’ve been on the lookout for things that are similar – but different- to this film. This has had a large influence on my art. For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of a cyberpunk painting that I’ll be posting here next month:
Although the decision to use a gloomy cyberpunk-style lighting scheme came straight from “Blade Runner”, my approach to the location design was probably more influenced by the futuristic Japanese locations in the “Ghost In The Shell” anime franchise. Likewise, my approach to handling colour in this painting (and most of my more recent paintings) was inspired by the colour schemes in this set of science fiction-themed “Doom II” levels. Yet, the final painting doesn’t look exactly like any one of these three things since I used a mixture of inspirations, albeit relatively similar ones.
But, of course, the best types of creativity come from having lots of radically different main inspirations. So, how do you do this? Here are the two most basic ways.
The first is simply to just stay on the lookout for cool stuff. If you read, watch, see or play something that really makes an impression on you, then ask yourself why? Take a close look at the thing in question and try to work out what general elements (eg: qualities that can be described in no more than 2-3 words) appeal to you. Once you’ve found these qualities, then try to find a way to incorporate them into your own art.
The second is to realise that you probably already have more than one main inspiration, even if you don’t realise it. After all, you’ve probably been a fan of more than literally just one thing at various stages in your life. You’re probably a fan of more than one thing right now. However, if you focus on one thing by considering it to be your “main inspiration”, you don’t tend to think about the other things so much -even if they might have an influence on what you create.
So, look carefully at the things that you really like (but don’t consider to be “main influences) and you might start to notice the effect that they’ve had on your creative works. These effects may be more subtle than the things that you consider to be your “main influence” (since you’ve probably taken inspiration unconsciously, rather than consciously), but they will probably exist in some way or another.
Once you’ve found them, then try taking inspiration from these things more consciously (eg: in the same way you do with your “main influence”).
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂