One of the most surprising sources of creative inspiration for writers, artists, comic-makers etc… can often be when you really like a few things that have been made by someone (or a few things in a particular genre), but don’t really consider yourself to really fully be a “fan” of everything that falls into this category.
To give you a musical example, there are four songs by AC/DC that I absolutely love (eg: “Thunderstruck”, “Hell’s Bells”, “Highway To Hell” and “Back In Black”, in that order). But, those few songs aside, I’m not really an AC/DC fan. To give you a literary example, I’m not really a fan of fantasy literature, even though I absolutely love some of the George R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett and Clive Barker novels that I’ve read in this genre.
So, you might think, what on earth does any of this have to do with creative inspiration? After all, most people like a few things by someone or a few things in a particular genre, without being a fan of literally everything.
It’s important for creative inspiration for the simple reason that having a few of these “partial fandoms” can help you to come up with a unique mixture of inspirations for the things that you create. After all, if you only like one author in a particular genre or a few things made by someone, then this usually prompts you to ask “Why? What makes these things different?“. Once you’ve found the answer, you can use it to improve and expand the things you create.
For example, one reason why I like a few fantasy authors, despite not being a major fan of the fantasy genre as a whole is because they often do things like incorporating elements from the horror and/or comedy genres into the fantasy genre.
So, if I made a piece of fantasy-themed artwork, I’m going to do something a bit similar – like in this reduced-size preview of an upcoming piece of medieval fantasy-style artwork of mine:
Although I was in the mood for making fantasy-themed artwork at the time, I remembered the lessons I’d learnt from the few things I love in the fantasy genre and added some elements from the horror genre. For example, the ominous dark robes that the archer is wearing were mostly inspired by the evil cultists in a horror-themed computer game called “Blood“. Likewise, the menacing fiery lighting was inspired by various scenes from “Game Of Thrones“. Not to mention that my general attitude towards colour and lighting was inspired by some of my more major inspirations like the cyberpunk genre, old heavy metal album covers etc…
Of course, if I was much more of a fan of the fantasy genre, the painting would probably look different. It’d probably be brighter and more detailed. It would probably include a complex background and mythical beings (eg: elves, dragons, goblins etc..), rather than a dark and impressionistic medieval castle in the background. If I’d had a lot more fantasy-based inspirations, the picture would look very different as a result.
Likewise, if I’m going to include fantasy elements in a short story, then I’m probably going to add a lot of comedy too. For example, in this short fantasy-themed cyberpunk story of mine from late 2016, I don’t take the fantasy elements of the story even close to seriously, and I had a lot of fun writing it even though I certainly wouldn’t consider myself to be a “fantasy author”.
So, being a partial fan of something can actually improve your creativity and help you to feel inspired for the simple reason that it reminds you that good creative works come from having a mixture of different inspirations. Likewise, it can also help to expand the range of different things that you feel that you can create.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂