I’ve had a few people come to me in my store and say stuff like;
“You’re so lucky that ideas just come to you,”
“It must be so easy for you,”
“You must have quite the imagination,”
Not all of this is %100 true.
It’s true that I’ve had an overactive imagination since I was little, but that usually does go hand in hand with ADD so that’s really nothing overly special. I do often have, at the very least, four solid ideas floating around in my head on any given day, week or month. Neither of these facts mean that these ideas comes easy to me though(or that they’re all good) and I really wanted to talk to everyone today about inspiration and where ideas come from.
You see, when a mama and a papa love each other very much…..
Just fuckin with you.
Gravitating away from the birds and the bees and moving into what I find inspiring, maybe by reading this you all might find something to inspire you.
I know, everyone and their dog finds inspiration through music. I find though that music inspires us all in a different way. Some people will find inspiration in the tone of a song, others will find it in the words. How many of you have actually put on your headphones, zoned out and actually concentrated on the words of a song. Whether you take them literally or figuratively they can inspire you. I know that when I was first developing Tales of Lost I heard these songs called Fairytale by Saturday Night at the Apollo and Annie by Safetysuit. There was something about the way these songs played out and the way the lyrics just fit together that made me want to develop a story with a strong female protagonist that learns and grows throughout the series. A girl like the one described in the song Annie, someone that people couldn’t help but fall in love with her but a young woman who was also capable of the most fantastic things if she really worked hard and put her mind to it. She’s not perfect, and she stars off with very few useful skills, but she learns and that was what I wanted to stand out about her character. Neither song actually goes that in depth and describes a girl like that, but they did make me think of her.
Other songs can influence people in different ways. Maybe the tempo of the pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack (perhaps the song, He’s a pirate) makes you think of an epic fantasy with trolls and elves on a journey to achieve the true meaning of garlic mashed potatoes. Or perhaps That Britney Spears song on the radio makes you want to make a supervillain that’s a complete Diva and feels as though she deserves more that what has been given to her. Either way music can be a great source of inspiration.
2. Concept art
Movie concept art is the bomb! I find that by looking at movie concept art you get a better sense design and the whole idea planning process. Concept art reminds you that sometimes you need to take a step back and not fall in love with all your first ideas. I’m going to go ahead and use a recent example. Big Hero 6.
Look how different those early designs on the bottom are to the final designs on the top. Can you imagine how many thrown away concepts and drawings went into the final products?
Concept art has always inspired me to push my ideas and try new things out. If it doesn’t work, no biggie, but if it does you get something new and totally unique! It inspires me to never settle for my first ideas and to never be afraid of erasing and starting over. Even the greats do this. This can apply to visual design and idea forming.
Let’s say you have a story that just doesn’t make sense. The plot points just aren’t fitting together the way they should. Take a step back, throw a bunch of abstract ideas onto a page and start playing around with things. Suddenly you realise that the reason why the story wasn’t working was because you had it set in the wrong time or maybe the wrong location!
Don’t be afraid to play with your concepts and make mistakes. Concept art is a great reminder of that.
My favourite sort of art to draw inspiration from is Fashion design and character sketches.
Story prompt: Who are these bitches? They’re clothes are a bit futuristic underground Tokyo kind of feeling. Cat eared girl kinda looks like she is in some shady business… Maybe an underground hacking market in a future Tokyo? There ya go, a basic plot! An underground hacking network in a futuristic walled off Tokyo. Now from here start developing your own characters. No one likes people who steal designs! So head over to google!
I prefer things like street fashion and high fashion.
Just like that we have the beginnings of a possible plot. Once again though, remember that you can never settle on your first idea! This concept was concocted in less then ten minutes so if I were doing this seriously, in the end, I would probably not even use this in the end. I usually would go into tons of research about technology and where it could be headed in the next few years and then start to build up my world and probably end up just finding something better. Point is, it all started off from one image that sparked the imagination.
So there are my three main sources of idea inspiration. I should point out that I don’t use these methods all the time but they are handy for helping me further develop ideas if I’m having a particularly tricky time. I also feel as though I should make it very clear, NONE OF THESE ARE EXCUSES TO TAKE THE WORK OF OTHERS. If you find inspiration in the work of other people you must never steal their ideas! The above image of four kids hanging out belongs to the artist (I unfortunately found it on Pinterest with no artist named. Pinterest can be so bad for that…). I don’t know the story behind those kids which is why I chose that image as an example. At no point will I ever take the designs of those characters nor will I ever even remotely try to copy those characters, that’s stealing and it’s not cool.
I often find that people will blur the lines between inspiration and stealing and the fact that I need to make that distinction really does bother me as an artist.
Having said that I will leave you guys with one very important question to ask yourself when you are creating;
“What inspired this? Is it too close to it’s inspirational material?” If you answered Yes to the second question then you need to trash that idea and head back to the drawing board.
Try also asking a friend if they can spot any obvious inspirations. If your characters name is Jelsa and she is a queen with fire magic, don’t get offended when your friend tells you it’s basically Frozen but with more burning…
Anyway, good luck guys and happy creating!