As an artist, I have learned that inspiration can come from anywhere. That’s why I think it’s important to balance your play time with your work hours. To be creative, you need to open yourself up to new people, new places, new experiences and gain input, so that your creative well keeps flowing. Too many times I’ve seen artists get stuck in a rut and become uninspired. They can’t think of anything new because they themselves aren’t inspired.

“Because of our routines we forget that life is an ongoing adventure.” Maya Angelou

As a graphic designer, I’m constantly hit with clients needing creative ideas. If I let myself, I could work 24/7 and never come up for air. Experience has taught me that if I did this, eventually I would run out of ideas and suffer burn out. This is why I make sure that I schedule in enough play time to fill the well. I can’t be a good source for creative ideas, when I never do anything new to inspire me.

For me, play time encompasses many different events. I don’t actually have to be “at play”. I can be inspired just going to a fabric store and looking at all the fabric. Color and pattern surround me in a way that is different for the average fabric shopper. I get inspired by the artwork these fabric artists have created and mentally store away the visual find. The same holds true with a walk in the park or a trip to the beach. Nature is my visual artist and I draw inspiration from its artwork. The pattern of petals on a flower, the color of the changing leaves in fall, almost anything can be my inspiration.

People and places can also be your muse. Take a walk down a crowded city street and listen to the street performers playing their music, or wander through a farmer’s market and be inspired by the rows of colorful fruits and veggies. Look at the patterns created by the building materials in the surrounding architecture. Even in a crowded city where nature seems to hide, there are places and people who will arouse your creative side.

When you’re an artist, you view the world a little bit differently. Where some would see a tree, you would see light and shadow and texture. There is so much input out there, just waiting to be gathered up and stored in your creative well. So much that’s taken for granted when you repeat the same actions, day after day. Bust out of that rut that you’re stuck in. Take yourself to someplace you’ve never been. Push yourself to meet people you’d not normally meet in your day-to-day tasks. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It’s amazing how much it inspires the creativity in your soul.