A brilliant idea can change your life. Just ask Steve Jobs. And think about it – how would one incredible idea affect your work? How would it affect your personal creating? Your career? Your confidence and opportunities?
These days, new ideas aren’t just inspiring; they’re essential. A narrow-gauge mindset doesn’t work in modern business. Consumers aren’t loyal to cheap commodities. No, they love the remarkable, the human, the unique. And those ideas don’t just fall from the sky. (Usually.)
So where do they originate? Since Scott Hull Associates is in the business of ideas, I figured our artists ought to know. They surprised me with their answers, citing everything from “cross-pollinating synergetic associations” to cracks in the driveway. Enjoy.
Aren’t you silly…Ideas come from the stork, just like babies. – Andrea Eberbach
From an ever expanding and curious mind. –Von Glitschka
I’m not sure where they come from, but I’m pretty sure – starting in 2012 – that there will be a federal tax on them. -Mark Riedy
Personally, I group them into two broad categories: surprise ideas and task-oriented ideas. There’s an enormous area of interaction and cross-pollination between these, but if I think about it, most everything I do whether art-related, fixing a faucet or otherwise, fits somewhere in the continuum. In the area of ideas for art, surprise! Ideas are just that — out of nowhere, triggered by who-knows-what…smells, memories, dreams, emotions, even stress. Task-oriented ideas are usually, at least for me, more forced and rarely complete at the beginning — they need refinement and tuning, and the trick is to retain something good and fresh enough to keep through that refinement process. Most won’t make it to the end, and many aren’t worth fooling around with from the beginning, but each has to be weighed before discarding. Working in collaboration with commercial clients, most illustration ideas are going to be task-driven, and will be a blend of your ideas and the client’s regarding concept, style and desired results.
Somewhere in here also has to be addressed the impact of original vs. derivative ideas. For a visual artist and especially one working commercially, purely original ideas are hard to come by. We’re bombarded by visual imagery from the first day we open our eyes, then later are drawn to and/or repelled by most everything we see that other artists have done – this can’t help but affect our style and how we see the world through art. How we control and channel our own likes, dislikes and influences through our work, all the while adding whatever personal flavoring we bring to the equation determines how original our artistic solutions will be. Recognizing and utilizing influences is a balancing act that’s always there when generating ideas.
Lastly, I think ideas spring from that overused word, passion. It’s why we do what we do instead of pursuing any of the millions of other occupations available in the world. Speaking only for myself, I want to add my spin and polish to whatever visual problem is put in front of me, as long as it’s something that I can relate to. Generating good ideas is more often than not hard work, and the effort needs to be applied where it will do the most good both for the artist and for the resulting work. -John Maggard
A mysterious internal response to an ever-changing external set of chance meetings. -Lorraine Tuson
My ideas come from nature. I am an avid gardener and I am always in awe of the design found in natural things. The hardest part of drawing nature is keeping its fresh and random quality. I love taking a natural theme (such as shells), and combining the many shapes and textures to create patterns. -Lisa Ballard
Ideas come from playing. -Penelope Dullaghan
Ideas are the result of a wide open mind that is always asking the question “What if?”. After that, getting a few other people’s opinions will often make them better. Scott Matthews
The most common comment I hear when asked this is, “ideas are everywhere”. But to me that’s a cop-out because our society cannot see the forest through the trees. For me ideas come from staring at the stars, or a plant in the crack on the driveway. Yes, the Internet is also full of useful images, but where does one start? Back to the basics, I say! For me this is an endless journey, because problem solving is a passion of mine. -Geoffrey P Smith
Ideas come from doing, not planning. The best ideas I’ve ever had came to me in the process of making creative work, not from sitting down and intellectualizing my next move. -Grant Gilliland
Now that’s a good question! Ideas are a kind of cross-pollination of thought and problem parameters that comes from combining one or more unlike things to create a third, more synergetic association. It starts with research; I look through information relevant to the problem at hand, making lists of items and key words that can drive the direction of thought. Next, I take the information and start to play with it without judgment – it’s called free association. I take some of these key words or essential elements from the lists and literally connect them to see if there’s a potential association there. For example, if you take the word magnet and library and think about what associations they make, you come up with a series of thought-play ideas. I’m hoping for some kind of visual metaphor or analogy that will help communicate the concept of whatever it is I’m trying to get across. So… Library+Magnet=What? I think of a place where information storage plus some kind of pulling force comes together. The human brain would be considered a a kind of information storage unit and the attractive force might be a lighted billboard sign. Or the Rosetta stone, the key to interpreting several dead languages, might have Space Odyssey monolith-like properties that attract the monkeys.
Once all of the play is done, it’s time to see which of the ideas might have merit for the problem at hand. Maybe some that are seemingly way off base will lead to something else by association. This is the portion of the event that we must judge or deem relevant to solving the problem. That, and a healthy amount of sketching, usually bring good results. -Larry Moore