How artists find inspiration for their work

Art has always been important in society and something that people love to engage with. Whether it is viewing famous paintings by old Masters in top galleries like the Louvre or checking out modern art in local venues. Of course, this is not only down to the historical significance art has played in culture since ancient times but also the beauty it brings into our lives. There is nothing like a beautifully crafted painting or expertly carved sculpture to make your heart beat faster. The same is also true for taking in the latest cleverly made animations or hard-hitting installations.

There would be no art without artists and no ongoing interest in the art world without new work. This makes it key for artists in all disciplines to constantly find new ideas and new inspiration for their work. But how do artists do this?

What is happening around them in society

One of the most effective ways artists find fresh inspiration is simply by observing what is happening around them in the world. It could be on a local level (such as looking at what is happening in their own town or social circle) or a broader scale by focusing on global news stories. This is not just confined to major issues such as racism, sexism, war and injustice though.

Many artists will also look at popular culture and turn to current trends in music, film and literature for new ideas. Jordan Wolfson highlights this idea perfectly and uses pop culture references in his film, animation and installation work. His 2014 installation work ‘Female Figure’ takes the idea of a hyper-sexualized modern female pop star and cleverly turns the concept of viewer and object on its head.

Taking inspiration from other artists

Another way many artists from all fields will find new creative ideas is looking at other artists’ work. Of course, this is not done simply to copy them. Instead, a painter, sculptor or videographer will try to take innovations they like from elsewhere and put their own twist on them.

This allows them to bring a new edge and a feeling of adventure into their own work but without slavishly copying from their source material. From new materials to new ways of working and fresh subjects for artwork, this is a rich source of creativity for artists.

Nature can be an inspiration too

Most artists will also take inspiration from nature at some point in their lives. Even if the art they produce is abstract or not based in nature, the forms the natural world offers up are always beguiling. Many artists will spend time in country lanes, woodland or open fields to fire up their creative juices.

The sheer number of shapes, textures, colors and images makes it hard not to find something new to bring into their art. Getting out for a walk or bike ride into nature can also help artists switch off if they are struggling to come up with fresh ideas. This helps them forget about their troubles and return to the studio excited to create once more. It is not just artists who can benefit from nature either – spending more time outdoors is also a great tip for improving your own mental health.

Religious events 

Many artists also base their artwork on religious events – sometimes going back a long way in history. The classic example of this is the Renaissance era when painters took inspiration from events recounted in the bible. Caravaggio’s ‘Killing of St John the Baptist’ is a great example of this type of work. Of course, artists even now still look back to famous religious events and famous historical events from the past to find new subjects for their talent.

Artists find inspiration from many sources

The simple truth is that artists find inspiration from a wide variety of sources. Whether they paint, sculpt, produce installations or make animations, this means they have a choice of places to find new ideas. As any artists knows, this is crucial because it means finding new concepts to fire their imagination is not limited to just one source. This is also great news for art fans because it means there will always be a flood of new work to enjoy, based on the creative spark artists manage to find from somewhere.


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