Inspiration Found

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Last week was one of those weeks… I had a deadline and the creative ideas just wouldn’t flow. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe because I was distracted by a weedy garden, the socks I’m knitting or the tons of little chores that needed to be taken care of (ex: pay bills, re-tape my handlebars, put away my ski stuff for the summer, wash the curtains, invoice clients, get my motorcycle inspected etc.). Anyhow I was stalled.

Clients always assume that their creative partners are ALWAYS creative and can pull great stuff out of thin air on a moment’s notice. Well, sometimes it just isn’t so! When my creativity is blocked I employ a few methods that usually work to get the juices flowing again…

My favorite is to go out and ride my bike. I get myself in a place that gets my heart rate going and where I’m in a comfortable meditative-like zone of free association and thought (this is a bit hard to describe and I’m sure there is some special term for this state of mind). For this process to work I need to be alone.

Some of my best ideas and problem solving come when I’m on my bike. They often come fast and furiously and are jumbled between work ideas and thoughts on what to make for dinner or how to handle personal issues. I just let it all fly and don’t try to reign it in. I’ve learned to call my cell phone and leave myself a message because an hour or so later, and after a few hills, I have forgotten most everything I’ve come up with. (It’s weird to hear myself breathing heavily on voice mail.)

Or else I “shop”. Often going into stores and looking at product that is completely unrelated to what I’m working on triggers ideas. The lines on that cool Italian espresso maker would make interesting style lines on a jacket…

Sometimes leaving my studio to shop isn’t an option (ex: in the middle of the night). That’s when virtual shopping comes in handy. I surf around to my favorite websites and blogs (ex: see “Inspiration Found” on my blog). They don’t need to be associated with the product I’m stalled on to get me going.

Often looking at product isn’t productive for me. That’s when I get outside, go slowly and look at things up close. I’ve been inspired by complex patterns found in tree bark, rock formations, windblown snow and salamanders. And if I’m in an urban setting I look at architectural details, signage and manmade textures. I often photograph what I see and use the pictures for something else (ex: my blog).

I have a nice collection of design books and magazines that I can usually count on to jolt me out of my creative lethargy. They’re especially great when shops are closed and I’m sick of my computer and it’s too dark to see outside (ex: usually around midnight).

Visiting a museum or gallery or bookstore often uncorks the plug. Or sometimes being in an interesting environment, like a cool coffee, shop helps. People watching is another activity that sparks ideas. If all else fails, I clean off my desk!

The one thing I try to avoid when I’m creatively blocked is to explore the fridge. Sometimes this is really hard. To avoid temptation, I do not stock peanut butter or ice cream.

Usually one or more of these “tricks” gets me back on track. Hopefully this week will be a bit more productive for me. What do you do if you are creatively stuck?

Gone Riding

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After spending three and a half weeks in the land of ice, snow, sagas, volcanoes, hot springs, trolls, sheep, northern lights and endless daylight it’s been a tad difficult to readjust to my day-to-day life. Iceland, surreally shaped by fire and ice, perpetually inspired me with her landscapes, colors and textures. It is truly a place of wonder and I’ll be sharing some of my experiences here.

I spent my first two weeks skiing in the mountains near the Arctic Circle on the Troll Peninsula, and my last week touring around the western fjords with my camera at my fingertips and my eyes and brain on visual overload.

As my traveling companion and I packed our skis in the back of the rental car and leisurely headed back toward Reykjavik, the snow was just beginning to melt from the mountains leaving ribbons of it behind in steep and narrow gullies creating lovely patterns. Waterfalls cascaded thousands of feet from rocky cliffs. After awhile I started seeing Icelandic sweater designs in all the mountains!

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

©poppy gall 2011

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I’m not sure where this piece of vintage ski fabric came from. It’s stitched into what looks like it may have been one of a pair of curtains that probably hung in a family’s A-frame in the 60′s. I can just see the orange shag carpet, the brown couches and the big hanging globe light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. I bet the family played Twister after a day on the slopes! And had fondue for dinner! And the kids probably slid down the trails on stolen cafeteria trays after dark. Ah, the memories!

I’m not sure where this piece of vintage ski fabric came from. It’s stitched into what looks like it may have been half of a pair of curtains that probably hung in a family’s A-frame mountain get-away in the 60′s. I can just see the orange shag carpet, the brown couches and the big globe light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. I bet the family played Twister after a day on the slopes, and had fondue for dinner! And the kids probably slid down the trails on stolen cafeteria trays after dark. Ah, the memories!

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The overall fabric repeat in brash colors…
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Isn’t this skier’s technique classic? I love the big baskets and the Colorado ski promotion.
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Remember when collecting ski patches and sewing them on your parka was the cool thing to do? Some “patches” from some of my favorite ski areas…
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This jump was probably considered pretty outrageous back in the day. No one had even considered the possibility of a terrain park or half pipe yet.
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I still miss those slow old doubles where you could have a private conversation with someone. On second thought, I really like getting in six fast runs on the detachable quad before work!
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