The process behind the pattern - Indian Rose

 
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I’m right in the middle of a phase when I’m not creating new patterns. The reason is not lack of inspiration or some kind of creativity block - no, my head is bursting with new ideas and I’m actually itching to start designing stuff soon again. There is just a couple of other things that I have to focus on right now, stuff to finish, follow through and get done before I can allow myself to start up a new project (i.e. a new pattern collection). 

As you might know I’ve been working hard on my portfolio book(s), since spring actually. It’s coming along now and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Another project I’m working on and that needs to be completed before the next is a new Skillshare class. It’s a new Classic Pattern Design course that I hope you’ll enjoy. The plan is to publish somewhere around the shift between September and October. Most likely beginning of October.

I’m also preparing for something that is new to me, something fun that I will soon tell you all about with a proper announcement (cliffhanger).

So because of all of the above I haven’t shared any new patterns at all lately and thought that instead of showing you a new design I would share a bit about an old one and the process and thoughts behind it.

You’ve probably seen it before if you follow me on Instagram and here, but I don’t think I’ve told the story behind it properly. Almost every pattern I design has some kind of story, or at least a fantasy. Call it my source and chain of inspiration.

The pattern is called Indian Rose as it’s inspired by the Indian floral patterns you often see on chintz textiles or on wallpaper.

The inspiration for Indian Rose came from an old plate I stumbled across when making research for an idea I’d had for a story (I sometimes write as well). The 18th century plate is displayed at the Löfstad Slott (Löfstad Castle). It is said that it’s the one that Axel von Fersen used for his last meal, before he was murdered by a Stockholm mob in 1810. It’s a sad and grim story but the plate is so beautiful, with a stylized pattern of roses, leaves and embellishments that were just irresistible to me. So I started studying the motifs, trying to make something similar. This was about two and a half years ago.

When I started to create the pattern I sketched the outlines with pencil and then colored it with markers. 

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I then scanned and worked on it in Photoshop, making an offset pattern, which was the only method I knew about back then :-). (Offset is when you arrange the motifs in a diamond shape in the middle of the document and then divide into quarters, moving them into opposite corners creating an empty space in the middle to fill with additional pattern elements).

The first version of the pattern was very similar to the original motifs, trying to mimic it to learn the style. Then I started to experiment with the repeat, making it sparse and then more dense layouts. The color palette was still quite true to the original with faded red, pink and blue.

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At this point I started to consider to quit my ordinary office job, marketing cars at Toyota - a job that took way too much time and energy (sucking the soul out of me) to have enough time to spend on my new passion for making patterns - to pursue my dream of working with something much more creative, like designing patterns. So the pattern got to sit for a bit, while I was planning my next move, which ended up with me quitting my job and starting up Bear Bell Productions a few months later. 

It wasn’t until a year ago that I picked up this pattern again, when I was working on a pattern collection called Colonial Inn. I had had the von Fersen pattern in the back of my head but didn’t really know what to do with it, it was sort of stuck and I wasn’t pleased with it, looking way too much like the plate and the layout wasn’t great either. 

But now I could see that it could fit perfectly with the other patterns I had for this collection with some alterations. So I started to rework it, adding branches and birds and rearranging the layout into something completely new. I also recolored it into the two color ways for Colonial Inn - Atlantic (which was called Kattegat at first) with blue, sand and gold hues, and Pacific with coral and turquoise colors. Before I was pleased with it I added some texture to mimic a vintage fabric look, which made all the difference I think… and made the a.i-document huuuuuge!

Pacific color way

Pacific color way

Atlantic color way

Atlantic color way

It needed a name too, and this was inspired by the indian floral patterns you often find on chintzes, so - Indian Rose it was.

FORMEX 08-17 report from a pattern design perspective - part 1

The twice annual exhibition within interior design - Formex at Älvsjömässan south of Stockholm - is today going on it’s fourth and last day. I visited the fair on Thursday and Friday - my fifth visit over the past three years. Formex is mainly for retailers to visit their current suppliers and their new product line-ups for the coming season, check out new ones and perhaps even make orders or at least bring home ideas and suggestion for purchase planning. 

So what could the benefits for a pattern designer visiting the fair be, and is it at all a good idea to exhibit yourself? I will try to answer this in two blog posts - here’s the first one, with a report of what you could see and do at Formex this time - from a pattern design point of view.

FORMEX resides at the large exhibition hall Stockholmsmässan in Älvsjö south of Stockholm. 

FORMEX resides at the large exhibition hall Stockholmsmässan in Älvsjö south of Stockholm. 

Every exhibition has a theme, this time it was called Nordic Space and for some reason this was the installation at the main entrance... Like my friend Marie said "Looks like giant testicles, you kind of want to squeeze them a bit"...

Every exhibition has a theme, this time it was called Nordic Space and for some reason this was the installation at the main entrance... Like my friend Marie said "Looks like giant testicles, you kind of want to squeeze them a bit"...

The first day of visiting was mostly about meeting and networking. I had so much fun talking to so many wonderful, inspiring designers so willing to share their stories. And this is actually the main reason why I go to visit Formex, to take the opportunity to get to know my ”colleagues” - no matter if they are huge and famous or in an establishing phase (like me).

My first stop was at ColArt - a booth exhibiting art supplies. They had teamed up in a collaboration with one of Swedens most famous pattern designers - Hanna Wendelbo - to promote their specific brand for art supplies. I was invited to participate in a workshop, which more or less was a demonstration of their products, but we got to try them out - which of course led to some new ideas and inspiration - and we also had the chance to talk to Hanna - who is such a lovely and inspiring person. She was kind enough to show us more about using masking liquid in combination with water color and ink - something I’ve been curious about for a while.

Hanna Wendelbo is a Swedish pattern designer, blogger, lecturer and influencer, who recently went freelance after working as a creative director at Sandberg Wallpaper and before that at Borås Wallpaper.
Trying out accrylic paint.

Trying out accrylic paint.

Hanna held a mini lecture about DIY.

Hanna held a mini lecture about DIY.

I look kinda starstruck, don't I... ha ha.

I look kinda starstruck, don't I... ha ha.

And as it happens, one of my favorite pattern designers and artists was also participating in the same group as me - Nadja Wedin. I’ve met her a few times before when visiting Formex. She is exhibiting every year with the most welcoming and inspiring booth displaying her designs and product line-up. Every time I talk to her I walk away being so pepped and encouraged and I’m really happy for these talks and exchanges of tips, tricks and advices we share (As you can tell, I’m such a big Nadja fan).

I never got around to taking an image of Nadjas exhibition booth, guess I was just so caught up in our conversation. But do check out her website and her beautiful patterns and products.

I never got around to taking an image of Nadjas exhibition booth, guess I was just so caught up in our conversation. But do check out her website and her beautiful patterns and products.

After that almost all day had gone by so now it was high time to check out some of the other exhibitiors. I started in the B-hall. Formex is divided into three big exhibition halls where the exhibitors are categorized into different businesses:
Hall A - displays the latest trends within interior home decoration: Living interior & textiles, Body & bath and Fashion & Accessories
Hall B - is called Nordic Area and gathers nordic designs and crafts; Design, Kitchen & Table, Craft, Young Designers and Next Step (I’ll be explaining the last tow a bit more below)
Hall C - shows a mix of other areas connected to retail: Taste, Mixed interior & gifts, Floral & Garden, Paper & packaging, Kids &Toys

One display that I’ve been really curious about is the newly launched Bliss Collection - a collaboration between artist and designer Emma von Brömssen and ceramic artist Kajsa Cramer. The products in the collection focused on ceramic cups and plates, with Emmas beautifully painted motifs in an oceanic theme that I really associate with the west coast of Sweden, with fish and sea weed (Emma von Brömssen is from Gothenburg). It all breathes an air of calmness and Japanese art and the description of this brand and products is reflection and inner peace. The ceramic products are accompanied with textiles like pillow covers and napkins/kitchen towels.

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The pattern design and choice of products of the Bliss Collection is a great example and guide line for what works - I think - when it comes to sell your own patterned products. The concept foundation is really thought through, defined and consistent. The ceramic material, surface and look & feel to the cups and plates are perfectly combined with the motifs of carp and mackerel fish, seaweed and wrack. And the execution of the motif is really inspiring - simple yet very sophisticated. The product line-up could also be an indication of what works - for the main part focused on kitchen & table. It’s going to be interesting to see how this collection is received both by the press and retail.

The Bliss booth was in the so called Design area, in which the bigger and established brands reside, like Eva Solo and all the other big kitchen ware brands. It can be fun to check out but I usually just rush past it, on my way to the smaller design businesses on the right hand side and further down the hall. It’s much more interesting and inspiring - simply because they can show you the possibilities that lay ahead. This could be you a few steps down the road.

Next stop was Studio Lisa Bengtsson - a pattern designer representing an interesting style with lots of contrasts, black and strong accent colors in a modern bohemic mix, with influences of Andy Warhol. It stands out among the washed, organic and powdery color palettes you see all over the fair. Her latest collection and mainly exhibited this year is focusing on swans and she has gained a bit of attention in the press, which is so great. She displayed an array of products, pillows, large canvas, fabric rolls, lamp shades, kitchen ware, table settings and a lot of other things. Everything arranged in a dark burgundy, pink and black, sort of messy setting. The impression is in a way gothic and alternative.

Swans everywhere at 

Swans everywhere at 

Another favorite that I have revisited a couple of times over the year is Deco Home. Their concept is so simple and brilliant. They focus on table and dining - solely - all within the Art Deco style. So they have a boiled down and very defined concept and style, which to me is inspiring as I tend to spread to different styles and consider all kinds of products if I should start my own line-up. Maybe there is something to learn from Deco Home (and Bliss). Of course they are not unique with their patterns, you see a lot of other brands displaying products with that typical fan-shaped pattern, but Deco Home presents it beautifully. Their story is also an interesting one.

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A fun surprise and new at Formex this year is Skansen. Skansen is an outdoor museum and also recreation area in the middle of Stockholm where you can see animals, arts, craft and other culture objects and buildings from all over Sweden and Swedish history. Skansen holds an important part of the Swedish culture and landscape heritage, where design and craft is a large part. In the Skansen booth you could view products with old motifs and patterns from the Swedish heritage. Such a treat for a historic nerd like me.

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Traditional and folklore at the Skansen booth.

Traditional and folklore at the Skansen booth.

After this I took a glance at the Young Designer area, but I hate to say that there wasn't much that stuck out, at least not from a pattern perspective. So the only display worth mentioning is ”imiform” - which is designer and illustrator Emelie Gårdeler who works with acrylic paint to create her organic etherial designs. Apart from the traditional pillows, cards, notebooks and trays she also marketed illustrated fake tattoos. That’s a great product to consider, low in cost (I figure) and fun as a gift or way to showcase your work.

imiform booth

imiform booth

Designer Lisa Gårdeler uses acrylic paint for her patterns.

Designer Lisa Gårdeler uses acrylic paint for her patterns.

Before I went home I also had the pleasure of meeting a fellow designer and illustrator that I’ve gotten to know over Instagram. Maria from @dotoditty and I sat down over a coffee and sharing stories and experiences, which is so valuable. This is one of the best things about both Instagram - the wonderful people you get to connect with - the same trade - your tribe.

Last thing on the first day was to quickly pass by the booth of Joy Zandén. Joy was a designer who got recognized at the age of 94 years. Her treasure of patterns stashed away in the basement was discovered by her daughter who showed them to Hanna Wendelbo (see above) who was working at Sandberg Wallpaper at the time, and the rest is history. Joy passed away this spring and now her daughter Jessica Zandén is bravely taking on the honorable task to develop this heritage into a successful brand of products.

Jessica Zandén is a woman of action. It'a amazing how fast she has created the product line-up.

Jessica Zandén is a woman of action. It'a amazing how fast she has created the product line-up.

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Joy Zandéns story and design style is truly inspiring.

Joy Zandéns story and design style is truly inspiring.

Next day I was an early bird, one of the first there. Since the first day was marked by chatting with all kinds of interesting people I hadn’t had the chance to visit most part of the fair, so this day was to be dedicated to covering a lot of booths that I wanted to visit.

One of them was Annette Jakobsson in the Next Step area. Her minimalistic, mostly black and white designs are super interesting. Among things she has a background as teaching textile craft and at the age of 40 wanted to do something new, be her own and started her design business (heard the story somewhere else?). Yes, it was great to chat with her, sharing our very similar stories and she was so kind to give me a lot of advice and encouragement to exhibit myself and take the leap to start producing more of my own products. Her signature style and design is definitely going to be appealing to the nordic audience and that will be easy to mix and match with a lot of other styles. A smart move.

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After this I was sort of done with the B-hall and went back to the A-hall where the major players are. Some fun booths to visit from a pattern perspective was Afro Art, Ceannis, Svanefors and my new favorite Danish Bungalow who had their booth filled with wonderful Indian block printed fabrics, textile and paper products. Yes it was like entering heaven. 

Exhibition area at the trend restaurant.

Exhibition area at the trend restaurant.

Christmas is a part of the August fair.

Christmas is a part of the August fair.

Afro Art

Afro Art

Afro Art

Afro Art

Ceannis displayed a great example of how to renew a product line-up and keep up with the trends. But their signature pattern style is always my favorite.

Ceannis displayed a great example of how to renew a product line-up and keep up with the trends. But their signature pattern style is always my favorite.

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Svanefors - the big Formex dragon. You can get lost in their booth. And very inspired.

Block printing heaven at Bungalow

Block printing heaven at Bungalow

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Cute bags at Littlephant

Cute bags at Littlephant

I roamed the complete A-hall, isle up and down, checking out all kinds of wholesale businesses small, medium, big and huge, but apart from the mentions above and a couple of more (see images below) nothing really stuck out and wasn’t that interesting from a pattern perspective. A lot is the same from previous fairs - graphic-, ikat-, lots of ferns and botanical motifs like palm leaves, pineapples and large flowers.

I didn’t do the whole C-hall, only the booths for art supplies, paper and packaging, but that presented nothing new, except for the booth (I can’t for the love of art supplies remember the name of the exhibitor or find the booth in the exhibition map, sorry) where I got to try some new pens from Uni - a white ball point pen that was just perfect for creating completely white highlights and would not let a black background shine through. They must have seen my bliss when trying it at gave one as a gift *oh happy day chiming in my head*.

The rest of the C-hall is just Gardenstuff and Kids & Toys and I actually didn’t bother to visit those exhibitions (information overload) and went home. Quite content and satisfied.

So the out take of these to days was to meet and connect with fellow designers (I hope we’ll stay in touch) and to learn more about exhibiting and how to go about it to becoming an established designer. The learnings from this I will gather in the next post. 

Now, I think I’ll just put my legs up for a couple of days and process it all.

Thanks for reading!

Lots of love / Bärbel

Testing TOUCH Twin Markers

Edit August 26 2017: I just confirmed that the pens I bought were not the real thing, but Chinese copies and I do not recommend buying markers from Wish (the app I used). First of all, it's not right and second - how can I be sure that the colors are good. Thirdly, the proudness and feeling of holding a real marker is tainted, like cheating, so I'm not even sure I'll use them. 

(Old )Lesson learned: If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is :-(

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First of all, this is NOT a sponsored post. I'm not connected to this product or company in any other way than just the ordinary crazy consumer.

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So I just got this deal on 80 pieces of TOUCH Twin Markers. In Sweden you have to by them for 40 SEK, which is about $5 each. A pack of 60 markers is 1.550 SEK / $180. Now I tried this new shopping site called wish.com (don't know if it's global, but would say it is). And found this 80-pack for only about 100 SEK / $12 (!!!!!). At first I thought it was too good to be true and I never buy into these types of promos otherwise, but this was just too tempting. And with that price I just had to try it (it was markers for god's sake!!!). If you are into markers too, you'll know what I'm talking about. 

And today, I went to the post office to pick up the package. Apparently it was sent from Singapore, so I'm a bit worried that it's a copy.

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I unpacked it, and everything looked fine, more than fine. It looked great. 80 pretty colors were greeting me when opening the case *the sound of "oh, happy day" playing in my head*.

Then I had to try them out, naturally, got a piece of Copic Marker paper and freezed when I saw what happened when I applied a bit of color to it.

Ink on Copic Marker paper.... eeeeeek!!!!!!

Ink on Copic Marker paper.... eeeeeek!!!!!!

It floated around like mud! With small little grains on top. And when I touched it with my finger it would smear and come off! It wouldn't layer either...

Aaaargh! It was too good to be true after all. Oh, well, that's what you get for being cheap, I thought.

But then I tried it on ordinary printing paper, just in case, and the result was completely different. The ink bled a lot, but that it does with Copic and ProMarkers as well. So I got a piece of Canson The Wall marker paper and the result was just as good as with any other marker I'm using. Whiew!!! I mean, since I didn't spend a lot of money on them, if they had turned out to be fony or fake, it wouldn't have been the whole world of course, but the disappointment had been big anyway and the joy of having 80 new markers at your hand destroyed.

Did a quick test with the Copic blender too, and it seems to react ok on the Canson paper, not perfectly though.

On ordinary printing paper.

On ordinary printing paper.

Canson The Wall paper.

Canson The Wall paper.

Again, Canson The Wall, using the blender.

Again, Canson The Wall, using the blender.

I'm not certain that they are the real thing or if it's TOUCH in general, because the feeling of the pen itself is not as nice as for example Copic or ProMarker. The fit of the cap is not as nice and or the printed letters and numbers on the body and cap looks a bit low quality. I don't have any other TOUCH markers at home right now to compare with, but I will get some, just to be sure.

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This specific pack had a nice set of greys (actually all basic grey tones) and a lot of earth tones, plus a nice mix of vidid colors, represented in each color group.

So what's the conclusion? Well, it's always nice when you get new markers, but I have to be honest, the feeling is a bit tainted with the suspicion that it might be a pirated copy - the origin, price and look and feel of the pen itself points to that. You can find a similar deal at Amazon though, and that indicates that the bargain I got could be with original pens as well. Hm..

I'm not a fan of pirating and copying and try to avoid that as much as I can. But now that I have them, I will definitely use and enjoy them.

Simply Lavish skirt

The other day something really fun was delivered to my doorstep. A roll of my first ever printed yardage fabric! With the help of a fabric pattern designer friend who prints her fabrics a couple of times a year asked if I wanted to hop on the train this time and try it out to print some of my patterns too. I didn't really have a plan for the fabric at first and needed to think about it for a couple of days. Should I do this investment or not? It wasn't a big one, but still. I'd like to focus on the right things for my business and not be all over the place. But this opportunity was just to fun and exciting to miss, so I decided to just go ahead and then make plans for what I should do with it afterwards. 

Well that turned out not to be very difficult. Once I had ordered and sent my print file all kinds of ideas of opportunities this would provide popped up in my head. From my own sewing projects with this fabric, to selling it by the yardage or have it turned into different products and sell.

I chose to print the pattern design I call Simply Lavish from a pattern collection I'm working on that's called Celebration. A lot of the patterns in this collection is made of water color doodles and paintings - Simply Lavish is one of them.

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The print turned out pretty good I think. A tiny bit darker than the original, but only the slightest.

And here's the first sewing project made with my Simply Lavish fabric, which by the way is now available in my webshop.

Simply Lavish skirt

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I chose to make a skirt for my first sewing project with this fabric. I wanted to make this type of vintage dirndl kind of model, because it's so pretty and also quite easy to make and you can use it to both dressed up as well as casual occasions.

I had actually taken a Skillshare class about making this type of skirt, by Allie Jackson - who by the way is one of the most fun and sweetest sewists out there in my opinion. I warmly recommend to follow her on Instagram if you like to sew too.

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So the first step, actually the most boring one, was to cut off the length I needed for my skirt and wash it. But it looked pretty hanging to dry on our starcase :-)

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Next step was to cut out all the pattern pieces, which for this model is very easy, you just need 2 or 3 panels of the fabric and I used 2 since this fabric is 137 cm wide which was enough for 2 panels. I also needed a wastband and interfacing fusing web for the waistband and where the zipper would be sewn. 

For the wastband I measured around my waist, added 4 centimeters for sewing allowance and another  5 cm for an overlap for the hook and bow.

I the skirt panels I measured from the waist down to how long I wanted the skirt to be, just beneath the knee, which was about 60 cm, then added another 12 cm for the hem. Then I just tore off the two panels and the piece for the waistband.

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I also added another detail, not included in Allies Skillshare class. I wanted to have side pockets, and used a pair of shorts to make the pattern pieces for them. For the pockets I then used a coordinating fabric that I had ordered from Spoonflower - Corset Stitch in the pink color way (Colonial Inn pattern collection).

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Then it was time to fuse the interfacing into place - the waistband and where the zipper would be attached.

I used just a regular fusing web, about the same weight as the fabric.

And then it was just all about sewing the edges together.

Another change that I made to the original instructions is that I split the back panel in half, so that I could have the zipper in the center back and not in one of the sides. 

The two back panels were sewn together all the way up, but where the zipper would go I used the longest stitch on my mashine to make a baste stitch, that after pressing would be removed. In this way you get a nice and neat folding  along your zipper edges.

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Next step was to sew the zipper in place by hand to get this really crafted, couture look.

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Making the gathering of the skirt was probably the most fun step in this project. I did what Allie suggested and made three rows of baste stitch for the gathering which makes the gathers much more even and provides it from twisting when you start pulling the strings.

It was quite tricky with the pockets, since I hade to come up with the solutions myself, but after a couple of trials and errors I made them work pretty well. A lesson though for the next skirt is to make bigger pockets and pocket holes, and also make them much further down the sides.

Then it was time to attach the waistband and hand sew the hem. The last step was to attach the hook and bow on the waist band.

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I'm really happy with the result and can't wait to start with another project. Well, I have a whole roll to use...

If you would like to use the Simply Lavish fabric for your sewing project too, just hop over to my web shop where you can order it by the meter. The fabric is 137 cm wide (about 53 inches) and 100% cotton. 

If you would like to check out Allies class on Skillshare you can use this link to get a 2 month free trial of a Skillshare premium membership. 

What inspiration is and where to find it

It’s funny how inspiration works. For me different things inspire to different artforms. For example, when I’m down, sad, or sentimental I get inspired to write stories (secret fact: I have about 7 unfinished novels in my ”drawer”). But to get inspired to create patterns, happy moments or seeing something really beautiful seem to be the thing. Like this morning, when I harvested sweet peas and string beans from our own garden I felt a pure moment of happiness and itching to get into the studio. But if I feel a bit depressed I could never squeeze out a single pattern or an idea for one. And if I’m trying to write when everything is jolly and dandy it would turn out reeeeaally crappy and poor. Makes me wonder how this inspiration thing works.

Sweet peas and string beans from my garden. Apparantly inspiring.

Sweet peas and string beans from my garden. Apparantly inspiring.

So what is inspiration in the first place? Well, there has been many theories and explanations throughout history, and those theories are definitely reflected by how they viewed reality and explained the world at the given time. For example, ancient communities like the greek, romans and vikings thought inspiration was something divine i.e it came from the gods/God. The greeks actually thought that inspiration or ”enthusiasm” came from the muses as well as the gods Apollo and Dionysos and that the artist was transported beyond his own mind and that the gods gave him their thoughts to create something with. They also thought inspiration was not dependent of skills, technique and performance, which made it possible for even the non-artist to be inspired.

The vikings believed something similar, the artist would be inspired by something magical and divine and then he shaped that with his own mind.

By the way the word inspiration derives from the latin word inspirare, which means ”to breathe into”. It refers to an unconscious burst of creativity of an artform. Source: Wikipedia

During the enlightenment the principles to explain how the world worked wasn’t based on the works of a god any more, but scientific thoughts, by observing. The philosophers of that time, like John Locke tried to explain what inspiration was and where it came from. Locke said that inspiration was an association of ideas that came together randomly to create a new unity. The romantic theories who called inspiration ”genius”, describing inspiration as something supernatural and divine just like the greeks or Christians, but said inspiration came from within the artist. Some even thought it was a kind of madness or irrationality.

During the 19th and 20th centuries and the modernist era it was explained by a new science that was the new ”thing” - psychology. Iconic psychologists and philosophers like Freud, Jung, and Marx had their own theories to explain inspiration. They all had in common that inspiration was the product of the environment or the physical heritage of the artist and how it had shaped her or him. Freud thought artist were fundamentally wounded by some kind of unresolved conflict or trauma from the childhood and therefore inspiration was a product of their subconsciousness. Jung thought inspiration came from something other than the artists experience, that it was a racial memory. The Marxist thinkers said it was the expression of the friction between economical structures of the society. Of course they did.

The modern psychology hasn’t really studied inspiration. To me that shows that it’s not an interesting or important issue that needs any resolving any more. But if we would use todays thoughts and philosophies that reflect todays society, inspiration would be something completely individual and it’s up to every artist to explain, describe and find it.

Some say that inspiration is beyond anyones control, you either have it or you don’t. But is that really true? Because to me that suggest that it is still something of a divine force and as the agnostic that I am, it’s difficult to grasp. I think inspiration is triggered by things that you interact with, and like dreams, all those different impressions that you are hit by every day, will be processed in your consciousness or subconsciousness and comes out as an idea, either automatically without you forcing it, or by doing the work. 

By that I want to say that sometimes you have it, it’s there to use and to work with. You sit in your studio or kitchen table, with a nice cup of coffee, listening to your favorite music, using the materials you know so well and it just flows. It’s a wonderful feeling, right? But sometimes, it’s just not there.

But if you’re in that dark, empty place where inspiration just doesn’t want to appear like a genie in a bottle, granting you an artistic wish, you can hunt it down. Yes, you can easily go and get some inspiration if you need it. The key is - and this theory of mine is based on a lot of other artists and designers that I know or am following - is to do something new. Get out of your comfort zone, exit the frames you usually work within and new ideas will be served. As long as you do the work, and try.

That is an inspiring thought, right? That we can control inspiration like that. I wonder what the ancient greeks, John Locke or Sigmund Freud would say about that?

So, in case your inspiration is emptied out, here are some ideas to what you can do to go get some refill:

  1. Visit a museum; history, art, architecture, crafts…
  2. Go to antique shops and flea markets
  3. Take a walk deep into a forest, sit down and observe, listen and smell
  4. Visit a flower shop
  5. Go to the beach, doesn’t even have to be summer.
  6. Go to a park or a garden, observe the small details in the plants and flowers, or the overall impression
  7. Get some books about history, portraits, plants, flowers, birds, animals, insects, a specific corner of the world, architecture
  8. Visit home decor or wallpaper stores
  9. Explore a new music genre and artists on Spotify etc.
  10. Take an on-line class and learn a craft you don’t master: like using professional markers, oil painting, watercolor or lettering for example

What tips and tricks do you have to fuel and refill your inspiration?

If you would like to try tip no 10:

Here is a link for a free two month trial of a premium membership on Skillshare. It will give you access to over 17.000 classes within all kinds of creative areas and business (among them my classes on illustration, coloring with markers and crating classic pattern designs) - taught by creators from around the world. There is no commitment to continue after the two month trial and you can cancel anytime.

The virgin forest of Tyresta outside Stockholm.

The virgin forest of Tyresta outside Stockholm.

Hollyhocks at the castle in Varberg on the west coast of Sweden.

Hollyhocks at the castle in Varberg on the west coast of Sweden.

Papyrus from the traveling exhibition of Thutanchamun (the reconstruction).

Papyrus from the traveling exhibition of Thutanchamun (the reconstruction).