Internet Inspiration

While I was stumbling around the internet the other night (Yes, it’s true; I use StumbleUpon to find curious and interesting websites I might not find otherwise.), I landed on a web site called The Inspiration Blog. This called to mind other arts inspiration web sites that I have run across. I have seen a quite a few and dismissed them, but somehow seeing this one caused me to wonder just how many of them there are out there.

The short answer is a bunch. As a matter of fact if you enter “art inspiration websites” into Google, you will get 3,340,000 hits (at least that’s the number I got last night); if you enter “photography inspiration web sites,” you only get 1,480,000. I’m sure that you could play this game all night if you wanted, just plugging in a different art in front of “inspiration websites.” Or you can go generic: “arts inspiration websites” (3,740,000 hits). That’s a lot of websites devoted to arts inspiration.

Then there is the variant form of the game: enter “arts inspiration workshop.” You get an amazing 5,260,000 hits. Even allowing that some of those may be duplicate websites or references or duplicate workshops, that’s a lot of workshops.

Having gone this far, I thought I would try another source, so I went over to Amazon, and found that Amazon catalogues 4,941 entries about “art inspiration,” with 1,919 of these in the books category. That’s a lot of products and a lot of books.

One has to conclude that there are a lot of people out there who are looking for inspiration in the arts. Who knew? Well, a lot of authors and webmasters and workshop coordinators seem to have known, or at least seem to have thought that there were a lot of blocked artists in the world, and thus a market for inspiration. That means that there are a lot of people who are in the inspiration business, which is a whole topic in itself.

I have never been to an arts inspiration workshop, and I have never read a book designed to inspire the reader artistically, although I have read a few about creativity. But I have visited more than a few arts inspiration web sites, and, frankly, I have never found any of them to be terribly inspiring. They may be for some people, but for me they do virtually nothing. Picasso said of inspiration, “the artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” He could have as well added “from the world wide web,” had there been such a thing then. Although I have never gotten anything from an arts inspiration web site, I have run across images and words on the web that resonated with me, but they appear in places that I stumbled on, or they came from websites that I visit regularly because I appreciate the quality of the work posted there; I’m sure that I’m not alone in these perceptions.

My problem with arts or any kind of inspiration web site is that they are aggregates; some are even aggregates of aggregates. Now aggregates are fine, except that for an aggregation to exist there must be an aggregator. And an aggregator is by definition also an editor, a filter, if you will, because he/she must decide what to put in and what to leave out, so when you go to an aggregate website, you are submitting yourself to someone else’s taste, to someone else’s artistic aesthetic in determining what is and what is not inspiring.  I agree with Picasso; I think inspiration comes “from all over the place,” and I’m pretty sure that I do not want my potential inspiration to be filtered, or edited, or censored.

How about you? Do you ever find inspiration on the web? Do you find it on inspiration websites? Where else do you find it? Or are you one of those artists who have no use for inspiration and trust only in their own abilities?

Date: Sunday, 28. November 2010 23:40
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity

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  1. 1

    I had to re-read the last paragraph a couple of times to realize that your use of “artist” suggests one who is capable of being inspired, of having inspirations. I would posit that inspiration websites are for the dull-minded individual, the one who does not see, for example, an abandoned house and regard its shape as a metaphor.

    My father, an organic chemist, always encouraged me to doodle. He said that ideas—with no emphasis on value—were always born from the unconscious self, which seemed to do a fairly good job of collecting and collating visual and aural data. Since childhood, my inspirations have almost always come from doodling, whether images, words, designs, whatever. Since then, I have experienced the Internets and its bounty, and would say that the WWW—though Google—has provided a great deal more of that elusive inspiration than meat space itself, which, as I write this sentence, saddens me to say.

    I think I’ll go disconnect the router now.

  2. 2

    Input into the subconscious comes from everywhere, internet included, only to fall out at a later time. I think your father was probably right, and doodling is one of the ways of helping those ideas into consciousness. Surfing is often the electronic substitute of doodling.

  3. 3

    “Surfing the the electronic substitute of doodling.” I love it! And under 140 characters, which makes it even better.

  4. 4

    I should have said (and I think meant to say) “Surfing is the electronic equivalent of doodling.” I saw that you corrected it in your tweet. Thank you! And thanks for the tweets.

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