There is a beautiful story about sharing food or ideas: if I have 2 potatoes and share them with a friend, we both have 1 potato. If I share 2 ideas with a friend, we both have 2 ideas.
Mutual inspiration is extremely nourishing and satisfying. An activity together with someone else, whether it is walking, doing crafts or talking, gives such a good feeling. After all, a human being is a social being and we better exploit that.
It doesn’t just happen out of the blue. If we want to do something together with someone, we have to take action. In this article, I explain how I do that.
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Table of Contents
Organising a labour camp
When I was a graphic designer, I had a close relationship with another designer, Hans, who was situated in the same town. We called this a WAT (Working Apart Together) relationship, a variation on a LAT relation.
We both had employees and for mutual inspiration, we went to the coast for a work camp once a year. We of course told our clients that this was hard work, a real labour camp so that they were okay with it that they could not call on us for two days.
(The usual situation was that if Hans were not around, I would cover for him and vice versa. Customers were always served this way.)
I think back on it with nostalgia, because of course, it was not a hardship. It was a wonderful mix of hard work, inspiring each other, gaining energy, getting to know each other and a lot of fun.
A different environment does wonders
A change of scenery really inspires creativity, especially when you’re with several creative people. It is interesting, if you use that environment, for example by using materials from on-site.
On the coast, we played with the sand and the water, or we combed the beach and used what was present.
Land art artists eminently use what they find on the spot!
Visiting museums and exhibitions
As an artist, we visit museums and exhibitions, of course. Most of the time I visit those with my husband. He is very interested and often asks unexpected questions. Yet, it is often a kind of teacher-student situation.
It is different when I see an exhibition together with a befriended artist, or in the past when we had a day out with the studio. Then there are always discussions about the use of colours or the technique. Or what we think of how an exhibition is organised.
Bringing a small drawing pad and sketching, and especially comparing later, was also an inspiring activity.
Other inspiring activities
Exploring hobby stores or art shops with fellow artists is a great activity to develop new ideas. I guess we all tend to stick to well-known tools and materials and exchanging our mutual preferences brings new views.
Photo tours with a twist
That reminds me of the photo tours I had with friends. Often we would agree on a theme upfront and limit ourselves to that theme.
It didn’t even have to be the exact same theme. Once a friend photographed only looking up, whereas I solely took pictures looking down. That was much fun when we looked at each other’s pictures later. We had seen the same city yet from a literally different perspective.
Inspiring each other with a brainstorm is marvellous. By associating, assuming that nothing is too crazy, the most creative ideas can arise.
We often did this in the studio before starting a new assignment. I regularly asked a freelancer in as well because he or she would bring in different ideas than we did, being already so attuned to each other.
A brainstorm can consist of making lists but also of mind-mapping or free writing. To loosen the creative muscles you can start by putting 2 different things on the table and come up with ideas on how a combination of the two would function or what they would be.
Artist-in-residence programs are much fun but at times expensive or hard to get in. Why not organize your own artist-in-residence moments by inviting fellow artists to your home? You can work together on the same project or work in the same space and thus inspire each other.
Give each other an assignment and try to come up with a subject or technique you know is unfamiliar to your friend.
It’s exciting to exchange your art products with someone else and continue working on them. The symbiosis that arises will take you to new heights!
I know from experience that it is frightening to continue working on someone else’s expressions, but once you cross that threshold, the result is fantastic. One and one is more than two in that case.
Courses and challenges
Online courses or challenges can be just as inspiring as physical ones, although it depends very much on the organizing person. Sometimes an online course feels as if you’re taking it alone. Others offer a lot of exchange.
I am a member of a Handmade Book Club with an unbelievably supportive community. There are several inspiring possibilities with Zoom meetings, a forum, and a Facebook group.
Physical courses are more suitable for exchange because you meet each other in real life. I have taken many courses in my lifetime and almost always came home wonderfully recharged.
Inspiring each other via social media is more anonymous than the options mentioned above.
When I look at the work of those I follow on Instagram, I am often inspired, but they will rarely notice.
Hopefully, I have been able to inspire you with these 7 possibilities. Can you mention more ways to mutual inspiration? Tell me in the comment box below. I am looking forward to being inspired as well. 🙂