One of the things I love about having a market stall are the conversations I have with complete strangers, mostly starting around my work and then often spinning off into unexpected directions.
I think when people are at market they are usually happy, out relaxing for the day, doing something enjoyable, recharging those creativity batteries and being inspired by all the original designs and creations around them.
For me being around so many other women every weekend who are making their living from what they make is wonderful. My social time with my market family is before setup when I stop by my friends and we have a bit of a laugh and gossip about the week – whether we’ve had a good week, being productive and having some little successes or whether it’s a bit of a whinge about one of those tricky weeks that have you reeling. But for all of us, we want to be feeling good at market so we can have a good day, so while we might share some of our woes we always tend to end up having a bit of a laugh at ourselves.
And I think this comes across to our market visitors, a positive vibe from us artisan girls who are happy to have a chat, well that’s how I explain some of the conversations I end up in!
Last weekend there was a beautiful uni student who is in her final year and seems to be looking around the world with some questioning wonder. She came to my stall when I was serving someone and quietly picked up the porcelain earrings and seemed fascinated with them. I love this reaction people have with my work, it makes me feel like I’m really achieving something with them, that they are speaking to strangers in a very immediate and direct way. I let them have this time, saying nothing to them as they fall in love with the materials and design. It is one of the most satisfying things in my life to witness.
What are Sources of Inspiration?
When the other customers had left she asked me where I get my inspiration from for my work. Now that is not a common question, often people will ask about the materials and the prices (although both are on the cards) but this young lady was captured by the designs themselves.
I find that question one of the hardest to answer because inspiration is such an ephemeral creature. I do agree with Elizabeth Gilbert when she writers in her book “Big Magic” that creativity is a separate being, visiting and leaving as it wishes and you simply have to be making a welcoming environment for her to come more often.
Instead of this rather conceptual answer I decided to share how I bring it about in practice with my work. I experiment, I try different things and see what’s come from them. I showed her designs that I really like but aren’t selling well so will not be made very often again. I showed her other designs from the same release and said how they are selling quickly and I’m making more of them. It’s through this process that a new range is developed. It has a nod to the lean startup method but frankly, it’s a way that’s been in practice for centuries; to test ideas and designs, see which ones work and which don’t and do more of what does work.
We talked about the importance of experimenting and doing different things in life, not just in the designs that you are making and know (relatively) what you’re doing, but also with other areas. So if you paint then you try a sculpture class, if you take loads of nature photographs when you’re on holidays then walk around your own city and take cityscape photos. It’s all about doing something else creative so you have a new experience. You’ll find similarities as well as differences and that’s great for sparking ideas, for welcoming creativity and inspiration.
I find attitude plays a big difference too. When I’m feeling small with my thoughts and within my heart there is little to attract creativity. She stays away.
When I smile into my heart and do things to look after myself then there is more space for inspiration and creativity.
To me this feels quite logical but when I’ve explained this to some customers at market they’ve looked at me with confusion. So maybe we all just need to find our own definitions and ways of being to bring creativity into our own lives?
Making Every Day Creative – Seeking Out Inspiration
I believe that it’s important to bring some form of creativity and something inspiring into every day through daily habits but there are times when I purposely seek out inspiration, I intensionally want to recharge my creativity batteries within myself. Over the years I’ve developed my own list of ways to do this, including:
- going to art exhibitions
- having lunch at museum and art gallery cafes with friends
- seeing what other artisans are making and doing – the best locations I’ve found for this is at market simply because that’s the rent we can afford! Westfield shopping centre rents are simply beyond us.
- talking with other artisans about what they’re making and working on.
- going through beautiful art books – whatever the topic, painting, fashion, ceramics, design, architecture, fabrics and fibres – all are amazing to me.
- going to other artisans and artists studios – I find studios fascinating, how each of us set up the space available to each of us and work in progress.
- sitting on a rock somewhere with a view, whether it’s over valleys or oceans, I don’t mind. I love it when I have time just to sit and be.
- the arts and craft exhibition at the local country show, in my home city it is the Royal Easter Show but when I have the chance to get to some of the regional shows I’m like a pig in mud.
- going along to my mum’s spinners and weavers group and being around these fibre mad ladies and the textiles they work with.
- visiting a writers festival, although I’m a writer by trade (degree is in Journalism) I find I need to push myself to attend but I always come away pleased that I did it.
Nurturing Your Inner Creative Muse
It’s about being around others busy in the doing and their work. When I was part of the inaugural Rocks Pop Up I was in a space with 11 other makers and artists and I was fascinated watching the artists paint. It was like alchemy to me to. The thing is, I get this look of pure fascination on my face when I’m in another’s studio or watching someone paint or make. Some find it off putting but I think my Tasmanian artist friend Mel Hills finds it equally fascinating watching me respond to her studio!
So when I had this young uni student of English looking at me with fascination and asking about sources of inspiration I tried to give her practical and useful advice. It’s the doing that matters, the experimenting and exploring, giving things a go until you find the thing that resonates with you. I hope I gave her a good gift, a lasting thought that will stay with her and inform her courage to embrace her own inner creative muse and nurture her, because if she’s not heard she’ll rattle you until you do something useful for her. But that’s another conversation for another day.