As you know, I’ve had some issues with Pinterest in the past. It was The Bad Boyfriend. It was wonderful, and it was an affront to everything moral in the world. Then I ignored it, and then I crept back out in the middle of the night to rendezvous on the balcony. You know how it goes.
Here at The Voodoo Cafe, we now refer to Pinterest as Internet Porn, and that’s what I tell my husband I’m doing: looking at porn. I have these boards I follow, fabulous collections of inspiring clothes, funky and often hand stitched, and I find them endlessly energizing. Not so much inspiring in the sense of giving me ideas for things I want to make, but energizing in the sense that they make me want to get up and go work on whatever project is currently underway. Seeing really cool stuff makes me want to make my own Really Cool Stuff. Sprinkled in amongst the fabulousness, though, are images of clothes that just depress the snot out of me: runway shots, or Designer Fashion, or stuff off the rack of any store in an upscale mall. Polyester. Mass-produced. Outfits that every single woman you see is going to be wearing for the next season. Seeing a bunch of this kind of stuff is, for me, like having someone sneak up behind me and plop a hugely heavy damp wool blanket over me, weighing me down and making me sodden and lump-like. It shuts off my oxygen and makes me want to crawl under the covers and never come out. Seeing what is—to me—ugly, uninspired clothing is like seeing really bad “paintings” on the walls of a super cheap motel: it’s so far from The Good Stuff that you wish they hadn’t even bothered.
I’ve kind of always known this, but Pinterest has really made me acknowledge that inspiration is a delicate, fickle thing, and some things can spark it, perk it, get the ideas zipping around like electrons, while other things can make it suddenly comatose. Learning the things that do the former and learning to avoid the things that do the latter is really important for those of us who make stuff, whether it’s paintings or poems, sculptures or songs. If I know I’m going to get to spend the afternoon in the studio, I’m really careful about what I look at while I’m eating lunch and scrolling around Pinterest (substitute “Pinterest” with wherever you go for eye candy). Over time, you learn the places to avoid: maybe for you it’s museums full of modern art that stifle you, or antique shops, or black and white movies. What’s perfect for most people’s brains might be deadly for yours. There’s no sense trying to force yourself to attend gallery openings once you know that you’re going to be idea-less for the next week, and there’s no better excuse for cruising your favorite websites during your lunch break than knowing the sparks of ideas are going to ignite a fire in your imagination. Make lists if you need to, and happy wandering!
For more about discovering what inspires you, try Marisa Anne’s Creative Thursday.
Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.
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