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Things & Stuff

The Blog of Emily McDowell Studio

Pinterest: Just Say No

Okay, the title of this post might be a little harsh. I love Pinterest for recipes, wish lists, and looking at colors. But once I got serious about creating my own work, I've come to realize that there's such a thing as too much "inspiration." After spending a few months falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole while supposedly gathering inspiration for my own projects last winter, I realized that I needed to just stop. Why? Because I knew that in order to be successful, I would need to create something that didn’t feel derivative of any other stationery line out there right now, and I didn’t want to get other people’s designs stuck in my head. (Not to mention the fact that it's a GIGANTIC time-suck!) As an artist, it’s a double-edged sword to have images of literally everything that’s ever been made, ever, at your fingertips. It’s amazing and inspiring and fantastic on one hand, but on the other, if you’re looking at other people’s work all day, the things you create will inevitably be influenced by that work, even if that’s not your intention. Sometimes that’s okay, but as a total unknown trying to break into a crowded stationery market, it was critical that my work looked and felt fresh. This is what happens when you search "chalkboard lettering" on Pinterest. 

So what can you do to get inspired when you feel stuck? Look at things outside of your field of work. Recently, for me, some of those things have been South African painted signs, rock formations, and Japanese fashion -- but they change all the time. Also, I truly believe that the best way to come up with ideas is to just sit down and do it, uninterrupted. I know it’s not easy to stay away from the siren call of the internet when you’re trying to create something new. It takes a lot of faith in yourself and your own vision, and requires you to trust your own instincts in a way that can sometimes feel really uncomfortable. But when we practice listening to ourselves, that's where the best work comes from. For more of my thoughts on coming up with ideas, check out
this post.

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