Inspiration, shiny syndrome and the search for a penseive


Many artists say that to be a professional you need to rid yourself of the notion of inspiration. that you have to create all the time regardless of feeling inspired or motivated or artistic. That you should always create. And I agree, to a certain extent, we should always create, it is part of what makes us artists, and business people. The more you create, the more you want to create. The easier art comes. The better your technique, the better you can produce what you see in your mind’s eye. The more you practice the better you get. It’s that way with everything, writing, music, stock trading, the more you do it, the better you get, the more you enjoy it and the more people respond. But, I also believe that if you are open to inspiration, if you are always on the lookout, then inspiration can strike anywhere, anytime. My problem is that I have too much inspiration, so I am always excited about what I am working on… All 5 or 10 projects! I get overwhelmed by having too much that excites and interests me. And when that happens I go into overload mode and can’t create enough. That becomes a self feeding loop. But if I put a project on the back burner, then it is no longer shiny when I go to pick it up and the way has been blocked by another bunch of shinys.

Shiny Syndrome is a terrible curse to bear at times, but it is also wonderful for constantly finding new sources of inspiration. at any given time, in my mind, I will be working on 2 blog series, 3 blog posts, 2 new blog ideas, a newsletter (that I probably won’t send), a bunch of tweets, 2 exhibition concepts, 3 full sized paintings, 2 renders, 5 sketches and about 10 unformed concepts. And a partridge in a pear tree. And that’s just work stuff. So sometimes my brain wants to explode!

Do you remember the pensieve in the Harry Potter books? I think most artists would give an ear for something like that!

When I get overwhelmed I tend to hide away. this doesn’t do me, or my art, any favors. I need to learn to mitigate my Shiny Syndrome and put it to work for me, instead of against me.

What do you do to sort out all the ideas in your head? Do you have a pensieve system?

3 thoughts on “Inspiration, shiny syndrome and the search for a penseive

  1. As you well know, I tend to suffer from the same syndrome, exacerbated lately by a profound awareness of my mortality, and how little time I may have left. Just a couple of weeks ago I did a pre, test shoot on an idea I have had burbling away in the back of my head for over 20 years.

    I try to prioritise according to practicality firstly. I have ideas for a shoot at Lake Mungo that I have been developing for decades, but I’m not likely to get there any time soon, if at all, so they remain firmly on a very back-burner. My concepts for landscape shoots in Iceland and the south of France, even more so.

    At the moment, in my current physical state, that means studio shoots. On the other hand, that does mean I have, after 20 years, finally got back to shooting nudes, which was a shiny I had always had an eye on. As for the rest of the projects, shoots, supporting my fellow creatives who are dear friends, steampunk builds, music reviews, articles and more, I do them when I have the time, energy and resources available. I used to rely on my memory as a storage/prioritising tool, but, in light of some of the likely, though less desirable, outcomes of my condition I now am using Wordpad on my netbook and a notepad by the bed. That way, when there is a need for a new project I simply choose the one I have the most valency for at the time from the smorgasbord of ideas.

    I know many of them will not see the light of day. That’s inevitable. Sad, but inevitable. My heirs know where to find them, and maybe they will bring to bear their own creative brilliance on some of my unfinished, or even unstarted, works one day.

  2. I can really identify with that. So may ideas, so little time. I used to just rely on a traditional visual diary, but now I use the computer a lot, too. So I have collections of pictures, notes, ideas for projects, photos of work in progress, a lot of half-done work. But it is a lot harder to go back to a project than to carry through on the buzz of a new idea.

    Not being a professional artist has both advantages and disadvantages – the disadvantage being that I do not devote nearly as much time to working on my skills as I would like to because of the time spent on my paid work. The advantage is that I don’t need to worry about earning money or fulfilling commissions, so I can stop if I need to. Previous episodes of severe depression have taught me how to prioritise and task shed, so I no longer feel guilty about saying “I just can’t do this now”. But I tend to get really immersed in whatever my current project is, so it’s usually the rest of my life that gets put on hold. I haven’t worked out how to maintain a balance yet.

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