I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration lately, and how technology is kind of killing mine.
It started with browser bookmarks. I had a folder called inspiration that contained my favorite websites. Then RSS feeds came and I moved all of those bookmarks over for faster, easier access. Flickr was next; I searched and added all of my favorites and discovered some new ones, too. Then came Twitter, Facebook and Ravelry, and now there is Pinterest.
All of these ways to manage inspiration have left me very uninspired.
A few weeks ago I was helping my daughter research her next artist, Paula Scher. Our library only had one title that mentioned her: Inspirability. When I opened the book, I found one of my favorite inspirational pieces of all time: Michael Bierut’s “Design Counts.” postcard.* This card has literally sat on my desk or been pinned to my bulletin board for over 10 years.
I’ve been thinking a lot about that card and how it influences my work. Would it have had the same effect on me over the past 10 years if I had simply pinned it to an electronic bulletin board? I sat down and made a list of some of the things that inspired the designers in this book: music, art, photography, food, movies, books, history, fashion, architecture, details, curiosity, living. That last one got to me. Living.
Now there’s something to be said for having a resource to keep track of recipes I want to try or patterns I want to make. However, using it to manage things that inspire me was overwhelming. As a visual artist, it’s hard to pull myself away from the gorgeous photographs streaming down the page. And there’s a lot of beautiful work out there. I spent so much time glued to my screen that I stopped noticing the beauty around me. I spent so much time looking at everyone else’s work that I had little time left for my own.
I stopped living my life creatively.
So I did something drastic. I deleted almost a year’s worth of pins. Surprisingly, it wasn’t very hard. I deleted the app from my phone, too. I’ve been Pinterest-free for a few weeks and it feels good.
This is hard to admit and even harder to write about. I love how social media has brought the creative community together in so many different ways. I’m not deleting my accounts or anything — I’m not crazy! I am looking forward to rediscovering my creativity offline, however, and most importantly, sharing that here on the blog.
How has social media affected your creativity? How about your life in general? Feel free to discuss in the comments. I’m interested in your perspectives!
*For those who aren’t familiar with the 2000 presidential election chaos in Florida, the image is a “butterfly ballot” used by Palm Beach County. Almost 7,000 votes had to be discarded because this poorly designed ballot confused voters and caused many to punch the incorrect hole for their candidate or to vote for more than one candidate.