“What inspires you?”
“What is the inspiration behind this collection?”
I get asked these questions a lot (there must be a book out there called “How to Talk to Artists”), and I can rarely answer them to the questioner’s expectations. I usually mumble something about doodling for a week, or cutting up pieces of paper and gluing them until I have a pleasing pattern. Unsexy stuff.
I think that the real belief behind this question is that artists get inspiration, and that inspiration is what drives their work. In fact, it’s the opposite. Work is what drives work. And it’s often work that drives inspiration.
Inspiration is not what makes artists artists. I may see something and get an idea (and this happens less often than you’d think), but sitting down and plugging away at something is what gets the creative work done. Showing up at my drawing table, even when I feel I have nothing to say or create, reworking an old sketch or doodling for two hours (or two days) – that’s what leads to inspiration. And that inspiration leads to even more work.
At the end of the day, work is what gets the work done.