Let's talk about 'INSPIRATION'



It is fundamental to CREATIVITY.

Inspiration has a distinct FEELING. LIVED EXPERIENCE.
Where does it come from? Where does it go to?
Do we find it? How does it function related to creative learning?



Thanks for the question! I often get really inspired in a few ways:

  • conversations with others about topics they’re interested in or around questions I’m exploring - helps me think through things, exposes me to new ideas / perspectives / examples, and often provides rich material for inspiring new ideas

  • experiences: e.g. this morning was in a middle school supporting young people making things with Scratch for the first time. I left the experience with a few ideas / things I wanted to explore inspired by the experiences I had with the young people

  • reading/watching things: Often leave inspired after reading something provocative. Recently flipped through a book called Frame Innovation which challenges designers to adapt design processes to deal with more complex, networked, open, dynamics problems (lots of jargon that they unpack in the book with rich cases - the case studies and framework both inspired me to think about some of my current projects differently and made me think about some new ideas I’d like to explore)


Hi @shaanmasala
Would you say that human communication is your trigger for inspiration?
What does inspiration feel like when you have it?


I looked up hermeneutic and was left more confused. Can you please elaborate what you mean when you say it?

I think inspiration is intensely personal. For me, the phrase ‘resonance’ comes to mind. An idea, an image, an experience can grab my attention and provoke ideas that intrigue me, phrases that play in a poetical fashion, a burst of creative energy.

Sometimes it is a shared experience. I have been obsessed with gelli plate printing for a couple of years after my sister gave me a plate for Christmas. I looked up many videos and ideas on line and have shared my learning in workshops, with friends and students. Often afterwards I have an intense period of exploration, often suggested by other’s ideas and actions.

The museums can be a huge source of inspiration: David Altmedj fascinates me. At first I was physically repulsed by his imagery and a second visit enabled me to appreciate his humour and different perspective. I do not like the images of Dana Schultz, but again, the breadth of her body of work, the provocative crudity grabs me. Our Modern Art Gallery has “Les moments créatifs”, a visit to a work, with discussion shared with our group, technique demo and then a workshop where we are invited to follow instructions, to re-invent the process in our own fashion, to respond, to look at what the other participants are doing. I find that really inspiring.

The Rodin exhibit captured my heart. There is something so alive in the imperfection of his sculptures, something so raw and passionate. I felt ‘broken’ when the perfect sculptures in the Louvre left me feeling blank, but when I got to the Rodin exhibit in Paris, I felt alive, electric.


I understand what you mean by resonance and inspiration. It is the same for me, along with the burst of creative energy fueled by inspiration.


I understand. Here, CH1 on page 9 is a detailed anthropology of the term Hermeneutics

I think that the ‘creative energy’ you and @smithdcrk identified is experience of being inspired.

It would be interesting to hear more about this feeling of ‘Creative Energy’.

Like where do you feel the energy? What happens if you ignore it? When does it leave?


Good questions. I would say I lag out when I do not follow passions, or slowly accumulate a sense of guilt and overwhelm. My studio is currently a huge mess of unfinished bits and pieces… It does interfere with creativity.


I too feel the burden when I ignore my creative impulses. Would this be not listening to INSPIRATION?

When my stuff gets too cluttered I usually take a Saturday and just organize. My work is digital tho… is the clutter cognitive overload? Or, just space limiting?


not sure. I do a lot of exploration of behaviour of materials and outcomes of this (shape, colour, edge etc.) with a different that (shape colour edge etc) when not necessarily inspired and do sometimes get inspired through my discoveries and creations.
a friend told me, we are human beings, not human doings… doesn’t sit too right with me… I am a human doing…

clutter for me is a burden. a bunch of unfinished projects and ideas… a whole lot of stuck or a whole lot of not dealt with. definitely slows my creative flow, sometimes down to a standstill. It makes a big difference when I put everything away and have an inviting expanse that is not filled with parts.


I did have a read until page 11, but do not have a clear idea of what you mean in the use of the word. I would still appreciate a clarification of what you mean in the context of inspiration. I suspect it is a fleshed out and complex concept for you that is encapsulated in the one word but I am hung up on the different avenues of meaning with the Greek ‘God-sent message that is interpreted’ and the Christian ‘historical based interpretation’ that I get from my rapid read.
I think of ‘there’s nothing new under the sun,’ that we are constantly ‘reiterating’ what has already taken form before our creations, in the form that is unique to us, unique to our vision, our ‘hand,’ in a variety of mediums (tech included).


I think that this is an example constructionism. When things are unorganized, you want to make sense of it. You build order and understanding.


@MissMissShelly thank you for asking, again. This helps me too.

Hermeneutics: the human process of interpreting and translating knowledge. Usually through media. It has historically been focused on bridging personal and historical distance between minds. The posthumanist in me would even take the definition to include interpretation and translation of knowledge from the ‘world around, I’. Sensory knowlege etc. I see a hermeneutics in inspiration.


I feel the similar to @MissMissShelly. I do “lag out” when I do not follow passions. The inspiration that leads to creative energy may come from my passions or be something completely new. Inspiration is like an Activation energy. It is was gets me started. Creative energy is the drive to imagine and do. At times I leave projects undone or loose. It is sometimes time or other resource availability. Sometimes it is that I just like a project and it is hard to close it.

Part of my current goals is to clear the UFOs (UnFinished Objects) cluttering my workspace. I have stacks of fabric and fibers waiting to be worked.

In addition to Rachel’s knitted afghan, I also am working through my yarn stash. Over the decades I have accumulated a lot of fiber! Inspired by my daughter’s college knitting group who use donated yarn to knit for a local women’s shelter, I am also knitting baby/toddler caps to donate. Unlike the afghan, these fit in a small bag and I can bring them wherever I go. Opening space in my workspace is wonderful and so is knowing that that my stash is getting repurposed. Because this is a “stash project” none will be alike. As I run out of one color, I need to add a second to finish the hat.


Congratulations on your collection. My mom did lots with fibres when we were kids. I chortled all the way to our friends’ getting a great reaction when I said we were sent over because our mom is dyeing.
Our other neighbour knitted quiviat, such a light luxurious fibre. I looked like a static electrified q-tip in the hat from our St. Bernard. She slept out in the hay so she smelled pretty good.
Knitting has never been my forte but I certainly appreciate it.

I don’t know why this delights me so much, but it sure does.


Found this blurb from Don Ihde today, here:

‘A material hermeneutics is a hermeneutics which gives things voices where there had been silence, and brings to sight that which was invisible.’


Memories! This reminded me of the Mattel Knit Magic kit I had a child. Attaching a bike to a tube knitter is brilliant.