Hirshohorn museum different colored walls

The search for inspiration

Things are moving fast in this world; too fast, in my opinion. Lack of time is a global epidemic and it’s destroying people’s ability to feel inspired on a daily basis. It’s the “all work and no play” mentality that is leading people to feel mentally fatigued and stuck. We need to take some time to sit down, have a cup of coffee, and just observe something that we find absolutely beautiful and moving. Inspiration is lost. It’s our job to search for it in our hectic, daily lives.

Here at Grafik we take inspiration seriously, and look for unique ways to solve client problems and build successful brands. Although you can’t force creative inspiration, you can go to places where you know you might experience it. We tried this out last week during an agency outing to the Hirshhorn Museum to see two exhibits: “Brand New: Art and Commodities in the 1980’s” and “The Message: New Media Works.” It felt great to be walking around the iconic circular hallways of the Hirshhorn Museum on a rainy Tuesday afternoon.

hirshorn mural

group at hirshorn museum

Numerous pieces caught my eye, but there was one specific film in the New Media exhibit that really drew me in. It was a beautiful panoramic video set in Haiti called “Halka/Haiti 18°48’05″N 72°23’01″W” by C.T. Jasper and Joanna Malinowska. As I sat down to watch it I realized the movie was coming to an end. As the movie was starting over, I began feeling very impatient with the slow opening scene of the sun rising in a Haitian village. A coworker then informed me that the film was an hour and twenty minutes long. Although I was starting to feel inspired by this panoramic view, I decided to step away from it because it didn’t fit in my busy schedule.

In retrospect, I should have stayed to watch the whole film. I had the time, but my daily routine/habits interrupted my inspiration. So, how do we solve this problem? Inspiration is more important than we think.

There’s a great Harvard Business Review article by Scott Barry Kaufman discussing the importance of inspiration called, “Why Inspiration Matters”.

It breaks down a few key points as to why this matters on a personal and professional level:

1. Three main qualities.
These are evocation, transcendence, and approach motivation.” First, a feeling is evoked naturally and not forced. Secondly, you experience a vivid, transcendental moment of clarity. Finally you act on this inspiration by expressing these feelings through creativity.

2. Inspired people share certain characteristics.
The article mentions that inspired people are usually more open to new experiences and are more confident. Also they shared the passion of mastering their skills but not in a competitive way. I believe we creatives are more aware of our need for inspiration because we can’t work without it. But it’s not limited to creatives. Everyone needs it, in all fields. We need to be open to finding that spark that will help us create our best work, stay motivated, lead and inspire others.

3. It’s not the same as positive affect.
Feeling enthusiastic about an experience doesn’t mean you are in an inspired state. Inspiration is a slower, more meaningful event, better described as an “awakening”. We shouldn’t confuse these two.

4. It’s the springboard for creativity.
Yes. Inspiration and creativity go hand in hand. Designing while feeling inspired vs. not inspired feels very different. “Inspired people view themselves as more creative and show actual increases in self-ratings of creativity over time.”

5. Setting goals.
People who were generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained.” If you feel inspired on a daily basis, you will want to set goals and improve your personal and professional skills. There’s always a need to learn something new.

6. Increases well-being.
The article mentions a study where people who were exposed to Michael Jordan’s success brought a great amount of inspiration and well being into their lives. Role models and leaders play a major role in inspiring people to change their habits.

As cliché as it may sound, we need to stop and smell the roses. I personally feel the most inspired after traveling or watching “Chef’s Table” on Netflix. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you feel refreshed afterwards. It will make a dramatic difference in how you think and the work you produce. With that said, I’m really looking forward to our next Grafik outing. I plan on taking a different approach: being more open to new experiences. Perhaps this time I will be able say “yes, I have time for this”.

Diana Revelo, Former designer at Grafik
Diana Revelo

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