Inspiration is a very interesting concept because it changes for everyone. What might inspire one person, wouldn’t even phase another. It can also be interpreted in many different ways.
What is inspiration? Where does it come from? What inspires you?
Let’s draw the definition from Merriam-Webster:
noun ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-
: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
According to the definition, inspiration is something, anything, that gives someone the drive to do something. Pretty vague, right? It’s vague for a reason though. Inspiration can be drawn from pretty much anything in this world: a photograph, a person’s action, a speech, a song, you name it! As long as it empowers you with a feeling that makes you want to do something, then it has technically inspired you.
I actually read this really interesting article called “The Two Types of Inspiration (Are You Using Both in Your Work and Life?)” written by James Clear which talks about passive and active inspiration. When people think of inspiration, they usually think of passive inspiration:
“But here’s the problem: consuming the success and ideas of others is passive inspiration. Every time you watch a video, read an article, or listen to an interview, you’re practicing passive inspiration. You might learn something, but you don’t actually have to do anything.”
When I hear people talk about getting inspired, they’re usually referring to the fact that they just experienced an inspiring event, or saw an inspiring photo or piece of art. Unfortunately a lot of the time that inspiration only lasts for a few minutes and fizzles away. The point at which we benefit from something inspirational is when you take that drive and apply it to your own life.
“Instead, it is through the process of active inspiration — the act of creating things, applying new ideas to our goals, and making mistakes — that we discover who we are and what is important to us.”
Although there are types of inspirational figures and sources, I’m mainly going to focus on the Cosplay/Costuming community as that’s what I’m most familiar with.
Self-learning is a perfect example of active inspiration, which is very common today thanks to Social Networking. Many artists today have created profiles on social social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more specifically to share their work and process, which in turn helps others learn from their process.
I’d like to present some inspirational artists of the cosplay/fabrication community. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of inspirational artists in the community, but there’s almost no way I could cover them all. This is my personal list of inspirations, hopefully they can help you practice active inspiration as well!
(PS. It’s a bit biased towards prop/armor work, as that’s what I’ve exposed myself to over the years, sorry!)
I’m sure everyone in the cosplay community would immediately recognize Svetlana Quindt, of Kamui Cosplay. Svetlana has single-handedly revolutionized prop making and armor building for cosplayers, by providing in depth tutorials and constant day-to-day progress photos of her work.
Best known for her expanding foam, wonderflex, and worbla tutorials, she’s always happy to help other cosplayers out by offering highly detailed video and blog tutorials. That’s not where she stops though! She has even written two books now about armor building and painting armor. Her tutorials are a must-read for anyone new to cosplay.
Harrison Krix, of Volpin Props, is a prime example of a role model who encourages both active and passive inspiration through his detailed blog posts. Harrison doesn’t post tutorials, but he posts a high number of progress photos for each of his projects to help others learn from his techniques. His Flickr is filled with step-by-step photos, which are later ported to his blog posts, where he explains each step. One of the most impressive things about Harrison is that he was originally a graphic designer creating props in his spare time, but now he’s a full-time prop maker making a living off what he loves.
Not only has he been helpful to the community, but he has also created props for charity auctions, such as Child’s Play.
Catherine Jones, of God Save the Queen Fashions, has grown exponentially through the years. Catherine began her career in the beginning by simply modifying patterns and making fun Halloween costumes for herself and her friends. She later began doing commission work as her skill-level skyrocketed. Some things she’s known for are: pattern drafting, sewing, and leather working. Just like Harrison and Svetlana, she also posts a good number of progress photos with detailed descriptions and useful tips for the processes she’s using.
Catherine now owns studio-space with Harrison and runs classes to help others in Atlanta. One day I would love to enroll in one of her classes! She also sells her patterns online.
Bill Doran, of Punished Props, has grown greatly through the years. Just like Harrison, he began his journey by doing props at home as a hobby on the side. He became more and more precise with his work until he decided to focus on prop fabrication full time. He does commissions throughout the year, documenting the processes online. Prop making is his full-time job and he loves every second of it.
Bill is now a community leader, he does weekly online interviews with other prop makers called “Prop: Live” on his YouTube, as well as helpful video tutorials and general blogging. He also had a Kickstarter last year – “The Prop Space Gun Project” – in which he sold kits of the space gun he designed for other makers to complete.
Lee “fev” Camara, of Fev Studios, is an extremely well-rounded maker because she’s highly skilled with prop making, sculpting, leather working, and sewing. Her sculpting work is absolutely fantastic and extremely inspiring. A lot of makers in the field use plasteline clays such a Monster clay, but Fev uses sculpey, something we’re all familiar with! One unique thing about Fev is that she regularly hosts Livestreams of her working, and she’s extremely friendly during these streaming sessions, answering questions and chatting with the viewers.
While she does do commissions, she also enjoys making costumes for herself for events. She is most known for her Assassin’s Creed costumes.
There are many other individuals who post extensive progress on social media websites to try to help others.
I absolutely love creativity and talent, it’s what inspires me and drives me to work. A beautiful drawing, a melodic song, a well choreographed video… they can all do it for me. The artists I listed off above all have influenced me in one way or another and I will be forever grateful to them. Fev was the reason I originally decided to give molding and casting a shot, and Harrison inspired me to push myself the furthest that I can. I was extremely excited when I met Harrison and Bill at Dragon Con 2013, I really hope I can go back one year with a costume and meet them again.
I’m an extremely visual person, so many of my inspirations are drawn from things I can see. I tend to like a song more if I have a visual I can imagine it playing with.
My ultimate mindset when it comes to work is to keep looking to the future. I tell myself to imagine where I want to be in the future and work towards that goal. Of course there will sometimes be moments where I’m pushed down to the ground, but that’s life! I keep my chin up and keep looking forward, no matter the obstacle. We only have one lifetime, so make the best that you can out of it to achieve your dreams and goals.
I’m going to share some of my other sources of inspiration here for you guys, maybe it helps someone out as well!
Devin Super Tramp
Devin Super Tramp is one of my biggest inspirations, he’s a fantastic guy who had a dream and followed it. Now he’s traveling around the world doing what he loves. I’ve attached one of my favorite videos from him, it’s about passion and how he’s become who he is today. It’s a longer video, but it’s really inspirational and moving…
One of my favorite quotes from this video is:
“The difference between a rich man and a poor man is a poor man plans for the weekends, and a rich man plans four years in advance.”
This quote really reminds me of my own work because I’ve spend my entire time at Otis deliberately planning for my future in the entertainment industry. I chose projects specifically geared towards building up my portfolio for that purpose.
The way Devin works just really reminds me of my own workflow… I absolutely love that he’ll spend an entire day getting to a location just to get a 3 second shot for one of his videos. It reminds me of how I pursue photoshoots: one of my biggest joys of making costumes is finding that perfect location to get a photoshoot done for the costume. I’m willing to travel, hike, or do whatever it takes to truly tell the story of the character.
In the end, he’s truly inspiring because he chased after what he dreamed of wanting to do.. and now he’s literally living that dream.
Peter Hollens & Lindsey Stirling
These two are phenomenal. Peter Hollens is an acapella artist and Lindsey Stirling plays the violin while dancing. I’m sure most of you know of Lindsey Stirling.
This Skyrim video features both Peter Hollens, Lindsey Stirling, and Devin Super Tramp. I really love the collaborations these artists do together. The videos might be relatively simple, but the way they are executed is simply beautiful to me. The amount of work that went into this is clear, and you can tell that they all absolutely love what they do.
Similarly to Devin Super Tramp, both Peter and Lindsey chased their dreams of becoming artists on YouTube and now that’s what they do every day, doing what they absolutely love. Lindsey was actually one of Peter’s inspirations to get into the art.
Peter Hollens’ YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/peterhollens
Lindsey Stirling’s YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/lindseystomp
As silly as this may sound, movies are actually one of my biggest sources of inspiration… Every time I go see a film in theater, I’m instantly inspired to work harder. My dream for quite some time has been to help create characters and stories for the big screen, so every time I see a movie I am reminded of this dream.
I enjoy every aspect of a movie: the cinematography, the costume design, prop work, special effects, visual effects, the music….
I think the least important to me is the script. As long as the movie is visually stimulating I’m usually extremely satisfied. Some of my favorite movies to watch are: Pacific Rim, Gladiator, Marvel movies, Avatar, Inception, and Tron. There’s plenty of other movies I love to watch, but these are the main ones.
What else can you do to be further inspired by movies? Watch the behind the scenes or making of! Sometimes you might be surprised by how they managed to create certain effects. Inception is my favorite example of this, considering the director was extremely adamant about doing as many of the scenes using special effects rather than in post.
This one is a no-brainer. Music can be one of the most inspirational things there can be, it tends to really get you into a certain mood. Although this may seem biased, listening to movie scores can tend to make you feel a certain way, depending on the movie. Gladiator‘s soundtrack is pretty awesome, because it reminds you of the trials that Maximus has to go through.
Basically the goal is to listen to things that just make you feel awesome!
Inspiration can be drawn from other artists, whether they’re friends, colleagues, or random strangers posting on Tumblr! I love looking at other prop maker’s work online because it really gets my mind going on how they made it and whether I think I could do something similarly or not.
In the end, everyone’s inspiration is different…
I’ve shared some inspirational figures in the community with short blurbs as well as shared my own sources of inspiration. With all the things I listed off, they inspire me to push myself further and harder.
I’d love to hear from you guys, what inspires you? What helps you move forward? Do you practice both passive and active inspiration?
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