I love it that inspiration can hit from any direction at any time.
The other night I watched the excellent 2000 movie Shadow of a Vampire with John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe, about the making of Nosferatu in 1922 (with a twist). At the beginning of the movie there was a collage of drawings, haunting in nature, perhaps from Nosferatu’s castle or medieval tapestries or whatever.
But these images are wonderfully unique. They would make great stories, great watercolors, great backgrounds for other worlds, other ideas. I see some unique inspiration coming from these. Just because they showed up in a horror movie doesn’t mean they have to stay there. I see abstract sketches coming from these; I see a story about an alien or elf magically appearing right in his horse’s path; I see a cross stitch in muted colors and poem about finding the light.
It’s easy to get inspired by walking through the woods, or watching a sunset. But what about an old movie script? Can you paint a picture based on someone else’s idea? Write a story based on someone else’s story line?
I say — why not?
Start with a Monet and end up with a modern lithograph. Start with an old Twilight Zone episode and ended up with a short story. Make a quilt based on designs from Picasso or Juan Gris. Make a needlepoint based off a Medieval tapestry. Design an outfit that reflects the architecture of the Eiffel Tower. Use a photograph of a city skyline to make a paper cutting.
We are not stealing someone else’s ideas — we are taking their idea, a creation, and putting our own mark on it. Our own version of it. A pen and ink drawing can come from a passage in your favorite book; a sculpture can be inspired by a child’s painting on a school wall.
One of the creative paths I want to re-explore once I retire is painting. I enjoyed it so much so long ago…who knows what ideas will come to mind once I put brush to canvas? I can see me trying out these designs I saw on a vampire movie one night. I can try colorful drips and drops and splatters like the ones I watched Ed Harris, aka Jackson Pollock, made in the movie of the painter’s name.
I have so many things I want to try it makes my head spin.
That’s what I want you to feel. Take a design, a photo, a paragraph from a book and turn it into something of your own. It doesn’t matter if it turns out like you thought — that’s why we experiment. To see what spin we can put on someone else’s reality.
Have you taken other artist’s creations and turned them into your own? Have you ever watched a movie or a TV show and thought “that’s really unique — I can do something with that….”? Share with us. Give us ideas!
And anyway — it’s not really “borrowing.” You don’t need to give it back.
Maybe I should have said — TRANSFORMING.
Isn’t that much more fun?