How to Gather Craft Inspiration and Reference

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Craft Inspiration

When I first started embroidering, it took me awhile to figure out where the best resources were to find arts and craft inspiration and reference. I DEFINITELY didn’t want to look too much at others work in fear of accidentally copying someone.

Yes, other people’s work is alll over social media and the internet, but I have always tried to be mindful and take a step back by asking myself if a particular idea is too similar to someone else’s work. I definitely try not to reference others work when creating my own original designs, so the tips that I’ll be listing will help you to avoid doing that as well!

These days, the internet is full of online resources and even amazon has a ton of books you can order with one click. DISCLAIMER: First off, I am self taught and do not have an art degree nor traditional experiences in the art world, so these tips are ones I’ve gathered over the years from personal experience and that have worked for me. I hope this helps you out too!! Here we go.

Arts and Craft Reference

Take photos of real life. Take photos of whatever subject you want to use in your piece. When I do pet portraits for people, I ask for a couple of well lit photos of the animal so I can see the fur pattern, the true color of the animal, and get a general understanding of how they look. I usually select one photo to reference for the actual portrait, but having a few photos guarantees that I get the color right and the fur right because angles and lighting can vary!

Go for walks around your neighborhood. Not only does this help you find interesting foliage, plants, flowers, etc. I find that this really sparks my creativity and it’s neat to walk around and gather craft inspiration from the unexpected. You never know what you’ll find! I have a whole folder on my phone of flower reference that I pull up from time to time of when I’m designing embroideries

Look at several different photos of one concept, object, or animal.  Gathering images of different angles, poses, or perspective and really studying how to draw or stitch something helps to give you options of what features you want to incorporate into your piece. You can combine little details from every reference photo and make it your own!

As mentioned before, don’t use other people’s art as reference. It’s one thing to admire and look at and study the execution of someone else’s art, but using their art as reference puts you down a slippery slip of potentially outright copying them. By not using others’ art as reference, you’ll avoid this problem altogether.

>>Buy books specifically made up of royalty free reference images.  Here are some I use that are good!

>>Still stumped? Look into taking an online class about learning to draw and referencing images. I’ve personally taken this class and it really helped. Yuko Shimizu has several skillshare classes that are also great. In this class she goes over how to select reference and draw it from real life. She goes over a few exercises that are fun and helpful!

 “Learning How to Draw: A Mindset, Method, and Exercises” an Online Skillshare Class by Yuko Shimizu

If you don’t have Skillshare and would like to sign up for two free months, you can through my link!

Creative Inspiration

Listen to music – I love listening to all sorts of different types of music. This really helps me to get in the zone, and it helps to get those creative inspiration juices flowing. I have a playlist here that I love to listen to while I’m creating!

Move your body – Running for me is the time when I feel like all of my ideas begin to flow. When you’re moving or exercising, it gets the blood flowing, and in turn really helps your creativity and imagination to run wild!

If you’re frustrated and you’re feeling like you’re forcing yourself to come up with your next big idea, take a quick 10-15 break. The human attention span is around 10-20 minutes according to most sources. The pomodoro technique has become extremely popular, and it’s because it gives your brain a proper break every 25 minutes. Many people claim that this has actually increased their productivity even factoring in the break times!

Drink some water (or coffee!) I’m the first one to admit, I definitely don’t drink enough water. When I do, I can totally feel the difference. I feel less tired and think clearer. If you’re already pretty hydrated, but you’re still creative inspiration is still feeling a bit “blah” maybe a quick coffee break would help!

I try to keep an assortment of different types of craft projects on hand. When I’m not feeling particularly inspired to create something new and original, I fall back on these other mediums. At the moment, I have a shirt that I’ve been learning to sew!

I hope that some of these craft inspiration and reference ideas help you. Feel free to share more ideas that work for you in the comments!

Further Reading: