Coming up with ideas is the nub, the hub and the rub of what I do. But where do ideas come from? I don’t have a simple answer.
But I do have ideas about ideas. Here are a few of them:
Ideas come from looking outward. Everything I see, hear and feel goes in.
All that input swims around inside, mixing with memories. That collision of the outward and inward can make ideas.
Ideas like company: the more ideas I have the more I get. They bounce off of each other and multiply.
Sometimes ideas don’t like company. Voices from the radio, tv, friends and family can overwhelm them.
Starting is hard. When an idea is new it is tender and needs to be sheltered. It is easy to kill a new idea.
Ideas often visit when I am barely awake or barely asleep. Sometimes those ideas disappear in the light of day but sometimes they stay.
Ideas never turn out as planned. I picture something new and beautiful, but it always changes in good and bad ways when it becomes real. What happens is often not what I expected.
My hands have different ideas than my head.
Ideas take their own sweet time. They develop while I am doing other things and not thinking directly about them.
Ideas like motion. They unspool when I’m bicycling, swimming, walking.
Good ideas can come from bad ideas. Or not.
Sometimes I fear that I will never have another good idea, or that every idea I have is stupid. The only way that I have found to deal with that fear is to ignore it – to just plow ahead and make something (a story, a painting, a poem) for the pleasure of the making. Because once I start I don’t know where an idea will take me, and that is what keeps me going.
These are some of my thoughts about ideas – I’d like to hear yours.
p.s. All of the art in this post will be in my show next month at the Bitters Co. Barn in Mt. Vernon. The opening is September 17th from 12-4. Please come if you can!
from My Family Tree by Dusan Petricic
Just want to make sure you all know about (and have a chance to subscribe to) the site called ART OF THE PICTURE BOOK, which comes out online with interviews of wonderful picture book illustrators from all over the world. Listed on their main page right now, among others, are interviews with Oyvind Torseter (of Norway), Renata Liwska (born in Poland, now lives in Calgary, Canada), Kris Di Giacomo (born in Brazil to American parents, now lives in Paris), Yasmeen Ismail (born in Ireland, now lives in Bristol, England) and Dusan Petricic (of both Toronto and Belgrade, Serbia. I’ll let the drawings and photos speak for themselves – just know that the site often features glimpses of the artists at work and spreads from their sketchbooks. I encourage you to subscribe – it’s free and easy! You’ll find a subscription form here.
Cover Art for Why Dogs Have Wet Noses by Kenneth Steven
Oyvind Torseter’s Studio Desk
The Quiet Book by Renata Liwska
Renata Liwska’s Sketchbooks
Kris Di Giacomo’s illustration from Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier
from Kris Di Giacomo’s sketchbooks….
detail from Yasmeen Ismail’s illustration for One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck
Dusan Petricic’s cover art for The Color of Things by Vivienne Shalom
“I love poetry. I think it is the most important field in literature for me. With poetry you have to be very precise, very focused and explain simple things. There’s always something a little bit conceptual in each poem. So I love to do that. It’s a lot to do with my opinion about cartoons in general, not only political cartoons. The cartoon is a way of thinking. So poetry and cartoons are similar to me. And that similarity is very simplistic, with the concept of how to find the right, the most precise way to explain yourself. With the least possible words.” [from the interview of Dusan Petricic]