Inspiration leaking from me like custard from a pillow case

that cloud looks like a duck

My thoughts recently, ever since the sojourn last week down to London, keep coming back to to inspiration, and more precisely the sources of it. And reviewing my most recent posts on this ‘ere blog it seems that my mind’s meanderings have found there way into my writing.

What a hopelessly elusive topic to try and pin down you might think, so naive to attempt to define a term that poets and artists have striven to capture, to harness, for centuries. Well you may well think like that, but as you’ve clearly been at the uzo collapso, I’ll ignore you for the moment and let this particular train of thought steam onwards across the viaduct of possibility.

Now obviously inspiration comes from all around us, everything we see everywhere around us is stimulating our unconsciousness mind, influencing us in ways that science has yet to fully understand. For designers, inspiration can come at the literal click of a button, there are flippin’ hundreds of websites and blogs whose sole function is to scour the web, collect and then numerically display other people’s work, in easy to view pages with little or no comment on the work (apart from the ubiquitous tag “cool” and “graphic-design”). There is a real danger that design “inspiration” will simply become a horrifying circle where each supposedly fresh work is simply a mimicry of the currently popular selection of images doing the rounds on the blogs (and they all seem to feature the same content), which in turn will be picked up by  these erstwhile aggregators of hip graphical trends and then swallowed again by us in our continual search for ideas, limited by deadlines and frustration to our pop-up RSS feeds.

Deep breath.

Yes, you’re right in thinking that I have been spending a lot of time recently trawling such sites searching for the proverbial thunder bolt that would ignite the single tree standing lonely in the field of my thoughts. And there are a good number of excellent sites for plucking ideas and styles from. The best thing about the web is the breadth of information available at one’s keyboard-tapping fingertips and there’s plenty of talented people shoving their remarkable, ingenious and down-right nice work up all over it.

However by inspiration I’m not referring to copying the drop shadow or colour palette or font style from someone else’s work. Maybe I should have been clearer at the beginning, inspiration for me means an indefinable beam of genius, a eureka moment, a cross between Archimedes taking a bath and that seen in Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark where he uses the morning dawn and a bit of stick to pin-point the location of the last resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Inspiration creeps up on you when you least expect it, springing out out the page, or the screen, and you knew it all along, it’s just that now you realize that what this logo really needs is a halftone effect. Or whatever.

Most importantly I think, inspiration for design does not have to come from design, so I’m going to step away from my screen for a bit and go and stand in the park. Or phone a friend I haven’t seen in ages. Or go sailing, or cycling, or wakeboarding.

Anyway in keeping in line with the hypocritical nature of this ramble, I’m going to list some sources of recent inspiration on my blog; a song, an interview, a poem.

Tommy C – Dan le Sac and Scobius Pip

Salman Shaheen’s Interview with Tony Benn

Finally I heard Luke Wright poet this all over Radio 4;

On a stale and dusty summer’s day
as dull as British sport
a waitress serving smoothies to
some skateboarders in shorts

stopped dead in her high-heeled tracks
Stood gaping with her load
as seven khaki-clad strange men
came ambling up the road.

In front a round faced gentleman
short legs and lennon specs
with just a tad of what we call
Napoloean complex.

Behind him was a taller chap
effete and upper class
saying: Fall into three lovely rows
to the men as they walked past –

a good old boy with medals and
a lad not so enthused,
a spiv, a Scot and a white haired chap
saying: May I be excused?

The skaters sat there staring at
the men’s peculiar state
then the cockiest of their number
shouted – oi what’s your name mate?

The words aimed at the scarf-wrapped lad
who didn’t look quite right
but shorty stepped right in and said:
Don’t tell your name, Pike!

Which made the skaters crack right up
and call out to the lad:
Oi mate, is you called Pikey? No!
Oh mate, that is well bad!

Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring
the chap with the medals crooned
which set the dour faced Scot right off:
We’re all doomed, we’re all doomed.

But despite an inauspicious start
they sooned waved their white flags
and the men and skaters sat together
smoking Walker fags.

And the skaters told the men how life
was these days less intense
and how it was partly down to them
as the last line of defence.

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