Creative kick start: Be a collector

Cleaning out and rearranging my craft space this weekend had me thinking about how I turned into a “collector.” I guess the negative word for this would be “hoarder,” but I tend to use the small bits of random stuff I seem to have too much of, but can’t seem to let go of.

What is a collector?
For me, it’s rounding up and storing thoughts and ideas, but it’s also physical things. In college, I began a habit of picking up random well-designed flyers and paper items. This lead to seeking out other small bits of inspiration: old book illustrations, magazine clippings, even clothing tags. Now it’s second nature to see something, say “I like this” and stuff it in a file I keep on my desk. Collecting random bits helps develop your personal style, as well as your artistic one. It’s sort of like being a good writer: Most are also avid and passionate readers.

What to do with all those bits?
1. Create an inspiration board

The web was buzzing last week with examples and tips on inspiration boards. Earlier in the month, I created this inspiration board for my craft room. (Full disclosure: It was also for a newspaper column not yet published.) Like rearranging a room, it’s good to change your inspiration board and keep it fresh. My board contains the things I love: Old game pieces, weird medical illustrations, HD stuff and a picture of a potato. Because, yum, potatoes.

Check out this aptly named group on Flickr for all the different forms and shapes an inspiration board can be.

2. Keep an art or idea journal

Mixing your bits (jeez, that sounds dirty) in a journal is a really freeing way to explore ideas as it eliminates the anxiety of other people’s judgments. Plus, keeping your ideas in one notebook really helps when you’re in the mood to create, but have the “but what?” feeling.


If you’re the sharing kind (or the voyeur kind), check out the LJ community embodiment. They also have a Flickr group.

An art journal can be an active project, but it can also just be a binder with clear sheets and things stuffed into it. I keep a design binder with well-designed magazine and newspaper pages for work. A quick flip through before I design a poster or page is a quick, great refresher of style.

Finally, if you’re a collector, I suggest also becoming a good recycler. A recent ABC news special will scare the purge into you.