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Art inspiration is everywhere, right? At least that’s what they say. But when you’re sitting down to make your own work, it can feel hard to know how to find inspiration for art.

Whether you’re looking for painting inspiration or photography ideas, here’s how to cultivate a steady stream of inspiration—and actually turn it into art. 

How to Find Art Inspiration

Step 1: Look at a Lot of Art

art gallery
An art gallery is a great place to find inspiration

The best way to get inspiration for art is to look at other art! Frequent museums and galleries, pack your social media feeds with artists, and fill your home with art books. Take the time to study pieces and notice what about them inspires you.

Step 2: Look Outside the Art World

Illustrator Leah Goren’s sketchbook, filled with inspiration from everyday things.
Illustrator Leah Goren’s sketchbook, filled with inspiration from everyday things. 

The most unique creatives find ideas outside of their medium, too: A painter inspired by the fashion world, a sculptor intrigued by a building. Pay attention to anything that catches your eye, even if you don’t immediately know how it could integrate into your art.

Step 3: Collect Your Favorites in One Place

Inspiration wall by Skillshare teacher Hope Johnson.
Inspiration wall by Skillshare teacher Hope Johnson

You want to be able to refer back to the things that inspire you, so take pictures, save scraps and sketches, and collect them all in one place. This could be a Pinterest board, a folder on your computer, or a giant inspiration wall!

What Do Artists Use for Inspiration?

Outside of looking at the work of other artists, here are four common sources of creative inspiration for artists (and classes that’ll help you incorporate them into your own creative process!)

1. Nature

nature inspiration board
Skillshare teacher Sarah Rafferty’s nature inspiration board.

Artists in all mediums pull inspiration from the marvels of Mother Nature. If you’re not sure how to find inspiration for art, start with a walk! Learn how to look around you in Sarah Rafferty’s class, Inspiration Boards: The Art of Finding Inspiration in the Natural World

2. Memories

Skillshare teacher Amber Vittoria using old family photos as painting inspiration.
Skillshare teacher Amber Vittoria using old family photos as painting inspiration.

Processing your life experiences through art can be powerful. Learn more in abstract artist Amber Vittoria’s class, Acrylic Painting: Playing with Inspiration, Color, and Form.

3. Everyday Life

Skillshare teacher Eric Friedensohn explains how he finds inspiration at his favorite skate park.
Skillshare teacher Eric Friedensohn explains how he finds inspiration at his favorite skate park.

Plenty of artists get ideas for their art in their daily lives, from the shapes of buildings to the color of someone’s clothes. Get ideas for using this fodder in Eric Friedensohn’s class, Inspiration to Illustration: Creating Personal and Iconic Artwork.

4. Creative Prompts

Experimental art using creative prompts by Isa Cienfuegos
Experimental art using creative prompts by Isa Cienfuegos

Sometimes you just have to start making something to get inspired! If you’re feeling stuck, use creative prompts—like the ones in Marie-Noëlle Wurm’s class, Unleash Your Creativity: Draw Without Fear in 5 Simple Exercises—to get your juices flowing.

Find More Sources of Inspiration!

Inspiration for Creatives: Unleash Your Hidden Muse Anytime & Anywhere

Examples of Inspirational Art

Digital collection of works at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
Digital collection of works at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Looking for how to get inspiration for art without leaving your couch? Here are some great places to browse art online:

7 Inspirational Art Quotes

Still feeling stuck? Read below for thoughts from creatives on how to get inspiration for art, use your imagination, and turn your visions into reality.

Inspirational art quote illustration by Skillshare teacher Gia Graham.
Inspirational art quote illustration by Skillshare teacher Gia Graham.  
  • “A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” – Salvador Dali
  • “When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
  • “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Find something you really love doing and mix it with something you really care about. That’s why I’ve had such longevity as an artist. I really, really care about ending violence against women, and I really, really love playing music. It’s super enjoyable!” – Kathleen Hanna
  • “I paint as a way of looking for myself in the world.” – Amy Sherald
  • “Anything I can not transform into something marvellous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” – Anais Nin

Open Yourself Up to Inspiration!

Creative Mindfulness: Easy Exercises to Find Magic & Inspiration Everywhere