Staring at the blank page or screen in front of you can feel overwhelming, and even the most experienced artists struggle to find their motivation sometimes. Having a few go-to sources for inspiration can be the trick to getting out of a creative hole and helping you put pen to paper again.

Here, we’ll show you where some of the world’s best artists go for illustration inspiration, how they keep themselves motivated during tough seasons, and how you can fan those flames of creativity to create your next masterpiece.

Where Do Artists Get Inspiration?

Everyone lacks motivation at some point in their creative journey, and it’s important to remember that inspiration for illustrators and artists isn’t like a lightbulb that can be turned on and off. But knowing what lifts you up and where you can go to ignite creative ideas is one of the most important discoveries you can make as an artist.

For most creative people, the world around them is one of their biggest sources of inspiration. Music and writing can also spark an idea for a drawing or illustration—even if it’s something as simple as a single lyric line or character description. 

Being able to go to another place (even if it’s mentally and not a physical change of scenery) can be both moving and freeing, giving you space to focus on something entirely different from your own project. 

A scene from a film could be what triggers an artist’s next painting, or a dance class could inspire you to think about movement in a new way and want to incorporate that into your next illustration. Art inspires art every day, even across different mediums. Think outside of your own sphere to experience what other creators have made.

Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration, as well as a place to store and organize all of your favorite photos and artworks.

Finding inspirational material is only the first step in the process, though. Organizing your sources so that you can reference them later is just as important. Skillshare instructor Sophia Yeshi likes to use Pinterest boards to categorize her collection into different topics like editorial, infographics, or home decor. “I find having boards really helps me to be able to visualize, set the tone for a piece,” she says. “Often I’ll start with boards I already have and add to it.”

Now that you have a better idea of some of the ways artists find inspiration for their work, we’ll show you where you can start looking for your own ideas. 

Keep Your Inspiration References Organized

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Where to Find Illustration Inspiration

Inspiration for illustrators can be found almost anywhere. Here are some of our favorite places to look for that next brilliant idea.

1. Your Favorite Illustrators and Artists

Particularly for new illustrators, finding your signature style can take some time. A great way to begin identifying your artistic preferences is by thinking about the artists you like to follow and why. After all, their work is probably what inspired you to want to create your own!

Artist and Skillshare teacher Laci Jordan shows how she uses books featuring her favorite artists as inspiration for her own work.

Skillshare instructor Temi Coker explains why this can be a useful exercise: “I feel like the secret sauce is in how I think…so I try to look at these other artists, try to figure out what they’re thinking. I really feel like that’s where I can grow as an artist.” While you should never directly copy another artist’s work, it’s perfectly fine to feel inspired by their use of color, shape, composition, or overall tone.

2. Social Media

When it comes to social media, there’s a fine line between useful motivation and time-wasting distraction, but following other artists and topical hashtags can give you insights into new areas of illustration. If you know the type of drawings you want to create but the visual style is still challenging you, find other illustrators on Instagram or Pinterest who are already making this type of work.

Graphic designer and Skillshare instructor Aaron Draplin’s Instagram feed is a constant source of inspiration.

Just remember to take breaks or limit yourself to a certain amount of time per day. With so many artists online, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you get caught up in endless scrolling.

3. Traditional Media

Print media may be slowing down in favor of digital these days, but there’s still nothing quite like cutting clippings from magazines or newspapers and sticking them in a sketchbook or on a poster board. 

Find inspiration for your next project in old magazines and print newspapers.

While the style may not be exactly aligned with the illustration you want to create, reflecting on the images or ideas that come into your mind as you’re flipping through the pages can be inspiration on its own.

4. Your Own Work

Whether it’s illustrations you’ve already created or some of your earliest sketches, never underestimate your ability to inspire yourself! 

Skillshare instructor Leah Goren uses her own sketchbooks to find inspiration for her next projects.

Take some time to look back at previous work and feel proud of how far you’ve come. It might be time to redo a piece you’d made in your early days and make adjustments based on everything you’ve learned since then, or take one element and expand it into an entirely new illustration.

5. The Skillshare Community 

Our online community is full of some of the most talented artists in the world. So, it’s not hard to find inspirational illustrations all over, from new classes with our expert instructors to current and past student projects.

Learn from and be inspired by your peers in the Skillshare community!

If there’s a particular subject that interests you, find a class to challenge you. Or, browse through project examples in some of our top illustration courses for new ideas that you could work into your own illustrations.

There’s inspiration to be found everywhere you look. Start gathering a few examples of work that speaks to you, and you’ll soon find yourself flooded with motivation!

Find Inspiration All Around You!

Creative Inspiration: Illustrating the Everyday.

Written by:

Holly Landis