A City of Inspiration

organized chaos

As much as I respect and admire tangible inspiration boards, my favorite thing about cataloging my inspiration online is how quickly I can see trends forming and patterns shaping, molding into each other to determine what the landscape of creativity might look like for the year. After searching my Pinterest feed for a particular image late last night, it became evident just how connected images can be, seemingly conversing with one another – regardless of when and where they were originally formed.

organized chaos

Take the above examples, for instance. A lookbook image for handbag manufacturer Building Block plays perfectly with the hues, tones and organized chaos of an archived Scheltens and Abbenes editorial campaign. It’s as if the two were made for each other. And the following two images (from Building Block again, this time paired with Finnish designer Molla Mills), color coordinated and textured as such.

organized chaos

organized chaos

A few years ago, I ran a series entitled Juxtaposition, where I searched through portfolios of independent photographers, perusing countless photos and playing matchmaker with image upon image. It was a thrill, and I loved seeing the world connect in this small, visual way. The images were inspired, not imitated – the perfect balance to strike, just like the images I’m sharing today. (Below, a random assortment of styled buttons from accessory house Ban.Do sings when paired with the work of Kontor Kontur.)
organized chaos
organized chaos
It’s an interesting conversation to have – inspiration vs. imitation, specifically within my own small corner of the design world. And although I don’t want to speak to imitation today (the intentionally negative act warrants no explanation, in my opinion), I do think it’s important to open a discussion surrounding the boundaries of inspiration. (Below, a product vignette from stylist Rosa Regerar plays nicely with Danish furniture company HAY’s most recent catalog.)

organized chaos

hay catalog styling
To me, one of the greatest definitions of inspiration comes from Brainpickings author and founder Maria Popova, a brilliant woman who curates daily snippets of interesting items across a variety of disciplines and time periods. She writes:

Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to culture, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.

organized chaos


And I think she’s 100% right. Connecting dots and sharing, re-sharing and spreading ideas to create and build and grow. (Above, the organized chaos of a Catalina Bartolome portrait works well with a recent RAW color photo shoot.) This is inspiration. This is creativity. And, like LEGOs, it’s up to us to build newer, bolder, better structures utilizing the tools we already have. Can we re-imagine new pieces, rather than sticking to the same blueprint that imitates the buildings around us?
Here’s to building a city of inspiration, one LEGO at a time.
p.s. I chose the images above because they are perfect examples of inspired pairings, rather than imitations. They are simple byproducts of shared experiences and visual interests. Although imitations certainly exist, I don’t wish to participate in the spreading and supporting of those pairings.
  • I think it’s so important to seek out inspiration that your peers may not be exposed to. That way, your city can’t help but be unique. Also, I must say that your juxtapositions & now your pairings make for an awesomely shaped inspiration LEGO!

  • Great post. We are very must so living in an image sharing world. However does this also prevent us from pushing our creativity when it is so easy to see what everyone else is up to? Sharing is great but keeping some inspiration to ourselves is just as important.

  • I think the images you showed perfectly convey inspiration. No one wants to see a copycat photo. I think the best part of the creative process is seeing something someone else did, being inspired and turning around a unique interpretation.

  • I really love this post. I think its so very easy to imitate while it take serious effort and thought to take all that inspires you and make it your own. The images you chose are perfect examples of this!

  • Yes! This is something I recognized back in 2006-ish when I first fell in love with flickr. I would swoon over my flickr favorites regularly. I was very much struggling with my post art school “who am I as an artist and what is my unique style”. Looking at my flickr favorites I could recognize certain colors and themes and topics that I was drawn to. Something I could only find once a huge collection was amassed and put together as one whole. I found my own unique vision by the things I collected from other people, and being able to see them all in one place. These things helped me learn about myself and give direction to my own work. I felt like my whole entire schooling career was a search for “my style” but I only found that on my own later, thanks in part to online collections and “virtual bulletin boards”.

    • @Robyn – I love this! And gosh, I find that our search for our style is ever-evolving, isn’t it?

  • I think i first started reading your blog because of your column juxtaposition, i loved it so much. its always so neat to see two seperate images look all so muh alike.

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