When was the last time you got inspiration from the world around you vs. your phone? Spoonflower Ambassador Jeanetta Gonzales shares 12 ways you can find inspiration in the world around you—no screens required.  

Two images have been placed together side by side. On the left, an image of the back of a person with long braids going down their back standing in front of a forest of large trees. On the right, a hand is sketching plants in yellow planters in a sketchbook. Plants in terracotta planters in a small garden are in front of the sketchbook.
Finding inspiration offline often comes from remembering to notice what’s around you, and maybe sketch a bit too!

Jeanetta: As an artist I find inspiration in many places but when I am in need of it to complete a project quickly I seek it online. It’s a slippery slope of endless scrolling of images and videos causing an addictive dopamine rush leading to burnout. Too much time on the screen, as we all know, isn’t the most productive and healthy way to use our time and our energy. I have memories of my mom kicking me outside and away from the TV to use my imagination, get some exercise and play. As grown-up creatives we can take a cue from good ol’ mom.

Putting down the screens is a great way for us to take in the endless inspiration all around us and find joy in the beauty we see. I’d like to share with you ways you can do just that and enjoy a screen-free experience. All the photos in this post are ones taken of some of my own off-screen adventures!  

1. Attend a performance or a sporting event

Image of a large outdoor concert venue with sets filled with people.

There’s nothing like feeling the intense energy in an arena or a concert venue that’s pulsating off of the crowd. The cheering, the music! Attending a music event or a sporting event can be exhilarating and this feeling can more than inspire you. Not a sports person or don’t have a music venue nearby? Why not attend a local play or a dance performance? It can be a fun way to mentally escape and get lost in the storytelling. Attend a performance or event of some sort and get swept away. 

2. Let the music move you

Listen to your favorite songs, sing out loud and get lost in the rhythm. Music awakens sweet memories, good vibes and emotions. Music inspires, makes you laugh or cry and with each beat it can speak to your heart and soul. It is a powerful muse for generating ideas. Turn on the tunes and see where it takes you. 

3. Food is love

Image of a black bowl filled with vegetables, rice and seaweed. A hand is holding chopsticks to the bottom right side of the bowl.

Experiencing food in different ways such as going to a restaurant for the first time, eating new-to-you dishes and cooking from scratch can spark up lots of creative energy. Food can be an adventure. It allows you to have a sensory experience that can transport you, create new memories and is satisfying. That enthusiasm and sense of adventure is highly inspiring—go cook or eat something amazing! 

4. Go to museums and art shows for inspiration

Get off Pinterest and go see art—in person! Take yourself to a museum, art event or craft show. While you’re there, sit in a sculpture garden, wander around a gallery, and make time to browse handmade items created by others. Taking in eye candy is mentally expansive and inspiring, it will also leave you with all the good creative feels! 

5. Go sightseeing and travel

Image of the back of a person with long braids going down their back standing in front of a forest of large trees.

Travelling to new places and spaces is an instant way to find inspiration. Seeing different sights with a sense of curiosity, exploration and discovery can expand your understanding as well as your creativity! New surroundings are both stimulating and exciting, which allow you to be present as you experience them. Travel doesn’t necessarily mean hopping on a plane to a new city. You can experience the joys of travel by going on a drive; riding a bike, a boat or train; or via any form of transportation that takes you nearby or far afield.  

6. Grab a book

Reading can inspire your artwork in so many ways. For example, maybe you read a book as a child that left an impression on you and you use the stories or characters as inspiration today in your current work. Or as an adult you’ve read (or can now read!) about fascinating historical events, places or people that inform your work. Diving into a book can transport you—allowing your imagination to take you on a journey and adventure of your own.   

7. Move your body

A person is riding a light blue bike down a concrete path by a large waterway.

Exercise in all forms is a great way to can clear your mind. By moving your body, you can become more relaxed and centered, will allows inspiration to more easily find you. Go for a walk, a run, take a workout class, dance, jump on a trampoline or ride your stationary bike. Let the endorphins flow—and let in new ideas. 

8. Take an in-person class

Two images have been placed together. On the left, a hand holds a ball of clay against a potter’s wheel. On the right, a hand points to a finished ceramic bowl sitting on a potter’s wheel.

Taking a class can be a fun way to learn something new and get inspired by the work of others. Take a “Paint and Sip” class, a pottery class, a cooking class or a craft class. Learn a new skill and meet others. It can be very inspiring to see how everyone in the class creates and how their project turns out. Join a class and tap into your creativity in a new way.  

9. Be generous and kind

The best way to get yourself get out of a funk is to help someone else. Extend yourself to someone who could use your time or ear. Help a friend or family member who needs a shoulder to lean on, a babysitter or a home-cooked meal. Do volunteer work. Work at an organization for children, women or the unhoused. Clean out your home and donate your clothing or gently used items to people in need. There’s so many ways you can give back to others, which also create opportunities for connection as well as inspiration. 

10. Go inspiration shopping 

Colorful gift bags are hanging on sales racks

For us artists and designers it can be helpful for us to see what is currently selling in stores. What are the trends? What are the current colors, patterns and art found in gift shops, clothing stores and specialty stores? Browse your favorite stores and observe the things that catch your eye, give you ideas and inform you about trends. You don’t necessarily have to buy anything. This is time for you to be inspired by what you see and are discovering. If you find something that sparks your creativity, feel free to buy it to take home to use as inspiration for your next idea.  

11. Slow down and meditate

Make a point to slow down the pace of your day and give 10-30 minutes of time to yourself meditating, breathing deeply and calming your body. (If that sounds like too long, try starting out with 2 minutes and then increase the minutes over time!) This can help you when you are feeling burnt out, overstimulated and/or stressed. Sit in silence, turn on a guided meditation or soft music and be still. Breathing techniques such as box breathing can help calm the body and put you into chill mode. When your mind is calm, you can feel inspired from a more serene and positive state. 

12. Notice what’s around you

Two images are placed together side by side. On the left, a hand is sketching plants in yellow planters in a sketchbook. Plants in terracotta planters in a small garden are in front of the sketchbook.. On the right, an image taken pointing down with two feet wearing sneakers and bare legs standing on a parquet wooden floor made of small brown, orange, blue and green pieces fit together in a chevron pattern.

Keep a sketchbook or take a sketchbook with you. Keep it in your purse or in your car. When inspiration strikes make sure to capture your ideas in one place. Look at the things around you. Don’t forget to look down and up. Notice the patterns and compositions in nature, the colors and the color palettes you can make, the animals, the textures, the sky, the light, the architecture, the landscapes and scenes. There’s so much inspiration right in front of you. 

Looking for more inspiration? 

Check out our posts on room makeovers, dopamine decorating and more! 
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