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Too Much Inspiration?

Is there such a thing as having too much inspiration? I was reading a fashion design book over the weekend and learned a new perspective that I found extremely beneficial for my own work and perhaps you’ll have a few comments to leave here with thoughts on this topic as well.

While it’s important that designers always have a finger on the pulse of trends from music to art, street culture, films, fine art movements, and beyond it’s also important to avoid absorbing too much at once. The key according to what I read is to be selective with your research and disciplined in developing only a couple of well-chosen themes so that you can produce designs that are cohesive but also from the heart.

I’d like to ask you, as you click through tons of blogs, read interiors magazines, search through Flickr — can their sometimes be too much inspiration? Does it overwhelm you? Do you sometimes stand still because your choices are a bit daunting? I’d love to hear more from readers on this topic. Also, how do you stay disciplined in allowing in only what you want to inspire your creations — whether it’s your living room redesign or a painting that you’re working on?

(image from living etc)

Posted by decor8 in real talk, small business on April 07, 2008

Your comments...

  1. Anrosh commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:01pm

    inspiration or information is never an overdose. it is always good for a visualiser or a person with entrepreneurship. always a possibility.

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  2. Pintoo commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:07pm

    exactly.. I have felt so many a time. I get to see so many suggestions and ideas that i am confused on what i should take and what not?

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  3. orange you lucky! commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:10pm

    That is a good topic Holly. Sometimes the ‘toomuchery’ just overwhelms. I wish there were 10 of me and each would pick a style and work within it. I see something I love, I get inspired, I start something new and sometimes it prevents me from completing a project I was already working on. Sort of a design ADD.
    I’m going to conduct a personal experiment this summer. I’m going away for a month and cutting myself from internet and all it’s temptations. I wonder if it would bring a fresh perspective into my work (unstained by others peoples tastes).
    helen:)

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  4. Jennifer commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:19pm

    I always find my problem is that I want to do EVERYTHING (unless it’s very traditional or very modern), because I love color and pattern and interesting stuff, and I’m more likely to go over the top than keep things focused. I’ll see one spread and go, “I want that!” and then another and another, and suddenly I’m trying to mix too many colors, patterns and objects together. Right now I’m trying to think of subtler ways to incorporate my love of the wild – like maybe lining all of my drawers in a different printed paper, for example.

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  5. Leyre commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:19pm

    I think it can sometimes be too much – specifically when it comes to the internet. I have in the past spent HOURS scouring design blogs and shops online. It seems that every five minutes I see something I love and am saving as ‘inspiration’ or just for future reference. It’s easily overwhelming, especially when I take a moment to look up from the screen and realize that all the planning and executing I’ve been doing has been IN MY HEAD and not in my actual space :)

    So I just kind of make it a point to not let myself spend hours and hours on end browsing the web for design inspiration, I try to make it more controlled and I’ve been ruthless about editing the things that I do save for future reference.

    I think there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

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  6. decor8 commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:41pm

    I think it depends on what field your in. For me, I write so I need to stay on top of things so it’s part of my research to soak up everything I see. But then there are those who paint or product a product like greeting cards for instance, and I think it’s important that they take into account that everything they see can, sometimes not even consciously, can influence their work.

    I recently had to cut back on magazine reading because I found myself spending to much money on looking at images that I can see for free over at the Desire to Inspire blog.

    I like the thought of exercising self control. It’s like with food or anything else, gluttony doesn’t equal happiness.

    I still read design blogs, ha! I even go back and read my OWN to inspire ME (yes really), but I stick to blogs now that I walk away from feeling GOOD. Like wow, that was neat, I want to go do that! I was reading blogs that made me feel drained.

    I also decided to cut back on television viewing, at least certain shows, because they were influencing how I viewed certain things and I didn’t want that influence any longer.

    This is a fun topic to explore with you. :)

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  7. decor8 commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:47pm

    Helen that is a really neat exercise. I didn’t read blogs until 2005 and up until that point, I felt very alone and uninspired. Blogs changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I don’t think I want to step away for an extended period of time, but I would like to take a 2 week vacation from the internet in general just to get in touch with some of my deep seated thoughts that don’t usually surface unless I’ve given myself some private space away from the world. No internet, no television, nothing. I always dream of going to some resort retreat or something. But I would still come back to blogland because it’s fuel and from my newly tailored list of everyday visits, I find inspiration, motivation, and new things that took months or ever discover via a magazine or the newspaper.

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  8. Jackie Von Tobel commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:49pm

    Great Question !!! This is a key topic for designers, especially designers who blog or read blogs. I have almost 20 years experience in residential design and I write books on the subject as well as teach at industry events. One thing I stress is that you do have to be disciplined in what you try to absorb into your personal design arsenal.
    You can easily loose site of what your clients want and which designs are appropriate for them when you are motivated to produce a look you’ve seen on a blog. Many times “popular” looks are not suitable for your clientel.
    I find that targeted research preformed specifically for each client with their unique requirements in mind leads to success.

    That being said, I think it is impossible for the designer to block the volume of inspiration they absorb from blogs and other instruments of design inspiration. They all add to the character of the designer and the texture of their work. The key is to work that knowledge into a unique and personal expression of your talents. Too many times I see designers trying to recreate another designers work verbatim instead of putting in the hard work to build upon the inspiration they have received to develop their own style.

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  9. Lisa Hunter commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:57pm

    I think it’s good to look at a wide range of ideas. Even rooms whose style I hate might have something useful to show me about furniture placement or storage.

    After trying unsuccessfully to arrange furniture in my loft, a picture of a totally chintzed-out frou-frou 5th avenue apartment had exactly the furniture placement I needed for my much more pared-down living room.

    So you never know.

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  10. karina commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 3:57pm

    Last year i see so much(your blog included) to decor my new house that I get very confused and I could not know what i like any more,later I see a picture that organize my head, sadly I ve lost that picture.
    I ve cut tv too.

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  11. thewren commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:05pm

    I agree and can relate to what I think of as inspiration overload. Some days it can get so much that one eventually…or at least I do…has to spin around and say ‘STOP’ ‘FOCUS’ and ‘PRIORITIZE’. It is a very difficult thing to do when sees and reads so many fantastic things that your brain just does not stop churning out ideas. However, this is also a good thing because it is often the third or twenty-third idea that is the best. I think its all about taking in as much as you can and staying sane at the same time. It is also important to be able to cut-out sometimes. This is all good in theory and in a way I should be taking my own advice as my boyfriend is always begging me to ‘stop thinking’ and simply enjoy the moment. I guess it is about being happy and in balance. Good luck. :)

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  12. Anrosh commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:11pm

    A true vacation is what holly described – No television, No ” media ” of any form. No TV or significant other for company even it is for a 2 days. Take a hike or get to the beach. Get in touch with yourself and you will come refreshed and renewed and ready in all spheres of life. I call this the ” vibrate ” mode. !

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  13. rachella217 commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:19pm

    This is so true! I always start out decorating with several ideas that I love but find I collect too much inspiration as time goes on. Soon I have so many ideas swirling around I don’t know where to start! As a result, not a lot gets done…

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  14. Tab commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:21pm

    Yes, the amount of information and design influence is astounding and at times overwhelming. I think, though, that if you have a strong sense of personal design and a cohesive inner vision, that those influences will only strengthen and inspire you. I think my sense of personal style has grown stronger as I’ve matured and I try to look at things from the framework of what I am seeking to accomplish.

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  15. Diana commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:29pm

    I’m a fairly indecisive person – well, I like to see, analyze, and consider any and all options before deciding. So yeah, sometimes I can get overwhelmed. I find it important to stick with a decision once I make it, because I can drive myself crazy with the “what ifs”!

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  16. Liason commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:32pm

    Wow, can I relate to this. What I find the most challenging in the face of so much design inspiration is to not feel like your idea is too small to matter.
    For this reason I try to spend my time sourcing inspiration in some different ways besides just looking at other artists and designers, like researching open source software, or looking at what is going on in the world of science for example. Then challenging myself to actually incorporate the new tool or inspiration it into a design or business idea.
    Most importantly, in my experience, is not letting yourself spend all your time sourcing inspiration and not enough DOING. This is the place where the most discoveries happen…
    Great topic!

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  17. Anonymous commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:36pm

    Holly, you are so fortunate to live part time in Europe..personally, I think travel is the ultimate inspiration!
    As far as being overwhelmed by it..turning off the computer helps if I’m getting addicted. even if its just going outside for a walk..

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  18. Anonymous commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:38pm

    I feel pulled in 8000 directions when I start down the road of a new project by all of the beautiful possibilities. As silly as it may sound, it’s often hard to stay focused on the original goal.

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  19. Hammocks & High Tea commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:54pm

    sometime i find it more overwhelming than helpful especially when media has honed in one a trend. horses??..check nautical??..check. as a business owner you wonder if you missed a vital “what’s hot” report. at those times I shut off the mags for a month or two and concentrate on what my fueled my business in the first place. blogs not are my main source of info and inspiration b/c each one has a unique voice.

    Holly, I just posted about my experience at the brooklyn flea this weekend if you and the readers are interested in checking it out.

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  20. Honeygo Beasley commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 4:56pm

    It is one thing to create interiors, designs, visual “things” and so forth that are of the latest fashion and/or in tune with hot trends. It is another thing entirely to express yourself and be a trend-setter.

    Don’t aim to copy or always have an inspiration “photo” or piece. Rather go with what you LOVE, what makes you feel good. Therein lies true creativity, personality and panache.

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  21. Jessica Marie commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:10pm

    Yes, yes, yes, and yes. In fact I have been feeling overwhelmed and frankly scattered about my own life art (flickr, blogging, knitting) that I’ve decided to take a sabbath of sorts – allow my brain to rest and stew and refresh itself before entering into the bright, bold, and busy world of inspiration.

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  22. Amanda commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:26pm

    It’s funny that you ask this question, when just last week, while doing a blog survey for…d*s, I think, they asked the question, “How many design blogs or design-related websites do you visit daily?” I checked my daily bookmarks and Google Reader — 10. I thought, wow, is this too much? How am I grasping anything?

    Then I went and looked at what I had starred or made notes on. Most of what I had picked out as inspiration had the same themes running throughout. I dug deeper — most of the blogs and websites I read daily link back to each other, carry the same thread of discussions, address the same themes. Maybe, coincidentally, I don’t have any outside of the circle because I’ve never pursued outside of it.

    Hmph. Wow, this comment has gotten much longer than I anticipated!

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  23. juliette commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:30pm

    I love magazines and design blogs, although am guilty of standing and flipping through the ‘zines and not usually buying. We only use our tv for watching a dvd every 2 weeks, so that also cuts down on the intake. However, I’m online enough to feel overwhelmed by images.

    I think a way I stay pared down in how I create (decor, flowers, menu for dinner party, wrapping a gift, etc.) is the fact that after a while I feel numb and only the true loves/hates stick out. Since I operate on a fairly limited budget I have to work with what I have. So I try to recreate the ‘true loves’.

    The other fact of the matter is that I have a rather short list of ‘true loves’. (as in, I’ll always be a monochromatic kind of girl) The rest is just commentary.

    So fun to read through the comments, great topic Holly!

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  24. Gali commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:32pm

    I was about to comment on that then saw Diana’s comment. Same here! I could have written that myself.
    Thanks, Diana, for posting that andletting me know I’m not the only one who does that :)

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  25. Jen commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:37pm

    Holly,

    I’ve thought about this subject often. THere have been so many times that I’ve spent an hour looking over my favorite blogs and then been so overwhelmed by all the images that I couldn’t make any of my own. There are so many wonderful things to see that I begin to wonder if maybe, by looking at them all, our own personal levels of creativity don’t get watered down. When I started to do my daily images this year, I found I can not look at inspirational things before hand. I actually disconnect from the internet beforehand, and focus just on I’m working on.. I found that by doing that things flow so much faster and look more like me.

    As always, you’re touching on the heart of a current matter! I just adore that!

    All the best,
    jen

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  26. Anonymous commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:43pm

    wonderful topic – Yes, yes! Sometimes the product proliferation is just a bit of overkill – the human element is missing (which is why I love your blog so much, because it has a more soulful approach). I feel that a designer/business owner can be inspired by what is out there, but I also feel that it is important to stay true to the vision of what your business view/style is and not be swayed by the “it” product, silhouette or color of the moment. Follow your own ideas & passions and unique style.

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  27. TraceyGZDZ commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:59pm

    Great Topic!
    I agree- travel, as well as nature, are the best sources of inspiration. When I am overwhelmed with decorating choices, clearing my head with a walk or gazing out a window allows a new idea to form, and block out the onslaught of media. Love the idea of turning off the computer, tv, etc for a month and really living! Good for you!
    Tracey
    http://www.girlzdealz.com

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  28. Chutneycarnival commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:59pm

    I am an event planner and I ABSOLUTELY have to co-sign this train of thought. I have stopped watching wedding shows and I don’t subscribe to wedding magazine. I read a handful of blogs on various subjects – if i have to go over my quote, then i swap out. there is so much in there and the eye want what the eye wants but as with all things, one must edit.

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  29. Melissa de la Fuente commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 5:59pm

    What a great question…I do feel like I have to step back sometimes and take a break. Just a little one, where I collect my thoughts and focus on what makes me happy and makes me feel good. I too only read the ones that really make me feel good and inspired.
    xo
    Melissa

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  30. mariss commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 6:09pm

    I agree that sometimes it can be a bit of an overload and overwhelming to see too much. However, that is just me. At those times, I will usually edit my bloglines, and keep the ones that I find essential to myself.

    I find what is overwhelming is that you realize that everything has been done. It can feel that whatever you do or design, is an imitation of someone elses.

    However, I’ve realized that you can still interpret something in your own way, without necessarily copying something. Good topic!

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  31. Jen commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 6:10pm

    I don’t ever seem to be overwhelmed by the stimuli presented in design blogs/magazines. It’s almost like preparing for a research paper: I absorb a bunch of information and almost subconsciously weave it into my own creative process. I mostly take note of color combinations and room composition and then put my own spin on it. I’d love to get to the point where it becomes completely organic, but as I am only new to design, I have to rely on inspiration derived from what is already out there.

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  32. sd commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 6:17pm

    stimulation overload, for real! ive got 5 gigs/20,000 pictures in my inspo folders, everything from fashion to homes and art i like. its getting beyond ridiculous and theres no easy way to sort it. i may have removed the pictures that completely covered my walls so i could paint and start again, but the madness lives on in my external hard drive.

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  33. nina commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 7:31pm

    I’m always hungry for more inspiration, so I don’t think I get overwhelmed that easily when it comes to inspiration, but I do have a problem with time, keeping up with all the reading, and not get absorbed by all that inspiration everywhere. I often find it hard to concentrate on stuff less inspiring, like work and housekeeping, when there’s so much inspiration on subjects I love elsewhere, like on the internet. Internet is so easy accessible, and I often find myself reading blogs and grazing through flickr for hours when I should be doing something else. Or I write posts on my own blog. Writing for my blog feels very ‘productive’, so I often let myself go in blogging when I should do other stuff, but I have to keep remembering that so far it’s just a hobby. I guess that’s my main problem…

    Also, I do realise that I get inspired less easily. When you get a lot of inspiration, you also fet more critical. I still like tons of stuff, but not as much as when I started blogging, reading blogs etc.

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  34. angeliaa commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 8:01pm

    This is the problem I am having right now(it has always been my weakness). I love to look and research and design. But with so much available I begin to want to do so many things and my ideas become diluted and loose their focus. That is where the discipline comes into play and I am still working on that part.

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  35. Nathalie commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 8:04pm

    Sometimes I do feel a bit overwhelmed by all the ispiration out there, i know its there and at times I get the feeling am missing out on something if i miss one day of blogging or reading my favorite blogs and sometimes that can be tiring… especially when i stay up way too late.

    But most of the time weather its reading an interior magazine or reading my favorite blog its a true joy that makes my day, every day.

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  36. Decor Fellow commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 8:16pm

    Too Much Inspiration?
    I think that is like saying we have too many sunny days in California! Inspiration is what keeps the wheels turning and heart pumping. (Admittedly, I have stacks of shelter ‘zines and random artifacts that at one point made me stop and think– Gotta Keep That–all for future use, of course. ) A zing of inspiration is like taking a moment to become aware of your breath…oh, Im still breathing–yippee!
    Very recently, I found, for myself, the keys to keep the inspiration coming in but not let it overwhelm. The first is to pass the inspiration along. As long as you’re keeping it all in…holding on to it so tightly …well, it’s like there’s no room to breathe. You have to create space to allow other things to come in. And by doing so you create a balance– knowing you let a little inspiration out and you’re going, without a doubt, to get some inspiration in return. The second key –which may be more valuable than the first– is not to feel that I HAVE to do SOMETHING with EVERY thing that inspires me. I, now, find the magic in simply BEING inspired. This means that I can pass up that match book or that image or that magazine tear because I am simply happy it gave me a little zing. As a result, I find that the things I do keep ahold of are much more useful when I need them and, at the very least, much more interesting. So I say, keep the inspiration coming–if for nothing else than for the experience.

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  37. cindy k commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 8:27pm

    i love this topic because lately i feel overwhelmed by inspiration almost to the point of paralysis. at least i’m not alone. i love to be in on the latest and really enjoy learning about process, but i also feel stuck by it.

    there is so much wonderful content in blog land alone that it can create a double-edged sword. i’m so grateful to places like decor8, flickr, etc. because i don’t know a lot or people with similar interests and it’s such a nice way to connect and get feedback.

    i just installed google reader and have 185 blogs that i have bookmarked. i think it’s probably important to edit inspiration to a certain extent and not look at everything all the time. kind of like when you put certain music in a play list. you rotate the selections and change them from time to time.

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  38. Incagirl commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 8:49pm

    this is a very good topic, indeed. i was just looking at some photos of my apartment from about two years ago before i became so design obsessed and in some ways i think knowing more has muddied my style a little. it was all a little more instinctual before. on the plus side: i can articulate what i like more easily. but sometimes the choices do overwhelm me and can prevent me form doing anything.

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  39. muralimanohar commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 10:15pm

    I just blogged about my inspiration board…I set out to lay out a theme, to follow inspiration..I ended up distilling a personal style I only subconsciously thought about. It was very interesting.

    I don’t have the problem of too much inspiration….I find there is not actually all that much out there that *clicks* with me, so I am always looking for more more more! I say, bring it on!

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  40. jess gonacha commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 10:39pm

    i am in complete agreement with cindy about feeling sort-of paralyzed by too much inspiration. it especially affects my business (i am a mixed media-ish artist), because there are SO many things i want to make, and i end up making a whole bunch of things that are not cohesive. i think there is a fine line between being inspired and trying new things and really just not being focused at all. if you are experimenting TOWARD a goal, that is one thing, but with all the visual stimulation and endless amount of stuff and ideas, it’s easy to get off track. I’m glad to know there are others (many of you!) that feel the same. thanks for posting this, Holly– it’s really helpful. :)

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  41. Laura Ingalls Gunn commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 11:29pm

    As a designer the very best tools I have are my ears. People may say they have no opinon or don’t know what they like, but if you ask a few questions, then listen carefully, you can sift through all the clutter and learn what speaks to their heart. Of course this is harder to do for oneself. A trick I learned from my grandmother regarding impulses is to WALK AWAY. If you are still thinking about “it” the next day or even a week later then pay attention. It is speaking to you. In terms of my blog, I write about what I fancy. Perhaps what I write will draw readers, but if not, I still have a blog of memories I love. :)

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  42. Cindy Ann Ganaden commented
    April 7th, 2008 at 11:56pm

    Sometimes I do get a little glaze over…but for the most part I find it all very inspirational! It’s funny how we are all consciously or subconsciously influenced by everyone else…that same images and products and subjects always seem to make their rounds on almost all of the design blogs that I frequent.

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  43. Katrina Lynn commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 1:03am

    There can never be too much inspiration….until I have to make a personal decision about it….then there are too many good things to choose from! I try to keep all my inspirations I find from magazines to pictures to websites to found objects in a file until I start to recognize a pattern. I have files labeled: “things with flowers”, “things with bare light bulbs”, “blue things”. It helps keep me on track and true to my first impressions.

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  44. MARICHELLE commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 1:07am

    Like many have already said, I too get overwhelmed by the number of posts I have to read on a daily basis. I force myself to edit my list of must reads each month, because if I didn’t I would NEVER get any work done. I have a “one in one out” rule – similar to how I manage my closet. Some months I cheat, but I’m usually good about it.

    As for magazines, I’ve learnt to cut down on what I buy and what I subscribe to. When I first started blogging, I thought I had to read every single life, design, shopping, fashion and crafting mag out there. Now that I’m slowly finding my own voice and have become more and more comfortable with what I like and write about, I no longer force myself to read magazines that I never really enjoyed (but thought I should be reading.)

    I’m not really sure where I get my inspiration from these days, I’ve been so mindful of not repeating what I see that I’ve almost blocked myself from reading certain things in fear of stunting my own creativity. As a new blogger, I think I was so caught up on what everybody else was doing and making sure that my blog was good enough. I was overwhelming myself – thinking that I had to write 10 posts a day to be good enough. Just recently I’ve been able to let go of all of that and just do my own thing.

    As for new ideas, I often ask myself what sort of things I would love to read about and what kind of features I would enjoy (sort of like my own focus group) and that usually spawns new ideas. I’ve also met so many great people through blogging and I’m often inspired by our conversations, emails and comments.

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  45. mandco commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 1:36am

    I love the never ending source of inspiration that internet provides. I think unconciously my mind does a rough sorting of what is of interest and what is not. And even though what I end up with is not all my style, I can still take inspiration from it. I love a range of styles and expressions, but in the end I’ll always come up with something that works for me :-)

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  46. Inspire Me commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 2:03am

    I have found that blogs give me inspiration and ideas that I don’t find locally or within my circle of friends. However I always see something I like better than what I saw last week, and so can’t commit to actually DOING anything. If I spent as much time designing, de-cluttering, etc. in real life as I do on-line I’d have a lovely home!!

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  47. muchacha K and SPEAKEASY BOUTIQUE commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 3:12am

    This is the essence of creating a cohesive “look” or “line” in any creative work, being selective in what one chooses to cultivate at any given time.

    I’m not afraid of too-muchery though. Not in what I expose myself to–it is my job as a creator to employ my selectivity to weed out what is useful, and what is not. To me, that is where the act of creating “art” comes into play…and each of us will make our unique choices, guided by our particular experiences and exposures…

    Great topic…

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  48. Curio + Abyss commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 3:56am

    Timely topic..: I have been dealing with this problem lately as I begin to develop a body of work for a show in the late summer (and as those costs crunch my budget, how i prioritize my home design choices).
    Anyhow, what I’ve begun to do that helps is to treat my web/design/photo browsing as careful research (i’m a recent college graduate working at a university so it feels natural to return to this way of thinking) – really asking why I am attracted to certain images above others, what speaks as true from my own perspective (and perhaps, why), organizing my findings visually (as well as textually to, as yet, a lesser degree), selecting certain images as studies, cross-referencing these ideas in different but related fields of interest, and moving forward with a deliberate and discerning hand.

    That’s how I roll.
    woRd.

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  49. Bonnie'n'Clyde commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 4:24am

    I’m frequently a victim of too much inspiration, and I do often have to cut my inspirations down to one or two when working on any given project. Because I work in various media, I’m able to indulge a bit more in my design eclecticism…but what it comes down to in the end is that there are only so many hours in the day, and only one of me. On the other hand, the impressionist painters were great believers in immitation as a form of study. Until you had learned to successfully imitate the great masters, they felt, you were not equipped to develop a style of your own. I think there’s a great deal of truth in this, and I think it’s important to follow your inspiration. For myself, I find that when I need to narrow it down, the key is to be true to who I am. I may very much admire the style of someone who is the polar opposite of me (that’s attractive, right?). For instance, I have a good friend who’s Swiss and has the most wonderful sense of color. Whenever I see her choice of paint colors or design, I want to imitate it! But with my Mediterranean blood, I am much more warm-blooded, and my attempts to follow her cool, clean style would be a pale and lifeless imitation of something I just don’t understand. I would be doing myself no justice by trying to reshape myself to be like that person. They do what they do well, based on who they are. I do what I do well, and that’s who I am. There’s an element of “knowing yourself” in this kind of choice.

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  50. patricia commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 4:55am

    I definitely love visiting blogs and admiring all the wonderful work that is posted everywhere. However, I do find that I need to take blog-reading breaks. I go away for a while to find tune my own designs and to rethink others without outside influences. It’s actually quite refreshing. As a matter of fact, I think a break is coming real soon for me…

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  51. Elena commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 6:34am

    If I feel overdosed, I tend to just let all the elements lay in me for a while. What comes about from that is pure inspiration, ready to create new things. I visualize it as liquid filled with different particles. Once the sediment settles, the rest is just my inspiration.

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  52. Denise commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 11:07am

    I believe research is necessary to stay relevant. As a decorator, my clients trust that I KNOW what is happening out there.
    I once heard a confession from a colleague who said she NEVER read blogs or magazines or books. She said it “confused her”. (I don’t want to be ungly, but unfortunately, I have had more than a few of her clients hire me, and like, duh! She is still suggesting burgundy accent walls and fake ivy on armoires.)

    Personally, I like to read books. I am addicted. I buy every new decorating book that comes out, no matter what the style. Now if I could get some advice on how to deal with a growing library…

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  53. andi commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 1:30pm

    I agree that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I recently have been trying to edit my own “likes/dislikes”. I have to ask myself if I really love something, or do I just like it in the context in which it is presented? I’m finally starting to find my own style of design, and I’m trying to stick with reading the blogs/mags that support this style.
    I also have found that too much inspiration actually stunts my creativity. I feel like everything I come up with is something I’ve already seen somewhere.

    Good topic, Holly!!

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  54. elsa commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 2:49pm

    I’m not a designer but love to look at magazines and blogs that I find inspire me. If I see a certain piece of furniture or paint color I first have to take a look at what I have and what will actually fit. I once fell in love with a room pictured in Domino magazine. The paint color combination felt so calming I just wanted to go purchase the paint right away. But I waited and every so often looked at the picture. I finally decided not to do it because the architectural details of that room made those colors work. My walls have no details whatsoever and would not look no where near the same. Also, I was about to invest in a new dining table for my apartment (rented, not owned) and also decided not to. Instead after viewing some pictures in magazines and blogs of painted wood tables I decided I’d just paint mine.

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  55. Paula commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 4:01pm

    This is a really good topic and I’m going to put my 2 cents in, even if I’m no. 54. :)

    I think that an overabundance of inspiration can make me question what it is that I really like. No sooner have I found a “style” then I see another perfectly photographed apartment that I want to emulate. It becomes so hard to stick with one thing/style/idea when newer + (possibly) better ones keep appearing everyday!

    I doubt that people had as much of a problem with this in the days before cheap magazines, books, and computers–when you had to actually show up at the gallery to see a painting–but now I think there’s just so much visual stimulus that it can be hard to filter it appropriately.

    I go through phases where looking at all the art and decoration ideas on the internet makes me really inspired, and then phases where it makes me really depressed. I think the key is knowing when it’s going to overwhelm you and when it’s going to push you to do something new yourself.

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  56. capucine commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 5:10pm

    I have grown from saving images that I love. Saturating myself for a few years educated me, and I was able to suddenly see one day that my all-star favorites were all of a theme. The dust settled. I could stop looking and start decorating with certainty. I now enjoy seeing wonderful products and rooms and vignettes, but I sort them into “for home” and “admire the artistry”. I don’t want everything anymore; I just want almost-empty with a very few things I love that I acquired in a way that makes me smile at the memory.

    Which is a long way of saying, I had an overload phase, I found my own style out of it all, and now I can just enjoy without wanting. Hooray for the blogs that got me there (decor8 among them)!

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  57. McNattums commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 11:32pm

    One of my coworkers is planning her wedding right now and she definitely has inspiration overload. There are just too many great themes, color palettes, designs etc available. How is one to make up their minds?

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  58. Marisa and Creative Thursday commented
    April 8th, 2008 at 11:50pm

    I saw your post yesterday and have been thinking about it off and on since then ~ and I know you and I have talked about this a couple of times as well. So this is what I’ve decided today as a creative person who LOVES all the constant availability to inspiration especially via the internet. It’s all about discernment to know when you need a boost of inspiration and when it’s important to focus solely on your own voice for inspiration. Most often when I create I become enamored with absorbing as many images as I can via blogs and magazines. I have a whole box filled with my favorite magazine images I’ve collected over the years. Other times, the image absorbing can become overwhelming and cloud the vision that I have for a particular project. I’m working on a project right now where I want to know as little as possible about how “others” have done it before, so I can stay true to my vision.
    Since I’m creating this project solely for myself and my vision, I realize as I write this comment, that I have no editors, no bosses, no clients that I have to answer. My experience with the corporate world is that everyone is so busy competing with one another that a lot of energy gets put into researching other products, comparing them to yours and then coming up with marketing strategies to make them different enough to outsell your competitor ~ instead of putting that energy into the creation. It’s not usually encouraged that your unique perspective will be enough. It’s always, we have to keep an eye on “what the other’s are doing”. I guess my final thought on this is, it really depends on what place you’re in when you are seeking out that inspiration ~ are you competing, or not feeling good enough? Or are you truly INSPIRED and confident about the creative work you are putting forth. This might be the subtle difference as to why sometimes it feels uplifting and other times it feels draining.
    Thanks as always for throwing out such thoughtful topics for us discuss!

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  59. dailydesignspot commented
    April 9th, 2008 at 3:05am

    this really does set off a hot disscussion.. i wonder if a middle point exists? my girlfriend.. andrea.. takes most of her inspiration from nature and not so much from the work around her that she sees.. ACTUALLY..i just did a little post about her and her work on my little blog thing.. haha.. please check it out! may be… inspiring??

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  60. kat commented
    April 9th, 2008 at 10:51am

    I heard a great statement the other day that I believe really applies to this and other areas of life: “Everything in moderation – Including moderation!” In other words sometimes it is necessary to overdose on something… and ‘inspiration’ is’nt a bad choice : )

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  61. Sigsy commented
    April 9th, 2008 at 1:29pm

    noooooo

    the inspiration is so inspiring although I do like to spring clean my blogroll and remove things and if I miss them, pop them back on and move things around. It’s a magical mystical world and I have never been more inspired.

    Your Blog too is just super! Happy Wednesday. Keep the inspiration coming!

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  62. Carla Sonheim commented
    April 14th, 2008 at 12:55am

    I think this is a very, very good question.

    I suppose everyone is different, but lately I have felt inundated, overwhelmed…

    In fact, I was just talking about this very thing with a friend this morning! We agreed that we both wanted to go on an “inspiration diet.”

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  63. gigegy commented
    April 14th, 2008 at 8:52pm

    Yes! I have 80+ blogs that I subscribe to. There is no way that I can read all of them, yet when I set out to purge and condense this list, it’s always too painful to pick which ones to let go and which ones to keep. Same goes for my 5 foot stack of magazines at home and even my (over 500!)online DVD rental queue.

    In the end I end up reading about 5 blogs regularly and just browse through the rest every couple of months or so. I also end up reading the blogs at night while sitting in front of the TV which means that I only really pay attention to one or the other. Ha! I also have tons of TV shows waiting for me in Tivo land.

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