Unusual Inspiration

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Do you need some out-of-the-ordinary places to look for creative inspiration? Would you like to test some unusual ways to get new ideas? If so, this short list is for you. It will unlock your creative and imaginative thinking, leading you to the creation of innovative art and unique craft projects.

1. Urban and rural architectural design

This means looking closely at buildings and structures (such as houses, public state buildings and facilities, like libraries and train stations, industrial structures) and landscaping (such as parklands, university campus lawns and botanical gardens).

2. Children’s books and movies

These offer you a wealth of creative ideas for art and crafts, especially illustrations in picture books and book covers. Additionally, adventure movies, science fiction and fantasy, are awesome for creative inspiration.

What to look for: lines and shapes, overall structure, repeated patterns, empty space, color combinations, movement ideas, textures, any other interesting elements.

Whatever you adopt from architectural design, book illustrations and movies, it must extend far beyond the original source of inspiration to be considered your own design. A true artist and a clever craft designer never copy; they borrow the general concepts of what they see in other people’s designs and apply these concepts to their art and craft projects, putting their own heart and personal style in the final creation.

3. Unconventional tools

Such tools to work with can be small objects you find around the house (e.g. old spiral pocket notebooks, keys, business cards), beach finds (e.g. driftwood, shells, seaweed), and trash (e.g. beer bottle caps, straws, fabric scraps). You can even make some unconventional tools yourself (e.g. knotted ropes and crumpled paper balls). With all these you can create patterned artwork and textured backgrounds on whatever material you are using as a canvas.

4. Game of Transformations

This simple game, that transforms your emotions, mental or psychological states, into something more tangible, will inspire not only you, as the creator, but the people who will view your creation as well. You can play it on your own, or with a friend, as follows:

Close your eyes and concentrate on how you feel or what your mental/psychological state is at the present moment. Pick a word that describes it, e.g. “Intrigued.” Then, answer the following question:

What would INTRIGUED look like if transformed into:

  • a greeting card
  • a scarf
  • a sculpture
  • a dessert

It will be challenging to proceed with creating all four of them.

5. Visual distortion

Do you have a library of digital pictures you’ve been collecting through the years? Use Photoshop, or a similar program, to distort them. Distort and “destroy” them to the point they don’t resemble the least to the original picture – they must be unrecognizable. When finished, take another look at the distorted pictures.

  • What emotions and thoughts do they evoke?
  • Do they remind you of any experiences, dreams, wishes, hopes you’ve ever had?
  • Can you relate them to a concept?

An idea is the spark that makes us set out on our creative journeys. Unusual places and ways for finding creative inspiration most often result in impressive artwork and artful craft projects. The above list works for any art and craft niche. So, go get inspired and create something remarkable. •

©2016 Maria Chatzi. All rights reserved.

Maria ChatziMaria Chatzi is a teacher, jewelry artist, and craft designer who loves nature, learning and helping adults and kids discover their creative side. More


Unusual places and ways for finding creative inspiration most often result in impressive artwork and artful craft projects.

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