One of the questions I often get it is: “Where do you find inspiration and ideas?”
The answer would probably be everywhere, anytime. Of course, that is a bit too wide and short for an answer so here goes:
Generally, I get inspired when I least expect it. Personally, I take a lot of my inspiration from everyday things like talking to friends, family, what’s being said on broadcasts, in the news, opinions, reactions, and facts for example. REAL things and facts from REAL life. I like where there’s some inspirational element of truth behind my ideas. This, of course, is different for everyone. For myself, the collection of material seems to have a cumulative effect. The brain strangely connects the input through associations and after brewing for a while the impressions turn into ideas often at the oddest hours of the day, and at a time when I’m trying to relax and are not trying hard at all. (Most likely after you’ve just spent a full day REALLY trying to find inspiration to come up with that ONE idea.)
1. See something new
Now, hands up if you ever have thought: “I need to go away to a nice white sandy beach far away in the sun. I’m sure I’ll get some great ideas laying on a sunbed under the palm trees.”
Traveling is a great way to gain insight and inspiration I find. But. Are you sure you’ll be able to focus on the work itself with that nice white sandy beach and glimmering blue aqua water out there?
I have tried and it didn’t work for me. It just felt like a waste of time to not jump in the water! But for inspiration. Yes, please. (Have a bit of traveling coming up so I’ll try to make a post later on that.)
2. Do something different
How about listening to some new music? Borrow some books at the library or talking to a new person? Take a new way to get to work. Do 5 things in a day that you never have done before. Borrow a book on how things work. See a new art exhibition or go to a museum you’ve never been to?
If I’m thinking about a project I try to go for a long walk to break up the day. I find fresh air clears my head. Getting away from the drawing table and the computer does magic for your back and shoulders as well. Because if it one thing you do as an illustrator, it is sitting hunchbacked over a screen or desk hours to end. As an illustrator, you’re often your own boss, and YOU is all YOU have, so look after yourself and break up the day. I find if I don’t go in the morning, I don’t get out at all… Before you know it, the day starts, emails come in, and suddenly the day is gone.
4. Talk to people around you – and listen
You can learn something from everyone, you just have to find out what it is. Don’t be afraid to ask people around you for knowledge or advice. I find other people often can offer alternative views on a subject, be able to add things or look at things from a completely different angle.
5. Inspiration from personal or special interests
Special interests outside illustration is also a great source of both amusement and inspiration. So you can think of them as pleasure and work at the same time and hopefully shake off that sense of guilt you might have for not sitting 18 hours a day in front of the computer trying to come up with ideas.
My interests are for example; architecture, and yes, travels. I like to follow the news (what’s going on in the world), obscure facts, plants and gardening, food and my friends and family of course. I would probably have more interests if I had the time, there’s just so much out there!
6. Use a sketchbook to note down and draw ideas – any ideas!
A sketchbook is the first place where all my thoughts, notes and research goes. Write or sketch anything that comes into your mind. I have many times looked back at the studies or sketches and found details I’ve been able to use at a later date in a new context. I usually look at the problem from a couple of different perspectives and then you can bounce the approaches off each other.
7. Multiple projects
So, as it is not enough with ONE project to work on, why considering taking multiple projects you might think. I have found it easier to move forward with my projects if I allow myself to work on a couple of projects parallel to each other. That takes the pressure of one particular project and I’ll avoid a block. You might even find you enjoy alternating between the tasks and they’ll all be moving forward nicely. They kind of work like distractions from one another.
8. What do I do – I can’t come up with anything?
First of all, don’t stress. It’ll come to you. Leave it for a while, go and do something different. Go for a walk. Go see a movie. Look at the news. Think about subjects that you care about. Is there something you’d like to change? If you are working on a brief, research the subject and you’ll start to gain insight and ideas on how to solve the brief soon enough. If not, leave it to rest and come back a little later. The difference between a robot and a real person is that a human can come up with unique, new ideas. A robot can’t (yet anyway, who knows about the future!). And unique new ideas takes time. Be kind to yourself.
9. And if I still haven’t got an idea?
Take your best one. It’s ok to fail. We’ve all done it. Learn from your mistakes. Move forward. Get at it again and look at it from a different angle.
Most importantly, have fun! Don’t limit your self! At the inspiration and ideas stage, anything goes. Happy creating!
This is the first post in a series of Q&A about how I work 🙂
Recently I was commissioned by Galway City Council to create a campaign illustration as part of their European Green Leaf programme. Galway City received the designation for 2017 from the European Commission.
Galway was selected as Europe’s most environmentally friendly city, among hundreds of European cities with populations under 100,000.
I thoroughly enjoyed working on a project that will benefit our and future generations. It is great to see council and government organisations communicating their vision using original illustration by local artists and actively supporting local business.
My brief was to illustrate Galway cityscape, local flora and fauna. A really enjoyable project.
Congrats Galway! Updates on the project at Galway City European Green Leaf 2017.
Something I would love to do is to create a fully animated version of my book Murphy the Seal. So I decided to have a play with some of the illustrations from the book to create a book trailer.
Here’s a little sneak peak:
Meet Murphy the Seal, the third children’s book written and illustrated by Linda Fahrlin in the Atlantic Art studios on the North West coast of Ireland.
In the Wild Atlantic Ocean lives a happy seal pup called Murphy. Murphy enjoys playing with his little sister and usually swims close to his Mum and Dad. One day Murphy and his sister are playing chase with a fish. The water is whirling around them and the current is getting stronger. Murphy tries to swim against the current but it is too strong. Follow Murphy on his adventure in the Wild Atlantic Ocean. How will Murphy get back to his Mum, Dad and Sister? This book is inspired by a real seal rescue and seal release of a seal pup. The village of Strandhill in County Sligo, Ireland was invited to join the event when a rehabilitated seal pup was reintroduced back in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Last year we were very fortunate to see one of the seal releases by Seal Rescue Ireland. The release of the seal pup inspired the children’s book “Murphy the Seal”, as we talked about what could have happened to the seal. We decided to call him “Murphy” after the sea lion we used to see at Taronga Zoo when living in Sydney.”
Murphy the Seal is available in English and Swedish at the following stores (to name a few):
Amazon.com (Swedish translation)
Adlibris.se (Swedish translation)
Bokus.com (Swedish translation)
So, a seed was planted and it grew into a children’s book!
Tom and the Watermelon is the second children’s book made in the Atlantic Art Studios of the North West Coast of Ireland near the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s illustrated and written by Linda Fahrlin and available in English and Swedish.
“When we had a friend visiting from overseas last year, we decided to take a drive past Glencar Waterfall and finally took a turn for The Organic Centre in Co Leitrim. Well there, we purchased some organic Watermelon seeds. Once home we planted them and imagined how big they would grow! The visit literally planted a seed and our dreamings became a book – Tom and the Watermelon.”
About the book:
Tom and his Mum go to the Garden Centre where the gardener gives Tom a magic seed. Follow Tom and his Mum on their adventures in this feel-good children’s book where anything is possible.
Author & Illustrator: Linda Fahrlin
Tom and the Watermelon is available here (to name a few places):
Adlibris (Swedish translation)
Amazon.com (Swedish translation)
Bokus.com (Swedish translation)
Do you like adventures and a bit of magic? Then this book is for you. Follow Maeve and Max who lives in a town that has everything. There’s just one thing missing. Colour. Will Maeve and Max be able to create a happy colourful place to live in? Find out in this new book written and illustrated by Linda Fahrlin.
Here’s the beginning of the illustration for my bookmark at the IGI stand in Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Every year the Illustrators Ireland has a place at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, this year it’ll be shared with a few other organisations from Ireland like the Children’s Books Ireland and publishers.
The Children’s Book Fair in Bologna is on 26 – 29 March in Bologna, Italy.
Every now and then Murphy and his family can be seen sunbathing together on the tidal sandbanks in the Wild Atlantic Ocean.
“He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover, he would have placed himself in a false position.” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This year I was delighted to hear that the book to illustrate was a new edition of three selected works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes.
Today 24 entries were selected to the longlist and although my illustrations were not selected I really enjoyed reading Sir illustrative texts, interpret them and translating the words into illustrations. You can see the longlisted entries here:
Here is one of my illustrations and the text I had to work with was: ” Upper Swandam Lane is a vile alley lurking behind the high wharves which line the north side of the river to the east of London Bridge.”
Decisions. ✏️🎨 Really tempting to animate this bird 🎞. #migrations #illustrator #illustration #birdsofinstagram #sketch #sketchbook #art #artwork #freedom #graphicdesigner #noborders #nolimits #freeasabird #swedishdesign #folklore #folklorepattern #folkart #retro #etno #sketching #sketchdaily #illustratorsoninstagram #wip #irishdesign #irishillustration #irishart #inthestudio #
This little bird has just flown off from my drawing room towards the Biennale of Illustration, Bratislava, to be part of the Migrations Exhibition.
Before creating the artworks for the pop-up exhibition organised by Illustrators Ireland & OFFSET my “sitter” wrote a little text about herself:
“Graphic designer, typographer, writer, teacher, swimmer with a mild fear of sea creatures — real and mythical. Loves making and reading beautiful books, vibrant colour and affogato. Avid baker of sweet things, coffee drinker and Mum.”
So to help overcome her fear I made her Queen of the River Liffey in Dublin. This is the illustration in full:
Proud to be a member of Association of Illustration U.K! You can have a look at my portfolio over at AOI here.
“The Association of Illustrators (AOI) is a not-for-profit trade organisation promoting contemporary illustration and maintaining industry standards.” AOI
You, me and the Liffey! Sneaky peak of detail from my artwork for “The State of Us” group show opening in Dublin this Friday. Huge A1 format to fill and I got as carried away as the artwork was by the mailman. ✏️🐟🐠
So I’m part of this massive exhibition in Dublin – “The State of Us” group exhibition!
90 of Ireland’s finest illustrators, painters and designers make portraits of each other.
Co-organiser and illustrator Steve Doogan explains: “The State Of Us will be a large group show of portraits, a one-night-only event staged by Illustrators Ireland in association with Offset. We have 90 artists, around 65 of whom are illustrators or painters, and the rest are designers and art directors. Each person makes a portrait of somebody in the group, but also gets their portrait done by someone else. It will be a snapshot of a big section of our creative community, hence the title. All works will hang from wires strung across the space, 90 pieces at A1 size.”
Today was a storytelling day. I really enjoyed reading Magic Mountain to 4 classes with heaps of great questions. Walked 4k’s between blue skies and green fields in sunny weather. ☀️Good food 4 dinner, and good company 4 the soul. All good things comes in 4rs.
The earth is happier if we all recycle 🙂
Series of illustrations for the initiative “Cents for kids”. Client Red Dog Design & DAVY.
This week the Bologna Children’s Book Fair is on. On the fair you can find Illustrators Ireland at location PAD. 25 stand: B/87. At the stand browsers can pick up this illustration I made in the shape of a bookmark.
Although I’m not going this year I plan to go visit next year. There will be so much to look at and so many talks to listen to that it’ll take a year just to plan how to spend the time 😉
Who made it to the ocean today? We climbed the rocks at the sea shore and found all these patterns and tiny fossils. Found a moment in the afternoon to sketch a little bit, and bring out the acrylics. (But not enough time to finish up.)
Recently I was invited to participate in an exhibition focusing on the best of Irish Illustration. The exhibition is curated by Bren Byrne – one of the brains behind the huge event OFFSET held in Dublin yearly.
The exhibition is installed and will run in the Gallery Space at Só Collective in Kildare throughout March 2017.
Read more here:
The ‘Matters of the Heart’ Exhibition is a group show from the members of the Illustrators Guild of Ireland. The members are using a wide range of techniques and visual styles and members specialize in every aspect of the discipline.
The illustration I made – ‘Home’ is being showed alongside a wide range of other works from very talented illustrators. Well worth a peak.
Exhibition dates: 18th March – 30th of May 2017.
Read more about the exhibition here.
Just before Christmas I was asked to work to the theme “Matters of the Heart”. Having moved countries and across the world I am now glad to have found a place to call home and be with family. Where we live there’s a large mountain – Knocknarea. Perched on the top of the mountain it is believed that a neolithic passage tomb is concealed under the rocks – Queen Maeves Grave.
Home – illustrated artwork of Strandhill and Knocknarea, Co Sligo, Ireland by Linda Fahrlin for the group exhibition “Matters of The Heart”. The exhibition was put together by artist Brian Gallagher for the Illustrators Guild of Ireland.
To be opened by PJ Lynch- illustrator & Laureate na nÓg – Childrens Laureate, Ireland
The exhibition is installed and opens Thursday the 9th of February 8pm at The United Arts Club in Dublin and continues to Saturday the 28th of February 2017. Viewing Tuesday – Friday to 11am to 11pm.
Luan Gallery in Athlone just before the opening of the “Without the words” exhibition. Amazing sunset and kids mural on the way. The Exhibition “Matters of the Heart” is installed and ready to open. Lovely artworks, collages, paintings and sculptures from the members of Illustrators Guild of Ireland.
Luan Gallery, Grace Rd, Athlone, Co. Westmeath