We tend to think that in order to be inspired, we need to be awed by what we see. So we tend to think that inspiration is mainly found in grand, majestic things. The sky and the ocean. Mountain ranges. Seasonal changes. Famous works of art. Literary fiction. Theater. Castles. Skyscrapers.
True, inspiration can absolutely be found in these big places.
But inspiration also resides in the minute and mundane. It resides in the tiny, quiet, unimpressive details of daily life.
One of the best examples of this is Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec’s visual journal Observe, Collect, Draw! In it, they show readers how we can collect all kinds of data about ourselves and our surroundings and turn it into interesting, intricate drawings (and essentially works of art). These drawings may include pie charts, tables, timelines, and different lines, grids, shapes and symbols.
For instance, Lupi and Posavec suggest tracking details, such as the various emotions your favorite songs spark and the clothes inside your closet. They suggest tracking sounds that typically go unnoticed, such as the train, children, a truck passing, birds singing, dogs barking, people talking, and your own breath.
They suggest recording how much time you spend alone and with others, what you do, and how you feel during those times. They suggest recording what distracts you from getting things done; the kinds of conversations you have with strangers, colleagues and loved ones; the number of times you say “thank you;” and how the day’s weather affects your mood.
They even suggest creating an abstract self-portrait that represents your typical day, habits, preferences, personality, past and dreams. Because these bits, snippets and slivers of seemingly disparate data, tell an important story: the story of you.
Lupi and Posavec literally illustrate that we can do unique and innovative things with the most ordinary of moments and information. As they write, “You can use your data as a starting point not only for drawings and discovery, but also in other creative projects, such as jewelry, gifts, textile patterns, sculptures, and more!”
For instance, they note, you might create a necklace to remember a summer of travel, or a textile design documenting local weather.
Consider observing, documenting, and drawing your own data. Consider tracking something small and even silly: how often you laugh in a week; how often you say, “I don’t know” or “yes” (but really want to say “no” to an invitation or request); how often you feel uninspired; the number of times you hear someone use the word “love.”
Not only will this be informative, but it just might be transformative.
Maybe it inspires your next creative project or a character in your story. Maybe it inspires you to live your life in a different, more satisfying way. Maybe it inspires you to seek out situations that spark more laughter or make you smile or ignite your imagination and sense of play. Maybe it inspires you to see beauty where you hadn’t before.
Either way, you might discover that the minute and mundane can turn out to be quite grand and majestic.
Image from Observe, Collect, Draw!