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I read somewhere once that the number one question asked of writers and artists is “where do you get your ideas?” And there’s that story about Dr. Seuss who, when asked this question, replied with a tall tale about a man in an igloo at the North Pole who gave him all his good ideas.

But I think it is useful to consider where your ideas come from. That way when the well is dry, you know where to look for inspiration.

Here’s what I think about when I need inspiration for new work:

What have I worked on that I really enjoyed? For example, I loved making the chandelier prints. So that lead me to the idea to do a tiara because it’s similar and likely to be equally fun to do.

What master works do I really love? Looking through my art books and postcards collected from museum visits inspired my masterworks woodblocks. There are now three in this series and the possibilities are endless.

What have I seen recently that caught my imagination? I look through my photostream, old family photos, magazines, images I’ve pinned on my inspiration board. Sometimes a good idea jumps out.

Other techniques for generating ideas that help me:

Taking a walk outside. There is not only lots to look at but I find my thoughts unblock when I walk and sometimes something bubbles up from inside my mind that leads to a good idea.

Work in a different medium. If I feel blocked about painting I work on a woodblock or on some writing. If I’m stuck for ideas about my printmaking I paint or write. Getting in a flow of work seems to help even if it’s on a different project. This is why it’s always useful to have more than one project going at a time.

Stop thinking about it. When I find myself really stuck I try to take a break. Read a book, take a nap, go to the beach.

There is really no such thing as being out of ideas…it’s just that sometimes the ideas need time to gestate and don’t want to be rushed. So I take a break and try to trust that the ideas will be there when I step back into work.

Where do your good ideas come from?