The weather here in New York appears to have finally turned a corner. It’s gorgeous outside. I love the warm weather and the way the city comes alive on nice days. Everyone lingers outdoors and there’s a festive, practically jubilant mood. But it can wreck havoc on your schedule: it’s almost impossible to stay inside and work when the sun is shining! Solution? Bring your work outside, at least sometimes, anyway. Remember, inspiration can come from anything, anyone and any place. It’s easy for me to say, “Go outside and get inspired!” But what do I really mean when I say that and how can you do it effectively? When you’re out and about, remember these strategies and you’ll start coming up with ideas faster than you can write them down:
1. Always, always carry a notebook and a pen. Get a notebook with a pretty cover in a cheery color and a pen you really like using. It seems so obvious but I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve met young designers, event planners and other vendors who don’t have writing materials on them at all times. You never know when an idea might hit you!
2. Leave your cell phone/blackberry/iPhone inside. Seriously. You won’t get inspired if you’re talking on the phone or your head is buried in an email or text message. OK, fine, if you must bring it with you at least silence it and leave it buried deep in your bag. Don’t take it out!
3. Stroll. This can be tricky, especially in New York City where everyone speed walks. Take your time. You won’t see much if you’re always rushing from place to place.
4. Look up. We miss so much when we concentrate on the ground below us. Turn your attention up and you might discover a fabulous window treatment, a unique font on a sign, some intricate stone work on a building’s facade, a flowering window box draped with ivy, or just a tree with its branches tangled in a striking way. And bam! You’ve got a new idea for a wedding centerpiece.
5. See beyond nature. I love nature, and it’s a great source of inspiration. But it’s not the only source. Look at other pedestrians’ shoes. Maybe someone’s wearing a pair of fantastic green high heels with a striped orange heel. Or maybe that baby in the stroller is wrapped in a blanket with a striking pattern. What’s in the trash can? What displays are in the store windows? What’s the packaging like for that new hamburger joint on the corner?
6. Take pictures. OK, this one potentially negates #2, because I bet most of you have cameras on your phone. However, sometimes you see something that inspires you and it’s hard to describe. Sometimes your struck by the shade of something or the way two colors are paired and having a picture is the only way you’ll be able to remember it and make use of it later. And sometimes you really are in a rush and you only have time to snap a quick photo… sometimes you have to break your own rules!
What have I missed? What other ways can you discover inspiration when you’re outside? Share your success stories: tell me about a time when you were inspired by something and how you used it in one of your designs.