on inspiration, influence, & creating

I’m wordy and deep today…there’s your warning.

I’ve been thinking about inspiration and influence…and how I am affected by the two. There isn’t much I don’t find inspiring in some way or another. Influence, on the other hand, I have to step back and really look at my life to see what & who are having influence on me.

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I have a crazy large collection of magazines…lots of really old ones too.  I have files of magazine pages I’ve torn out over the years. The pages are of things I want to recreate or things that inspire me. I was going through an old copy of Martha Stewart KIDS and found a tutorial for felt fortune cookies. There was once a time that to find great tutorials, you had to purchase magazines or books…they weren’t found by a simple online search. Of course, now that tutorial is online. You can find it by clicking here. On Valentine’s Day morning there were 6 fortune cookies waiting for my hubby and kids (I’ll save Little One’s). If I had not found that tutorial, I probably would not have taken the time to think up something so cute. I’m thankful for women like Martha (and her team) that make creativity accessible and easy.
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I like to create. I like to use my hands. Sometimes I want to create something completely my own. Other times I am drained and just want to follow the creative ideas of others. A couple of weeks ago I found myself at Craft Weekend wanting to paint. However, it was 11:00pm. I was tired and smitten with some Heather Bailey fabric (which I now own 4 yards of!). Instead of creating a painting from scratch, I just wanted to paint again. It had been so long. So I sketched a version of Heather’s fabric and painted it. It reminded me of days in art classes where our instructor had us copy great works of art. I made it for me. Just to paint again. However, after I posted it here I began thinking about this blog and who reads it. Despite, the painting being just for fun, for practice, for me (and sharing a link to the Heather Bailey fabric)….I wonder if I should have shared it here.
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I know all too well that people like to take things they see online and pass them off as their own, intentionally and unintentionally. It made me wonder…would anyone read that post and then find fabric they liked, paint it and then try to sell it as their own design f0r profit? As an artist and blogger, I do think there is a responsibility on my part for how I share creative projects. I would never want something I share to work against an artist or designer. I’m pretty confident Heather Bailey fabric will not be affected negatively by my painting, but I want to always be mindful of those sorts of things. I want to be known as a blogger and artist that respects others.

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When my last project for Design*Sponge went live, a couple of people noted the similarities between my work and that of Katie Daisy. As you all fully know, I am a huge fan of Katie’s work. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her as an artist and a person. My project for D*S was the result of several different versions I worked through with my editor. At the time of creating, Katie’s work never crossed my mind. Though her work was not inspiration for my own, I can see Katie’s influence on my own work. Katie’s prints are all over my home and they welcome me every time I open this blog. Her influence on me as an artist is undeniable and I am grateful for it. All that to say, it truly bothered me that someone might think I was trying to mimic Katie’s work…not because I was offended, but because I would never want to not give credit when due ~ especially when it is another artist I admire and respect so much.
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So, what is the point of sharing all that? I want to create. I want to encourage others to create. I like that things like Pinterest are making creative ideas more accessible to the masses. I think creativity is good for the soul and makes people happy. I’ve seen creativity flourish in friends because of the great resource known as Pinterest. I share tutorials here in hopes that someone might be sparked to get a little creative on their own. I’m not looking to ‘make it big’ in the creative industry (but if Martha ever invites me to her show…well I sure wouldn’t turn her down ) I function better when I can create, whether it is a project that I follow a tutorial, or a project inspired by someone else, or just a random project of my own. I hope those that read my blog would see that creativity isn’t just for ‘artists’ or those that understand the technically correct way to do something. I hope people read this blog and buy a glue gun just to give creativity a try.

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To me, one of the hard parts of creative works and the internet is sometimes I don’t think we always recognize the influence of others. There are times we are so shaped by the creative works and styles of others…that we just don’t even realize it. When I step back and look at how I have changed over the course of the last few years, I can see strong influences from women I’ve grown to love. Rachel has given me a whole new appreciation for flea markets. Dottie Angel has encouraged my excitement over vintage fabric. Julie has caused me to spray paint too many things. Meg has shown me how bold and vintage can flow seamlessly. Ann has taught me not just to notice the daily gifts in my life, but to write them down and give thanks for them. And I could go on and on….
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I am constantly finding inspiration. I find it in magazines. In the homes of my friends. On blogs. On Pinterest. In books. In people. Inspiration is everywhere. As a blogger and artist, I want to be inspired. I want to create. And I want to point others to those I find inspiring. If I find a great tutorial online, I want to point you to it…not pretend it is mine (though the felt cookies would be pretty awesome to pretend I came up with).  I am grateful for all the well written tutorials out there that just let me copy their steps and enjoy making something when I need concrete steps instead of inspiration. And when I am inspired by someone else’s work that leads to my own project, I want to be mindful to give proper credit even for inspiration.

And then on the days that I create something uniquely my own….I want to learn to recognize that even my work has been influenced by others. It is so easy to be influenced by others creatively….and that makes me think more about who I am allowing to influence me…as an artist….as a photographer….as a wife…as a mom…as a friend….

Deep thoughts I’m pondering these days between sweeping the floor and folding laundry. I haven’t gotten too far. I know I want to be continually inspired. I know I want to weed out the things I don’t want influencing me. I know I want to recognize those that do inspire and influence me. I also know I want our dossier to be “logged in” in China today (but that is totally unrelated!)

Deep thoughts with Ashley Ann.

So, I’m just curious…who and what do you find inspiring? Who have you found that is an influence in any area of your life?


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  • Lisa Johnson - You! I’ve been visiting here daily for 4(!) years and soaking up the inspiration. It is a gift! Thank you!

  • Danielle - Inspiration… a tricky word (I am a photographer and am constantly inspired… turning that idea with a spin of your own is so important). Unless we were put into a room without any outside influences how can we not be inspired by others’ work, talent, ideas thoughts & views? I find inspiration everyday… from something one of our children may do to talking to someone previously never met and learning about who they are. Following the buckets of blogs I am currently reading is a morning ritual I now look forward to… I leave those blogs feeling full of energy with a happy heart full of inspiration. We all see life a little differently and that is inspiring indeed.

  • kaytie - i come back to your blog each and everyday just to be inspired – that’s what YOU do for me! :) before i even clicked on your blog to read over my morning coffee today i was having a conversation with myself about creating things inspired by other people vs. my own work. as a newbie blogger i’m excited to share my own creative ideas but honestly i just love making. sometimes i choose to create something wonderful that someone else came up with because it’s just that awesome. where would be if we weren’t soaking in inspiration from our surroundings everyday?

  • Caroline - You are truly inspiring! You manage a house with four kids and can still inspire people you’ve never met (I’m from Louisiana, hello!)!

  • Rachel B. - My grandmother was a great creative force in my life. She taught me (and my mom) how to cook and how to embroidery. She’s been in glory for 25 years, yet she still inspires me :-)
    I also find inspiration from my daily dose of under the sycamore, pinterest and my mommy-group friends.

  • kate b - I think you are inspiring.
    When i was younger i use to draw inspiration from God, nature, friends, photos, experiences (i was a little creative but a bit afraid to show it)
    then life happened
    For many years, I wasn’t inspired, I didn’t create. I was busy being a mom, wife, growing up.
    Now im 35 and i have openly admitted that i am not a super crafty, inspiring gal BUT i am digging back into myself..finding who i am again. Its a work in progress and most (almost all) of my ideas are coming from pinterest. I am creating more with my kids and carving a space for creativity.
    I really appreciate bloggers who put out inspiring blogs and helping us a little less creative to dig in.Thanks!

  • Debbie - Ashley, I love reading your “deep thoughts”. :) I think that anyone creative is influenced and inspired by someone or something a lot of the time, it’s rare to completely come up with something that hasn’t been done in some way. I love reading DIY blogs like you, Centsational Girl, and YHL everyday…not just b/c you are all so creative and I want to make what you make, but because you are always creating, pushing yourself to plan and follow through with a project. I love that you all keep creating, it encourages me to do the same.

  • Vanessa@DesignsbySessa - Man, you just get attacked girlfriend every time I check in on you! This morning I was reading in Acts 23 and I have been reading through the 20ish chapters of Acts and Paul is getting ATTACKED by pretty much EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE he goes. No matter what city he goes to he gets opposition and persecution and the threat to be imprisoned or is imprisoned. Chapter 23, the Pharisees (his own people) plot to kill him. He is in jail with absolutely nothing to do on his own and do you know what God did? He came and stood by him and encouraged him. How cool! v. 11 ‘The following night, the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.”‘

    So Take Courage dear sister that God is using you and your creativity and your blog for His Glory. He has a plan for all of this, even amidst opposition for you to shine for His sake.

    Lots of love to you today!
    Vanessa

  • Lindsay - Where I live in the far suburbs of Chicago there isn’t much art like the kind I love to create. There aren’t many art galleries featuring local artists or stores featuring unique handmade items. I felt alone in my passion for color, patterns, or even bringing nature inside the home. Now that creative blogging has really exploded and pinterest is daily at my fingertips, I’ve finally found artists similar to me. Being inspired by others is what really feeds my desire to create. I’m so thankful that I can be part of this artful experience and even share it with my boys at home so that they will always have that in their childhood. Your blog is part of that inspiration not only in what you create but even what you share just by being a mother daily to your wonderful crew.

  • Molly @ mixedmolly - You have influenced me to get back into my photography. Alisa Burke has influenced me to get back into my art. My friends inspire me to be a better follower of the Lord, wife, and mom. The Bible inspires me to be a Godly woman. I love your posts that dig a little deeper!

  • Elizabeth - I love being creative. I love photography. I have definitely take some of your ideas and used them! Especially feet!! I love seeing how other people have photographed children and using that influence in my own photos!

  • Meagan Jenkins - Ashley,

    Thank you for sharing this! Its a topic that I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have a deep love and some not-so-serious concerns for Pinterest and how we share ideas. This part is what spoke most directly to my heart:

    “I function better when I can create, whether it is a project that I follow a tutorial, or a project inspired by someone else, or just a random project of my own. I hope those that read my blog would see that creativity isn’t just for ‘artists’ or those that understand the technically correct way to do something. I hope people read this blog and buy a glue gun just to give creativity a try.”

    I’m going to post a link to this post if that’s OK with you.

  • Angela A - My online inspirations are some of the same as yours (plus you): Meg, Ann, Dottie Angel. I am also inspired by Allison of Cluck Cluck Sew, Jeni of In Color Order, and Mollie Makes. Outside of that, I’d say John Perkins and his work, nature, and my own kids.

  • Lora - You are definitely and inspiration for me. I want to remember to leave the camera out and capture the moments as they are happening. I want to just be creative and share with my kids how much fun crafts can be. BUT I also find inspiration from my kids. One of my sons wants to learn to knit so together we are going to a knitting night to learn how to knit. I love that inspiration can come from everywhere if you just accept that it’s there! :)

  • lindsey - I worry about this same thing so often. But then I realize – none of us are the original for ANYTHING. God is the only artist that was only inspired by his own thoughts. The rest of us are inspired based on what God has designed with His hand and through His people. That may seem a little “over-spiritual” for the morning, but it’s what i’ve really wrapped my head around when it comes to worry over someone thinking that I’m mimicking someone else’s work. I don’t ever try to copy something exactly, but I do often try to create my own version of many creations that I see. But I’m sure someone else out there has probably already done my version as well! There are so many wonderfully creative people in this world that I think we can never believe we are an original.

    All that being said, I’m greatly inspired by your blog and you as a person. Your creativity and heart are inspiration for my soul daily! I also get inspired from reading Country Living Magazine, from the farm fields close to my house, from my daughter’s wild personality, from anytime I walk in Anthropologie, from other photographers.

  • Pamelotta - I think my biggest inspiration is you right now. Don’t freak out, though, it’s a healthy obsession. ;) Last year, (when I turned 40) I realized that I didn’t know myself well enough to even pick out a new paint color for my living room. I realized that in order for me to identify my style, I needed to see lots of other styles and whittle it down. You ended up getting the rose, so to speak. ;) I identify with your style more closely than anyone else and use it to help me shape my own. I am all for giving credit where credit is due, but I think we sometimes go overboard with it. I’m not going to open an etsy shop filled with things I’ve ripped off of other bloggers, but I most probably will take an idea and rip it off for my own house because I’m cheap that way. If I blog about it, though, I’ll give credit. When I saw that Katie Daisy comment on D*S, I cringed a little. There’s credit that needs to be given for new and original ideas and then there’s wanting to give credit when something reminds us of something else. I guess I just thought it was silly to point out that you arranged your flowers in a certain way that you know who does it. Why don’t we just go all the way back to the original source and credit God for the awesome flowers!
    I think you’re fine. You always seem to be very mindful of others and their ideas and credit and so forth. There may be a lot of idea stealing going on around the internet, but you’re not the one doing it.

  • Abigail C - This was a good post :-) This blog is one of my favorite places on the internet. I find inspiration all sorts of places. Books, movies, people, animals, blogs, the outdoors, peculiar situations, frustrating things…not that frustrating things are always inspiring! But later they sometimes make a good story.

  • Sarah-fortheloveofnaps - I love your blog. I am not a crafter but man, you inspire me to give it a try. I love seeing all your photography too. I follow a Canadian artist’s blog and she has this thing going on that looks like it would be right up your alley. You should check it out. it is all about linking up and giving people credit and not stealing art etc. It is really neat. Just thought I would throw it out to you in case it is something you haven’t heard yet.

    http://linkwithlove.typepad.com/linkwithlove/

    her blog is http://lovelife.typepad.com/my_weblog/

  • Carrie - The Proverbs. Our pastor challenged us to read one chapter a day coordinating with the date – as there are 31 chapters. I am constantly surprised how influential these proverbs have become on my own life and the lives of my children. :) I LOVE this influence! It is so simple – can’t believe I haven’t done this before.

  • Kim - Everyone is inspired by something. Be it something someone has created, or something in nature. And, alas, there are always going to be unscrupulous people out there. As you well know, you cannot control others. Only what you yourself do. As long as you are taking the path you know to be true, don’t stress. You’re doing great!

  • Hannah - Excellent post! This is something I think about all the time and I find I get down on myself a lot because I feel like the ideas I have are always birthed somewhere else outside of myself. Like there’s something that subconsciously influenced me and I can never claim something as my own. I recently did a project where I feel is completely and unmistakably my own, that I didn’t find online or pinterest, that I came up with out of the blue and completed. It was so refreshing. As an exercise for my creativity I like to do what I call, “speed crafting.” Where I give myself a time limit and use the tools and supplies I already have to come up with something out of the blue. It’s a great challenge that really stretches me. Sometimes it turns out great sometimes it doesn’t. And that’s okay, because at least I was creating.

    And who and what do I find inspiring? In the blogging world…Well, YOU, of course. I also find a great story or plot inspiring…when I’m watching a movie or television show that I really connect with, that inspires me. I also love the gratification of an inspired collaboration with other artists. The feeling of working on your own then coming together as a team to help each other’s ideas come to fruition – There’s such an accomplished feeling when you complete a project with other artists that you completely meshed with through the whole process.

  • natalie - There really is nothing new under the sun! My best friend is a great artist, and she gets discouraged by Pinterest because she fears so few of her new ideas will ever be original. I’m not a very original person, so I LOVE pinterest- and you are always great at giving credit where it is due. At least the false accusations are unfounded, eh? Water off a duck’s back, Ashley!

  • Jacci in Ohio - Well, you! :) And all the other resources you’ve listed. Etsy, too. And memories from childhood… my own and my husband’s. Nature. And Meg inspires the daylights out of me. But I have to be careful because her style and my style aren’t the same. There are some shared components, but she’s a lot more funky, chippy, and – like you said – bold than my personal style is. I have to be mindful to take *inspiration* like her blog/photos/projects and not let it have too much direct influence… although, I do now own a gumball machine and have the “bird with a french fry” print hanging in my kitchen thanks to her :) I really have to consciously think through how inspiration from such a variety of sources (and I love something about nearly every ‘style’) translate to our home… to keep it “us” and not just a hodge podge of other people.

    Liked the post a lot :)

  • tracy a - thanks for this one ashley! i wish i was a person who could create something completely on my own, but i can’t seem to do that. that being said, i need the creative genius of others to help me along….you’re totally right about giving credit to others when credit is due! thanks for being a solid source of inspiration for me!

  • Jess - I like this post! It’s nice to hear your thoughts on this because I definitely find you to be a huge creative inspiration for photographing my girls… I’m still a major ‘fail’ at the crafty side of things! My mom used to drag me to thrift stores and flea markets when I was young and I haven’t gained an appreciation for it until now – now you can’t keep me away! Thanks for your thoughts. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  • Julie Thacker - For me my first inspiration was Ansel Adams. I remember being 12 and sitting in the floor of our local library going page by page looking at his images. I was so inspired and I knew that photography was my calling – my passion. I could never afford one of his prints but every year I would purchase a calendar and have those prints framed. My college dorm was covered in Ansel Adams images. Not cool? Maybe. But I didn’t care. Today his work still inspires me. He inspires me to be technically correct and not to rely on photoshop. He inspires me to go to new heights and think outside the box.

  • Jenni - Um.. you!:) Am I like the 100th person to say that? Probably, but it’s true. I stumbled onto your blog because of your little ruffled bib onsie tutorial and it was love at first site. I love your honesty about life and parenting and when I read your posts you always inspire me to be better. Your sort of like my Martha Stewart and Diane Sawyer all wrapped up in one:) lol Your taught me how to do bleach t-shirts and think about how fortunate I am that my family has something as simple as water. I mean really who can top that?:)

  • Heather - I think I enjoyed reading some of the other’s comments almost as much as your post. I agree with so much of what was said. You are definitely an inspiration in so many ways. You bless me.

  • sarah - I think now everyone is so quick to want recognition or money or whatever off of things they make. For years people have been influenced by others who ‘make’. Some influence is visible and others are felt. I wish people would understand that this is flattery, and a process. That influence is almost worth more than money or hitting the bigs with Martha. It’s knowing you actually touched someone with your work. Isn’t that the point?
    I thought it was so odd that so many of my art classes had projects based off of other peoples work. Then I realized it was more of an exploration of self and a way to expose people to what has proven to be great.
    I love that you share your process, influences and inspirations. I’ve never once felt as if you were even remotely the ‘type’ of person to try and pass off either one as your own.

  • Stefanie e - I ran across this quote from Jim Jarmusch the other day and thought of it immediately after reading your thoughts…”Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak to directly to your soul. If you do this, your work {and theft} will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality in non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery-celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from-it’s where you take them to.” I just love this quote and I love what Lindsey said about God being the only original artist. Thanks for being one of my favorite inspiring people.

  • Laurie - I’ve been reading your blog forever (one of 3 that I allow myself on a daily basis). I rarely comment, but can’t resist on this subject.

    I’ve always been very aware of the parts of myself that I’ve gotten from others. Obviously there are the traits that come from my parents, genetically. But then there are the little bits of me that I have “stolen” from others. In every person I meet and get to know, even slightly, there is at least one thing about them that I’m fond of enough to incorporate into my own life. Something about their style, outlook on life, the way they relate to others, etc. I see it as the ultimate compliment. And I teach it to my kids – the idea that even in someone that you really don’t like, you can always find something to be inspired by. It’s sort of a “paper trail” of the people that you have come in contact with throughout your live, even if only over the internet :-)

    I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from you, the most obvious being your talent for photography. I took your list of cameras and lenses with me when I bought my latest camera. And I’m so thrilled with what I got. Taking good pictures is finally as easy to understand as I always thought it should be. So thank you, Ashley.

  • Jane Marie - Oh yes, definitely you! And Dottie Angel b/c I love the look of her rainboots and her vintage fabrics. I don my rainboots all the time now, and I imagine myself trotting around and “tending” to things. ;-) The book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” is a huge inspiration for my life in general. But really I think you/your blog have been one of the most inspiring to me as well. I sure hope I don’t offend or devalue in any way when I make or do things that were inspired by others. Pinterest and the web in general are amazing tools, though they might end up stifling our creativity at times. I like what one reader, Hannah, posted…about how she likes to do “speed crafting” to help her stay truly creative. I think I should try that too! ;-) Love your posts. And, seriously, the shoe repair yesterday? Genius!

  • julia - My husband and I talk about this (he is a designer too) nothing is really a brand new idea. Lately I’ve found myself almost always saying on a diy project “inspired by ___” through pinterest. And I think thats ok. I don’t align myself with just 1 persons style. And I’m not an art history buff, but weren’t there art time periods (impressionism, ect)

  • Ann Voskamp - Here. You. His Light in You.
    Here inspires me — the authenticity and the realness. The zest and the humility and the joy. The grace falling everywhere.

    You are a gift to me, everyday, and I throw my hands to the heavens and murmur my thanks.

    More love than thin letters can hold, friend,
    All’s grace,
    Ann

  • Melissa - as a new blogger I have been thinking about this, too! I am inspired by great blogs (like yours!) and I love collecting ideas on pinterest. I would love to have a beautiful blog full of great ideas-but I’ve already seen that trying to do something “new” could hold me back! I don’t want this to happen because my toddler daughter doesn’t need a new brilliant finger paint recipe or idea-she just needs finger paint! I will be selling her short if I don’t do something fun for her because I want to put my own spin on it before I can blog about it! Thanks for sharing things you have done (like the fortune cookies and painting) and showing how it can be done responsibly. :)

  • Jodi - YOU! YOU! YOU! You are my go to inspiration. I have to sometimes steer clear of this blog because I am so heavily inspired by YOU! I always make sure to link up to you and am PROUD to do so. You are an amazing artist. I would never have even thought of Katie when I saw your DS post (and I LOVE her too, because of you). You are thoughtful, you are original, you are unique. But most of all you are INSPIRING!

  • Crystal - great post and explanation! It all totally makes sense. I didn’t read the comments to see if anyone else said anything similar, but this is what I’ve actually been thinking lately…pinterest has indeed been a great inspiration board and definitely helps me in many ways. Yet, I found myself always looking for inspiration or ideas when I had a project in mind instead of just searching my own brain. Finally, it was like the Lord was telling me that HE is the most creative. He is the ultimate creator. Not that I can’t look to others, but I decided to just back off a little and just pray for more creativity for myself…to maybe seek that first…..in every little area…in projects, in organizing, in ordering my days at home, just everything. I’ve been amazed at His faithfulness in the little details I wouldn’t have originally trusted Him with! I love to be influenced and inspired by others {in good ways, of course!}, but I also wanted my projects to have my own flair. I don’t know if this makes much sense, but the point is that I think God cares about all these little details and we have more in ourselves than we often realize. Don’t get me wrong though! I am quite often inspired by others, too…I do visit your blog every day and have been directed through here to others who inspire me as well…Dottie Angel, Ann Voskamp {LOVING the book and it’s changing my life thanks to seeing it here!} and many others. Sorry for writing so much! :) great post!

  • Joy - ashley… I’ve been thinking about the same stuff lately. There’s one blogger/artist I love, but I am seeing her work copied everywhere. And those ‘copies’ are getting published, and it’s…ugh. Makes me sick to my stomach. And half the reason this is so is because that blogger was so sweet in her early years, sharing what she was learning, techniques, etc. And- I don’t know where I fall on it- I mean, the copies are such blatant steals that you can’t miss who ‘really’ inspired it, and maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if they’d say in the style of ‘so and so’…but they don’t. And they are so close to the original artist and style that it is hard to miss. But the stuff you do- I love how it’s fresh and very, very you! I think on that line you always fall to the inspired side and not the ‘copying’ side. And you go out of your way to make sure the people get credit…I’m making a new line of things for my shop, and I’ve honestly turned everything off. Blogs, pinterest, etc. on that purpose that, hopefully, I’m veering to inspired and not copying anyone else. I’m sure they’ll have some influences, but I’m dearly hoping that I am not encroaching on another artist, because I’d be so hurt if it happened to me. I guess it’s just the golden rule for creatives huh?

  • Kristin S - Love, love, love deep thoughts with Ashley Ann. :-)

  • maggie - Refreshing post Ashley. Heart felt and again very open & honest. I understand and ponder all that you wrote way too often. Sharing is an amazing thing to do…I do it as well…inspiring others & being inspired is a really a wonderful thing but can get “interesting” sometimes draining. I am always wanting to be “authentic”, to find my own niche but the problem with that is that I love old things, vintage things, things a million other people like too…things that have been done already! and well it seems everyone is a photographer today, where as when I started at 13, nobody was taking pictures… art is to be shared & yes, give credit when due, but make it your own, that is how I feel. Stay true to yourself. I feel you do that~ and you share it, where many artists do not. I never thought I could be an artist because I thought that was for “other” people and i was not encouraged. I had an aunt who was a “famous painter, she never shared. I found my own way, followed my heart. I am actually inspired by nice people, warm authentic smiles, nature, colors, and children who are most vulnerable. Many things inspire me. I remember you inspired me as a gymnast. You never ever gave up & worked hard. I always connected with you in a special way. ~ you have grown into a lovely woman. <3

  • Cloie - I started reading your blog several months ago and you inspired me to start a blog of my own. My tag line is Taking on craft projects one Pinterst pin at a time……
    I find a lot of inspiration in what I find on Pinterest, and I am always good about making sure that I follow the links back to the original blogger, and give credit where credit is due. I wouldn’t want someone passing off my ideas as their own, and I dont want to do it to others.
    And you are a major inspiration to me. Not only as a crafter, but also as a Christian, a mom, and a person in general. I like that you post about things in your life, things God has given you, and that you cherish those things and people everyday, and that you are sweet enough to post about this so others can read. I know that it isnt your intention to make others think you have a perfect life (as another mom of 4 I know there are fights and messes and discipline that happen) but you don’t hide the good or the bad. ANd you don’t dwell on the bad. You live each day for God and your family, and deal with the “bad” things that happen.

  • heather - So interesting that I just read this post! I think you would love to watch all four of these short videos that I just happened to watch earlier today: http://vimeo.com/14912890
    My favorite word right now is “ubuntu” (def here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_(philosophy))
    and this is what I say along with “thank you” when people praise my creativity. After watching the above videos, the philosophy of “ubunto” is even more solidified in my mind! As human beings we are all influenced by those that come before us whether some can pin point that or not. Sometimes it’s hard to think – am I creating my own work, or am I just creating something that I’ve seen before, but don’t remember? But, then sometimes it doesn’t matter, it should feel good to create, but not get to “big” about it knowing that we were definitely influenced by another idea to get us to that point! If we try and create beauty and love, then the influence to others will be even bigger and better…and the world will just keep getting better because of it:) Thank you for sharing today!

  • RaD - Who, huh? Well… you! From seeing some of your more “eclectic” ways of decorating it makes me feel like I can pretty much do anything I want and not worry about it. I’m learning not to do that you know, worry about what others think. Not that I don’t love your decorating, I do. But it’s unique and it’s really sparked some creativity of my own I wouldn’t have honed in on. I don’t shop flea markets or thrift stores or yard sales much, but I do peruse craigslist free ads each and every day and have scored some great stuff.

    I don’t know I guess I just found your style of decorating and creating so freeing. I’m not much of an artist, really I am not, but I have stopped being so hard on everything being so perfect and it’s been awesome. Thanks!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I find YOU inspiring. You have been my long distance magazine of joy and faith through my journey to the desert.

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - I have this overwhelming need to say “true ‘dat sister!” I think those that have a need to create can totally identify with being inspired by others. I think some just don’t get it. I think, sometimes, who cares who gets it and who doesn’t it. As long as we stick with integrity, and give credit when and where it’s do…let’s just live, create, inspire, help, encourage and love! You are on a long and mighty list of inspiring women. Keep on Sister!

  • Mindy Harris - fantastic post, friend. you put together so eloquently what is constantly on my heart in relation to creativity. it is such an essential part of my life and person and the older i get (almost 31) the more i embrace that part of myself. you said it perfectly when you stated you hope people read your blog and buy a glue gun “just to give creativity a try.”
    i am praying that the Lord will give me a ministry in that very pursuit! i have a heart for women’s ministry and a heart for creativity. my heart soars when i see someone use a hot glue gun for the first time.
    love your blog. it’s a daily read.

  • Mindy Harris - ANN VOSKAMP commented????!!!
    i just noticed.
    that took my breath away.
    so neat.

  • Lessons Learned & Remembered » Then Heather Said - [...] Jenna. from Rachel. from Miz. [<-that's the post that inspired me to adopt #2] from Tracy. from Ashley Ann. from Katie. More from Katie. and even more from Katie. [I really love what she's doing over there, [...]

  • Liene - Great post! I bought a glue gun when I read your post, so … ;-) Painters inspire me, prints on posters, cards, ceramics and so on inspire me. Reading blogs and interest inspire me everyday. Today my creative inspiration was: http://ing-things.blogspot.com/2011/12/diy-paper-balloons-or-x-mas-balls.html. Have a fun weekend.

  • karen eyink - I believe that ideas are like children, they come through you but they do not belong to you. (like that read Khalil Gibrans quotes on children). To create, to be artist is to send forth ideas and beauty otherwise it is a really selfish pursuit. We are a web all connected.Because someone paints a tree does that mean he is ripping of nature, inspiration is all around. Do you know that Ben Franklin took the idea for an almanac from someone else and publish in his almanac that the other man was dead, when he wasn’t. I have been thinking of this exact topic over the last week. Your thoughts are poignant. thanks for your inspiration and your shining a light on others so I can be inspired by them also.

  • Amy - Beautifully written. Beautiful. Interestingly enough, I found your blog & Heather Bailey’s blog around the same time. Love, love, love her fabrics. (At Craft Weekend I saw her fabric in Meg’s bin & snatched it first! I couldn’t help myself! My Southern manners flew out the window once I laid my eyes on it. Ha!!) I’m so inspired by your blog, & especially your humility. :) I saw something the other day that said, Could you live without the Internet? I thought, yes I could. But I don’t want to!! Ha!

  • Art Friday: Thinking it through… | Memoria.Arts - [...] Anne’s On Inspiration, Influence, & Creating- Ashley addressed something that I think all creatives who operate online have thought at one time [...]

  • Asha - I’m inspired by Maggie Holmes. I think she has an amazing eye for color. She has inspired me to not be afraid of color: in your wardrobe, decorating your home & in crafting. I don’t strive to copy and sell things, I create for my own enjoyment.

  • Taylor - I am so glad you posted about this topic. I often worry about unintentionally copying someones work in the things I make or create. It is hard with so much out there online these days to not accidently copy someone elses creativity. Honestly, reading your blog has inspired me a lot lately. You actually inspired me to start my etsy shop. I have always wanted to make and find things to sell and I finally did it. I used to be very ocd in my home and very concerned about everything always being in its place. I’ve come to realize its ok to have pictures scattered all over my fridge because its a reflection of those I love. And it’s ok to have stuffed animals around the house because it shows my two little dogs are happy. You’ve inspired me to look at things differently and appriciate the small stuff! I am so happy you write this blog Ashley! I know you have inspired so many people in so many great ways! Thank you :)

  • Likely - I have never commented, but am a long time fan. I also have three boys and mine remind me so much of yours. i love boys. I had to comment today to share a video with you that I think you will love as an artist and a christian. I heard the talk a few years ago and it brought me to tears. This is just a few excerpts, but it is really touching. I hope you enjoy it miss ashley ann. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhLlnq5yY7k

  • pieceLove - My Ninja Sewing Master just told me about your blog today. I had never heard of it; I like it. I don’t get out much, so to speak. I’ve thought about all this inspiration stuff too. Ultimately, we truly are the sum of our parts. As are those we admire and who came before. Is anyone truly, truly, creative? Like, can a human actually create? Is any one person an originator? I don’t think so. I think every good and perfect and beautiful thing and idea is from God. We just discover stuff, show stuff off, find new expressive compounds.
    Or something like that.

  • Lena - Really interesting thoughts. I think that selfishly I take more credit for my creativity than what I deserve. Not on my blog, not with my friends, not even with my husband [credit is given where credit is due], but just with myself. Sometimes I think I allow my selfishness to result in my own pride in the projects I’ve created, but really I should be humbled by them. By the fact that we’ve been provided such a valuable channel to share and inspire … and that I have the means to be a part of it all. And what’s most beautiful about this? That God can even use my gift of creativity [even if it is small] and inspiration from others that I selfishly allow to creep into personal pride instead of humility to remind me that I’m in desperate need of the Gospel.

  • Karen - I find much of my inspiration from blogs and others’ art. Might mine be similar == sometimes I bet. Seems that if your taste is similar, your art might be also. I’m SO grateful to bloggers like you and some others. Without you, I don’t know if I would have found my motivation to do things that bring me more joy than I can say.

  • JEnni - I loved this post… it is certainly a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. And, I feel that your Valentine- although it might have shown your influences- was uniquely Ashley Ann. Also, I had never even heard of the fabric designer until you posted about your painting and her fabric. Thanks for turning me onto a new favorite designer!

  • twirling betty - I think anyone that follows your blog would know that you would no sooner copy another designer’s work than fly to the moon. In a teapot. And back.

  • Sarah - Thank you for this post. Soooooo much. I have had issues with this before, Lost a friendship because of it, and I still think about it every day with a good amount of sadness. I was new in the blogging world and I didn’t pay close enough attention to influence, inspiration, and credit, and learned some valuable lessons. I think what you do is beautiful and I thank you for your honesty. This hit close to home.

  • Carrie R - LOVE this post! I LOVE getting inspiration from all over (books, blogs, magazines)! This post actually inspired me to get some more MS Kids magazines, ha!

  • Honey Bee Mama - you know what i gain from this is the “okay-ness” of being inspired by others. i like to think i’m creative, but often so many of the things i do are ideas that were shared with me from others. the joy i’ve found is having freedom in sharing the inspiration of others, instead of feeling lame or guilty for not coming up with the ideas myself. i love being able to share the same ideas with others, “oh i found the cutest kids activity on xyz website. you’ve got to try it; we had so much fun!” but i appreciate your bringing up the point of us taking credit for another person’s work. and that is a good admonishment for me as i am often looking at different tutorials and studying baby carriers i run across and tweaking and rethinking my own patterns that i sell. i too, must make sure i’m making something original when i make it to sell. good stuff!

  • Katie - Ashley,
    Thank you for such a great post! I found a lot of my thoughts echoed in your writing…I’m constantly thinking about inspiration, influence, etc…how are people inspired and why? I often write on this topic on my blog, here’s a post that I wrote last summer if you or anyone else is intersted: http://kboehnlein.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/everyday-inspiration/

    I’m often inspired by Nature…there is something about it that calls to artisitcally-minded people- to draw, paint, sculpt, write, photograph. And the best thing about it, is that it is the kind of source that won’t get mad if you “copy” it. Rather, people will praise you for portraying the landscape in sucha unique, realistic, convincing, beautiful (etc.) way!

    Thank you for making us think :)

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