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So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer… Becoming One With What Inspires You

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

“In the beginning, there was the idea.”

The words creativity, inspiration and aspiration are often used interchangeably, and I think it’s important that we draw a clearer distinction.

Creative people don’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is not the source of creativity. Rather, inspiration is the motivated response to the creative impulse. Aspiration, in turn, is the motivated response by the artist to actualize inspiration.

Creativity is “a phenomenon where both something new and, at the same time, somehow valuable is created.”

Inspiration is defined as, “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.”

Aspiration is, “a hope or ambition of achieving something.”

There are many dichotomies. Stimulation versus ambition. Excitement versus action. Idea versus value. And most significantly, external versus internal.

Inspiration is something we seek to ingest from outside. Aspiration is something we cultivate within ourselves.

I have been inspired by an extraordinary number of people over the course of my life. My mentors in college when I was struggling to decide between becoming an archaeologist or a psychologist. In my first job at New Brunswick Tomorrow where I guided a board of health care providers in creating a health plan for the city. In a subsequent job by government officials with a clear vision for health care in Tennessee. Finding inspirations has never been a challenge for me.

But I had never really aspired to be like anyone until I dropped out of the corporate race, and turned to jewelry designing. It had never excited me or got my juices flowing before in the same way. But with jewelry design, I felt I could accomplish these wonderful designs, And, as my aspirations came into fruition, I began to feel that I could shape the field and profession of jewelry design and change the way jewelry makers work in some way. I was filled with aspirations to be heard and to make a difference. The response to my aspirations, from students or people reacting to my written articles, inspired me. If filled me with aspirations, and I had to figure the details out. I had to be very self-directed to continue as a jewelry designer and begin to transform how it is understood as a professional endeavor all its own — apart from craft and apart from art.

INSPIRATION: Becoming One with What Inspires You

Inspirations are sacred revelations you want to share through art and design.

The word inspiration comes from the Latin roots meaning “to breathe into.” But before you can breathe your inspiration into your jewelry, you need to become one with it.

There are these wonderfully exciting, sensually terrific, incredibly fulfilling things that you find as you try to imagine the jewelry you will create. They come from many sources: ideas, nature, images, people, behaviors. They might be realistic or abstract. They may be the particular color or pattern or texture or the way the light hits it and casts a shadow. They may be a need for order over chaos. They may be points of view. They may flow from some inner imagination.

For some reason, these inspirations take on a divine, sacred revelation for you — so meaningful that you want to incorporate them somehow into what you do. A fire in your soul. You want to translate these inspirations into colors, shapes, lines, patterns and textures. You want to impose an organization on them. You want to recapture their energy and power they have had over you. You feel compelled to bring these feelings into ideas, and these ideas into material objects.

There are many challenges to inspiration. That which we call “inspiring” can often be somewhat fuzzy. It might be a feeling. It might be a piece of an idea, or a small spot on an image. You might feel inspired, but, cannot put the What or the Why into words or images. On the surface, it may seem important to you, but unimportant to others. You the artist may not feel in control of the inspiration in that it seems like it is something that is evoked, not necessarily directed, by you.

When inspired, artists perceive new possibilities that transcend that which is ordinary around them. Too often, the artist feels passive in this process. This transcendence does not feel like a willfully generated idea. However, it needs to be.

The successful artist — one who eventually can achieve a level of resonance — is one who is not only inspired by, but also inspired to. This all requires a great deal of metacognitive self-awareness. The artist must be able to perceive the intrinsic value of the inspiring object, and how to extend this value in design, where the piece of jewelry becomes its expression.

Inspiration is motivating. Inspiration is not the source of creativity; creativity does not come from it. Inspiration, instead, should be viewed as a motivational response to creativity. It motivates the artist, through jewelry and its design, to connect this inspiration with others. It serves as a mediator between the self and the anticipated shared understandings of others. The jewelry encapsulates the artist’s ability to make this connection. When the connection is well-made, resonance follows.

But finding inspirations is not only personal, but more importantly, it is an effort to influence others. It is an act of translating the emotions which resonate in you into some object of art which, in turn, will inspire and resonate with others. How does the inspiration occur to you, and how do you anticipate how this inspiration might occur to others?

Too often we lose sight of the importance of inspiration to the authentic performance task of creating jewelry. We operate with the belief that anyone can be inspired by anything. There’s nothing more to it. Moreover, inspiration gets downplayed when put next to the discussion of the effort of making jewelry itself.

But it should not. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities. It allows us to transcend the ordinary, surface experiences. It propels us to design. In transforms how we perceive what we do and what we can do. Inspiration is not something that should be overlooked just because it is somewhat fuzzy and elusive.

Inspiration is not less important than perspiration. It plays an equal role in the creative process. The artist’s clarity about why something is inspiring, and why this inspiration motivates the artist to respond, will be critical for achieving success, that is resonance.

The Core Aspects of Inspiration

In psychology, inspiration is seen to have three key qualities:

– Evocation

– Transcendence, and

– Approach motivation

Evocation. Inspiration is evoked. It feels spontaneous. Unintentional.

Transcendence: Inspiration transcends the ordinary to the noteworthy. It involves a moment of clarity, or at least a bit of clarity, which makes us aware of new possibilities. The moment itself may be vivid, very emotional, even passionate.

Approach motivation: The person strives to transmit, express or actualize their inspiration. The person, for whatever reason, wants to act on that inspiration.

Inspired people are more open to experience. They are not necessarily conscience about it. It just happens. It isn’t willed. Inspired people appear to be more self-directed. They want to master their work. They do not consider inspiration a competitive sport, at least most don’t. Inspired people focus on the subjective, intrinsic value of an object, not its external, objective worth.

Where Do You Find Inspirations?

Inspirations matter a lot. This may cause you to feel pressure to become inspired and find new topics and projects to work on, and feel helpless when you can’t. But remember, inspirations cannot be willed. They are more spontaneous and transcendent. This does not mean, however, that inspiration is completely out of your control. If you put yourself in situations where you are more likely to find inspiration, you will find inspirations. You always need to be working towards finding it.

1. Look Around You

Notice something different. Focus on something and ask yourself why it exists, in the form that it is in, in the place your find it, in the uses you put to it. What if it wasn’t there? What if it was different? When was the last time you used it? Could something else substitute for it? In your workspace, surround yourself with inspiring images.

2. Go For A Walk
 Try to find the things you don’t often see or focus on. Try to declutter your mind, and fill it with new observations. Walk the same path at different times during the day, or when the weather changes. Find other pathways you think are similar or different and walk those, evaluating the similarities or differences.

3. Meet New People

Surround yourself with other inspiring and creative people. Go out of your way to meet them. Talk. Discuss. Dialog. Share an experience. Collaborate. Show genuine interest in what they do, how they do, why they do.

4. Get Lost

Take a wrong turn on the highway. Visit a place you have never been to before. Take it all in. What are your thoughts? Feelings? Emotions? Are you excited, scared, bored, in wonder?

5. Read or Watch Something New and Inspirational

The internet provides all kinds of resources to lose yourself in. Visit a museum. Change the channel on the TV. Check out a bookstore. But deviate from the same-ole, same-ole.

6. Change Your Routine

If you have a schedule, deviate from it. If you are a morning person, try being a night person for a few days. If you like to think and work in one setting, change the setting.

7. Learn Something New

Take a class. Do a tutorial. Try a different technique. Use different materials. Try something you are not good at.

How Does Inspiration Relate To Design?

Jewelry design is an extended process. Some of the process is planned, and some of it is spontaneous. At the beginning of the process we have Inspiration. We make choices, then question our choices, relating inspiration to aspirations to designs. We are critical, in a positive sense, and slowly maintain our attention and work through what is a more extended design process.

What is most important here is that you learn, not only to inspire others by, but how to inspire others to. That is, you want to learn how to translate an inspiration into a design in such a way that the wearer and the viewer are inspired to emotionally connect with the pieces as if they were following and identifying with your own thoughts and feelings.

They don’t simply react emotionally by saying the piece is “beautiful.” The piece conveys more power than that. It resonates for them. They react by saying they “want to touch it“ or want to wear it” or “want to buy it” or “want to make something like it”. They come to feel and see and sense the artist’s hand.

What Is Aspiration?

Aspiration is the motivational basis for wanting to translate your inspiration into a design. To aspire is to rise up to a great plan, an abundance of hope and desire. To aspire is to bring others into this plan, hope and desire. Aspiration is a inspired-related search for possibilities.

There are certain objective aspects to it. The artist is translating the inspiration into concrete concepts, such as color choice, material choice, and the choices of techniques and composition. The concepts are goal-oriented and have universally shared meanings. They are reasonable.

And there are certain subjective aspects to it. It is the artist who wants the thing, and finds pleasure in all this. It is the artist who wants others to experience the emotional content of the inspirations as the artist does. These subjective aspects are rationale.

ASPIRATION: Translating Creativity into A Technical Product Design

Aspiration motivates the artist to actualize inspiration.

Aspiration is where the artist translates inspiration into an expressive design concept. The artist begins to control and regulate what happens next. This involves selecting Design Elements[1] and clustering them to formulate meaningful expressions. The greater value the artist places on resonance, the stronger the aspiration will be to achieve it.

Aspiration is future-oriented. It requires a stick-to-it-ness. The artist must be sufficiently motivated to invest the time, energy and money into designing and making the jewelry that will not necessarily be finished, displayed or sold right away. It may require some additional learning and skills-development time. The artist may need to find a level of creativity within, and discover the kinds of skills, techniques and insights necessary for bringing this creativity to the aspired task at hand.

Aspiration requires the calculus: Is it worth it? It adds a level of risk to the project. It forces the artist to pay attention to the world around her or him. This world presents dynamic clues — what I discuss below as shared understandings — about opportunities, constraints, risks, contingencies, consequences, strategies and goals, and likely successes.

For some artists, motivation primarily is seen as instinctual. Think of seat-of-the-pants. Emergent, not controlled. A search for harmony, balance, rhythm, unity as something that feels right and looks right and seems right with the universe. Expressive, yes. Imaginative, yes. But not necessarily resonant.

Achieving resonance, however, is, for the most part, more than instinctual. It has some deliberate quality to it. It is communicative. It requires a purposeful act on the part of the artist. It is a different type of motivation — intentional. The artist might want to convey a specific emotion. Or advocate for some change. Or illustrate a point of view. The artist may want to entertain or teach. Heal. Attract mates. Propagandize. Where a jewelry’s design is not reflective of an artist’s intent, there can be no resonance.

What Is The Relationship of Aspiration to Resonance?

We achieve Resonance by gaining a comfort and ease in communicating about design. This comfort and ease, or disciplinary fluency, has to do with how we translate our inspirations and aspirations into all our compositional, constructive and manipulative choices. It is empowering. Our pieces resonate. We achieve success.

Resonance, communication, success, fluency — these are all words that stand in place for an intimacy between the designer and the materials, the designer and the techniques, the designer and inspiration. They reflect the designer’s aspirations. They reflect the shared understandings of everyone the designer’s jewelry is expected to touch. They reflect the designer’s managerial prowess in bringing all these things together.

Anticipating Shared Understandings

Shared understandings dictate opportunities, contingencies and constraints.

The question of whether the audience correctly infers the presence of the artist’s inspiration, and the sense of how the artist’s hand comes into play within the design, remains. The answer revolves around a dynamic interaction between artist and audience, as they anticipate understandings they share, and ones they do not.



CA Griffin Group. The Intersection of Inspiration and Aspiration. Jan 19, 2018.
 As referenced in https://medium.com/@craig_38900/the-intersection-of-aspiration-and-inspiration-23893e250bb3

Hess, Whitney. Inspiration and Aspiration. July 27, 2010.
 As reference in https://whitneyhess.com/blog/2010/07/27/inspiration-and-aspiration/

Kaufman, Scott Barry. Why Inspiration Matters. Harvard Business Review, Nove 8, 2011.

Lamp, Lucy. Inspiration in Visual Art: Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas?
 As reference in https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/inspiration-in-visual-art-where-do-artists-get-the

Metz, John. April 10, 2013. 
 As referenced in https://www.thindifference.com/2013/04/do-you-have-to-aspire-to-inspire/

Sharma, Shashank. Comprehensive Guide To Finding Inspiration For Art: Everything you need to know about finding creative art inspiration, March 31, 2017.
 As referenced in https://blog.dextra.art/https-blog-dextra-xyz-comprehensive-guide-to-finding-inspiration-for-art-c9f2e764a5fc

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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