7 Creative Sources that Inject Inspiration

You are most likely looking at this headline, thinking of clicking on it – what inspired you to have that idea? And now it’s likely that you’ve clicked on it and this article is presented before you – what inspired you to do so?

Questions I have been commonly asked are ones such as:
“Where do you get your drawing/writing style from?”, “What do you communicate with your writing?” or “What got you into writing and drawing?”. Since these are questions I don’t think of myself, each of them yield many answers.

I think the artistic side of me came alive from the many activities, travels, and endeavors that I’ve made throughout the years. These have, indeed, given me inspiration for the stories and illustrations that I’m currently working on and will, hopefully, give you, who may be an artist, writer, or creative of any kind, the same. Here are 7 creative sources (in no particular order) that I think will give you an injection of inspiration.

1. Media that reflects reality…quite accurately.

An inking of the 2018 New Year’s promo of a graphic novel I’m currently working on. It’s been colored in since then and currently resting on my office wall in Houston.

You will most likely know that this is a running trope that can be used well in your stories or art, where your writings happen to reflect the positives or negatives of reality. Whether it be about how society is today compared to, say, how it was back in the early 20th Century, or about how late-stage Capitalism is changing the mentality of friendships today.

Both at societal and personal levels, my writing is based-off a couple of things:

  • Media that reflects experience: An example would be John Carpenter’s 1988 film ‘They Live’, which reflected on consumerism playing on the minds of normal folk. And Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel ‘Starship Troopers’, which tackled the issues of adolescent delinquency and cowardice – an accurate representation of the world today.
  • Experience that reflects the media: This is coming up in the second source but, day-to-day life with friends, or adventures across the world can be reflected in great ways, both positively and negatively.

2. The People You Interact With: Friends or Enemies?

Above is an old, late-2017 sketch of the main characters of my graphic novel, partially inspired by people I’ve encountered throughout my travels.

Ian Fleming, back in the 1950’s, was heavily inspired not just by his travels across the world, but also by the people he encountered. Most notably, he was influenced by a man named Erno Goldfinger, a Hungarian-English Architect whom Fleming actually disliked. Goldfinger’s easy temperament and name might have been the basis to Fleming titling his 1959 James Bond novel as ‘Goldfinger’. This, for obvious reasons, didn’t sit well with Goldfinger who threatened Fleming with a lawsuit, to which Fleming counterattacked with another threat – he would name the novel Goldprick instead!

Throughout this decade, there are all kinds of people that I have gotten to talk to and learn about, and some of them have grown to be the basis to the characters I’m writing to feature in my comics. From characters having an altruistic, selfless personality to having ulterior motives to seek power.

3. Environments Unexplored!

Pictured above is a doodled concept of an abandoned gourmet café that, sometime in the near future, will be turned into a makeshift weapons depot. The place is inspired by a popular Houston-based café that I often hang out at, while in Texas.

I’m writing this part with a visionary in mind – someone who draws landscapes, environments, and other places. At the same time, I’m writing this with the idea that the visionary travels as well, and whatever environments he or she encounters will influence the worlds and settings being designed.

I want to bring up my travels as an example: there are a couple of key places that have influenced the worlds I’m illustrating at the moment. One is St. Petersburg, Russia, with their diverse architecture of the mid-18th Century (designs from Italian and German contractors) that makes for a strong traditionalist setting. The second is the landscape of a snowboarding resort in Loveland, Colorado, with a rocky, canyon-like layout that could make for a snowy, alien-like world.

4. History, the Beholder of Dopamine.

This is perhaps my own vague way of saying that nostalgia sells (and it can sell strongly, given the time period). And I would go as far as saying that history itself can be a great inspirational source.

For me, history inspires me to think of what could have been different. And this is where we dive into the category of alternate history. English writer Kingsley Aimis did a 1976 book entitled The Alteration, which took place in Europe around the same time. The difference was that the Protestant Reformation 400 years earlier did not occur, hence Europe, in the 20th Century, is still widely Catholic, with Martin Luther having become Pope as opposed to writing his thesis’s.

5. The Lesser Known Can Make a Great Impact

Above is an unfinished oil sketch of mine of the Ancient Greek legend Ulysses, heavily inspired by the one from Jean Chalopin & Nina Wolmark’s French-Japanese series Ulysse 31, perhaps a not-so-well-known series today.

Some of the most well-known artists, film makers, and other creatives have often mentioned about sources of inspiration that is not well known in the mainstream, or at least not commonly known.

Metallica have long been mentioning how the British heavy metal band Diamond Head have been a great inspiration on their music, leading most fans to go discover their other bands of inspiration such as Venom and Angel Witch. I could write about what inspires my art here, as there are is a lot, but that’s a list requiring to take up a large scroll of the page.

6. “Musically speaking, it’s Picture Perfect.”

It’s a pun I’ve made up. You might read it again, someday, in my comic endeavors.

2014 struck me with the crushing sound of cynicism, as conducted by Swiss metal band Triptykon. Their new album Melana Chasmata had come out and the artwork by the iconic H. R. Giger made sure it connected with the music in one resonating fashion. That moment was when I learned that good art can make a good soundtrack. Or rather, good art can inspire you to make music that is based on it, and vice versa. Any soundtrack or album I put on Spotify is most likely to make me sketch or create something based on it.

I was greatly inspired by the soundtrack to the 2018 video game Dusk, composed by Andrew Hulshult. I felt as if this poster I’ve done (pictured above) would reflect music as powerful as what Hulshult can provide. On a side note, expect further delays for Exulansis – volume 1 may come next year.

7. Dead Simplicity

Dead Simplicity’s based off the title for a Doom level, “Dead Simple.”

Sometimes, for a writer, you just want to take it easy – no need to overthink what you’re coming up with. Of course, this is where a break comes in, and you relax by experiencing something easy, with a plot that requires no use of mental gymnastics of any kind. And maybe, just maybe, that itself may be creative fuel.

Doom was a 1993 game by id Software that contained a simple premise that you were immediately thrown into: demons have taken over Mars’s moon Phobos, go get a gun and clear them out, whether that means going to Hell and back. Twenty-three years later would see the game being rebooted in an example of easiness meeting with complexity, as the design for the environments, enemies, and lore receives an iconic makeover.

Once you take it easy in creativity, you can make ‘big’ easy, at least in terms of… not overthinking or becoming overly conscious about how you wish for your creative project to be done.

Khalid is based back and forth between Abu-Dhabi and Houston, Texas. He writes, illustrates and designs for Abu-Dhabi based agency Brand Moxie and its web publication FeelYourTempo. Aside from working, Khalid writes and illustrates comics, sometimes under the pen name "Colin Henry," and he currently has a graphic novel coming up entitled "Exulansis," anticipated for a 2020 completion. Khalid's artwork can be found through his Facebook page Axis-Magnus Studios as well as his Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/magnusaxis/