Where Do Artists Find Inspiration?

One of the biggest questions that an art theorist or historian or art lover can ask is; why do people create art? What inspires the artist? It is a question that can be applied to all forms of visual art, from landscape paintings to contemporary installations. Humans have been creating works of art since the dawn of time and by simply visiting an art gallery or museum you can see how varied this world is.

Bertram Nicholls – Abbey Ruins

So, how does an artist begin to make work, where do they find their inspiration? Well, there are many different answers to this; what is comes down to is the artist’s individual voice. In this article we aim to begin to answer this question by looking at a few areas where artists throughout time have found inspiration.

Beginning an Artwork

All art begins with an idea – whether it is clear cut and linear or simply just a feeling. Every artist will have thought; ‘what do I want to create? What do I want to say or document?’

‘What Inspires Artists?’

Reflect Beauty

Edward Wesson – On The Broads

Beauty inspires beauty and this is ever apparent in the creation of landscape paintings. Natural landscapes can provide awe-inspiring feelings that many artists wish to replicate or at least represent in their artwork. To create something beautiful is often a driving force behind creating art.

Historical Event

Often artwork was created in relation to a significant event in time; this is more common with more historical art pieces, as of course, there were no cameras to document great wars and important events. The documentation of history is an important one which is why many artists even today are still inspired by past happenings.

The Human Figure

Stephen Rose – Leticia Reclining

Perhaps one of the most documented subject matters in art history is the human figure – especially the female figure. It is interesting to see how the depiction of the female form has altered throughout history altering in size and shape. The body is a great source of inspiration; there are many different poses where artists can explore their abilities and increase their representational skills.

Emotions & Feelings

Much art has been inspired by emotions and feelings; which is why art therapy is considered to be an effective method of care and treatment for mental illness. Abstract art is often inspired by mood and emotion; however, this isn’t always the case. All humans feel emotions therefore artwork inspired by them can indeed be universal.

To Challenge Society

The role of the artist has often been to challenge society and instigate social change, it is especially apparent in the modernist era up until today. Artists such as Marcel Duchamp were inspired by the art scene at the time which was incredibly exclusive and desired to challenge it with modernist creations which were much more kitsch rather than beautiful or skilful – it was art for arts sake.

Artwork inspired by the above subjects isn’t always representational; that is the beauty of art, you can be inspired by an event or a physical landscape and create something completely unique and different.


About Mark Mitchell

Dealers in 19th-20th Century British and Continental Works of Art
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