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Carrie Davenport Photography

Source: Carrie Davenport

I belong to an online group of entrepreneurial women who support, advise, and inspire each other to feel great about their businesses, and to forge ahead with their ventures with pride and confidence. It is, in short, an amazing thing to be a part of. In a world where women can compete, quite viciously at times, this is a true sisterhood where there’s a lot of love, encouragement, advice, and celebration.

Every so often, members from the group meet in person to discuss things relevant to business, and last time it was ‘what inspires you?’ I couldn’t attend, but I was all over this in a heartbeat, and I emailed a list of the things that get me going. I thought I’d share them with you today.

1. Polyvore
Perfect for visual junkies like me. I use it for creating little editorial layouts. I don’t treat it like a slapdash pinboard/wish list; I make quirky collages. When you make a collection in the app, and strive to make it look like a picture in and of itself, rather than just ‘a bunch of stuff’, you start to think about negative space, rule of three, and all sorts of artistic compositional stuff. Using Polyvore like this opens my mind, challenges it, and it becomes more than just a fashion shopping list.

Always Be a Unicorn

Always Be a Unicorn

The Other Side

The Other Side

2. Scrapbooks
Old-school Polyvore, kids. I love cutting out images, words, typography, anything, and making them into a brand new image. It’s funny to put headlines or article titles against an image to give it a whole new meaning. Again, you can be much more imaginative with a scrapbook, forcing a layout to say something by being thoughtful about placement, juxtaposition, irony, and so on, rather than just whopping a load of stuff onto its pages in a mindless fashion. A scrapbook is art, a message, not a junkyard.

3. Instagram
I could spend hours scrolling through Instagram. It’s my go-to place for a visual whistle-stop tour through other people’s experiences. Again, it’s the immediate communication of the visual impact that inspires me more than anything else. It’s not only the snapshots themselves that thrill me, but the effects and filters people use, and the other people they regram and tag that all lead you to discover yet more new things. Your circle grows, and grows, and grows.

July 2014 on WayOutWedding Instagram

4. Charity shops
There’s nothing like rummaging around the rails in these places. Plus the window displays are fantastic. I used to work in Oxfam, and the new hauls each day were not just clothes and bric-a-brac, they were stories. I wrote a short story about it! I did the window displays, too, where I had a phrase or a look as my brief. Such good fun finding relevant bits to fit this while also attracting customers with the resulting looks. Really got the imagination working. I’m going to use this way of working to style some of the pages in the upcoming Way Out Wedding magazine – I’m still that inspired by it! A bit like Cheap Date, the most awesome anti-fashion ‘zine by Bay Garnett and Kira Joliffe, where they kind of poked a bit of fun at high fashion by using charity shop stuff on top models and mimicking the poses of fashion editorials. I can see this working in a bridal magazine. Sometimes you don’t want to be sold a dress, you want to be sold an idea, a spark that sets off the inspiration of what YOU want to look like.

5. Shop window displays
SelfridgesLiberty, Topshop Oxford Circus: these are the three institutions whose window displays transcend merchandising and reach up into something else entirely. It’s basically art installation. The Christmas displays, in particular, always got me peering up close and personal, gawping away at the theatre and drama of it all.

Vogue pic instagram

big fat magazine time

Source: Way Out Wedding on Instagram

6. Magazines
Highly visual ones like Love and AnOther Magazine are amazing for inspiration. Their crazy poses for the models on shoots, I love. Really quirky. Art meets fashion and goes boom. They’re also chocka with the next thing on my list…

7. Fashion label ad campaigns
Again, art meets fashion, meets art/linguistic theory. Second order semiology – where meaning is derived from the connotations and symbology residing beneath the literalness of the superficial layer – is the major player at work in couture ads. I collected them when I was at university in my scrapbooks and also put them up on my walls for inspiration. It’s amazing what things can be found there amongst the fragmented women reclining on beds, the cavorting couples both same-sex and opposite, the parted red and glossy lips – feminist theory, Roland Barthes, Marxist theory, John Berger, Walter Benjamin, Otherness, Helene Cixous, Lacan, Irigaray, Freud… It’s more than a pair of high heels when you get down to it.

good-evil-fashion-chris-nicholls3

bazaarbeauty

Source: Fashion Gone Rogue

Gucci 97

Source: Way Out Wedding on Instagram

8. Music
Music is such a huge part of my life. Ever since ever, I’ve lost myself in music, in the stories of songs and lyrics, in the fashion and styles of bands and singers, in every last little thing music has to offer. I get lost in it all and come out the other side with something to create or give. Music is magic. 

9. Doing something daunting
Creating the magazine for the blog is scary as heck, even though I’ve worked on magazines professionally. Feeling a bit nervous, or lacking confidence, actually inspires me to just send the scary email, ask someone I admire to collaborate, create layouts no one may like except me. It’s so very freeing to ignore the inner voice of doubt and just do something anyway.

10. Reading other blogs
Ones in your own industry are really good to read – you pick up ideas along the way you might not have thought of – for me, that’s new designers, wedding fairs, suppliers. You have to be really mindful of not accidentally being derivative, but rather stopping at inspired! Blogs outside your sphere help this. In fact, recently, I’ve read more blogs that have sod all to do with weddings, and I’ve loved it.

11. Interviewing other creatives
I interview suppliers for the blog, and as part of this I ask them what inspires them. This is how I discover a ton of new stuff to look at and be inspired by.

12. Unplug
Surprising what your brain fires at you when you can’t get near the Internet! When I go for a run, take a bath, just sit and be (rare), I’m less distracted by what other people are talking about, and I can hear once again my own inner voice and its crazy, beautiful ideas.

13. Art galleries
An obvious one, maybe, but don’t you feel completely alive and revived when you leave a gallery? I always get the urge to create something, anything, off the back of the creative hit I experience from seeing paintings, and installations in particular, in real life. I’ll never forget seeing all the famous pieces in the Saatchi Gallery: Tracey Emin’s bed, Myra Hindley created with cut-outs of children’s hand prints, Richard Wilson’s oil installation 20:50 (which was like looking into your soul or the blackness of space), or the Turner Prize the year Grayson Perry won, where I was blown away by his vases and by the Chapman Brothers’ defaced Goya ‘Disasters of War’ etchings. I still think of them now. Art is powerful stuff.

14. Architecture
High rises, in particular. When I lived in London, I loved looking at all the blocky buildings out of the train window that most would say are ugly. I loved the stark lines, the uniformity of them. I’d dream up cool lino and screen print designs in my head. For some reason, the dullness of these structures was utterly inspirational to me. What does that say about me!!

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So, what inspires you? Let me know! I love hearing about what gets others’ creativity bursting…