Thoughts on inspiration by Lina Katzmarcik, accompanied by photos she took of her sister, Luisa.
Inspiration is something many forget is something we must be concious of. Lina takes a look into the the process of connecting with the muse that is what inspires us. Having some element of control over our inspiration is a dream to many, but Lina shows us an avenue to the possibility.
Sometimes I wish inspiration was like the milkman, that it would turn up on my doorstep at six in the morning Monday to Friday.
Sadly, or perhaps luckily, this is not how it works at all. I often sit and obsess over a mood-board, make arrangements with a team of stylists, models and make-up artists. We book a location for an entire Saturday or Sunday to make sure we have enough time to get the best results out of a shoot. I have all these glorious visions of how the photos will look and then I find myself standing before this gorgeous model, in front of a beautiful backdrop and I feel nothing. My inspiration has deserted me. If on such an occasion my photos turn out okay-ish I’m lucky. Every time I feel like a failure, an imposter.
In recent years I’ve learned so much about being inspired, about living creatively and pursuing a career in the arts.
I’ve always been drawn to photography and writing alike, if I can combine the two - even better. I love the idea of capturing a story, a feeling, a moment between the lines or a secret in the shadows of a picture. The biggest question I’ve had to ask myself when I chose to embark on my journey of creative living was certainly this: Do I have the courage to be inspired? Creativity is not about time, or about money, it is about dedication and naked courage. It’s about a contract with inspiration. You give me an idea, I will make it real. Charles Bukowski wrote a brutally honest poem called “So You Want to be a Writer?” in which he shoots down all our favourite excuses: I don’t have time, I don’t have money, I’m not feeling it today, It’s not the right moment, I will do it when I’m more settled, older, wiser, less stressed, more free… He says,
"If you want it enough, no circumstance in the world will stand between you and your creative output."
Why? Because if it’s inside you and it wants out, then it will pour out of you and into this world. You just need to be brave. The most important lesson I learned when figuring out how to best live out my creativity then it’s this: Don’t quit your day job! (Yet!) Inspiration doesn’t wait patiently until you’re ready or until you have time. It strikes you, kisses you, greets you when it pleases, it knocks the air out of your lungs and makes your fingers tremble with the longing to create. And then? It’s up to you. Are you brave enough to hold its hand and walk down the path of creativity together?
Sure, Inspiration is a fickle thing but it does have a pattern.
I think one of the most important things for me was finding out what inspired me and mainly where inspired me. We’re all different, we perceive the world differently and we draw energy from different things. Some thrive on company, others on solitude, some love the noise and the bright lights and the thrilling energy of the big cities and others need the sound of rain, the rustle of leaves and the soothing serenity of the countryside. That’s me. It took me many years and being forced to live in the city for work to realize that I’m most inspired when I’m in nature. People make me claustrophobic, concrete buildings numb my inspiration. I need the croak of a frog, the iridescent glimpse of a dragonfly landing on a leaf. I need clean air and I need quiet.
What do you need? Do you know?
Find it and then, if you can, surround yourself with it, immerse yourself, close your eyes and let the feel of geographical inspiration prickle on your skin. Feel it. And then manifest it. I think inspiration is like a seed and it lies dormant within each of us until it falls on fertile ground and then the more you feed it, the more it grows. Every idea is a new blossom, another leaf and even when the seasons change, as long as you keep feeding it, your plant is evergreen. I also think it’s important to distinguish between being brave and being reckless. I always had this idea about my glamorous life as a photographer. I’d quit my teaching job, jet from Paris to Milan to New York and back and do cocaine and vodka shots in bathrooms with models and directors after quickly snapping some photos somewhere in between. I did quit my teaching job. I did start working as a photographer. With my bank account looking more barren each month I began living my “glamorous” life in downtown Barcelona. I bumbled from one location to the next on the metro, shared a seedy apartment with three guys and two families of cockroaches in the red light district and smoked weed in the tiny windowless bathroom. My parents never visited and neither did my inspiration. I worked freelance for a production company and my photos were between mediocre and fine. I just wasn’t feeling it. I jumped head first into a situation I couldn’t judge, no foresight and no pragmatic thinking. The bohemian idea of what it meant to be an artist, I think anyway, is more often than not just that - an idea. I’m not saying don’t dream, I’m not saying don’t work towards this ideal if it is what you long for.
My point is don’t be reckless, just be brave.
Embrace your fear, acknowledge it and make it your constant companion. Let it be the sulky teenager in your passenger seat, don’t take it too seriously but acknowledge that sometimes it isn’t wrong. Listen, but never ever let it drive. Inspiration sends ideas your way all the time but its up to you to grasp one, to make a fleeting thought in your head a reality, to manifest an idea in the real world. And trust your gut. Even so, we can talk about guts and bravery and talent all we want, about being in the right place at the right time and about mingling with the right people. But what creative living needs above all other things is this: unwavering discipline and hard, hard work. It still irks me that people seem to think that designers, photographers, filmmakers and writers live a life of leisure. Most of my friends who work in a creative field are also waiters, teachers, security guards or personal trainers. In our society its so easy to give up on living creatively and making beautiful things for others enjoyment because - for most of us- it isn’t the most lucrative business. Because today most things are done for money. We think that making money means being successful but that is never the whole truth. Keep your day job, I know you need to feed yourself and your family. But please, be brave, work hard, find your place, communicate with your inspiration, harvest ideas. Don’t do it for the money, do it because you want to, because you're bursting with it. To quote Bukowski, “if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it.” Do it because it makes you happy. Do it because you can’t not do it.
Do it because art draws bridges between people, its where we bond and where change is born. Art moves the world forwards. It always has and always will. Listen to your muse when she visits you, be kind to her.
My sister is the most beautiful person I know, inside and out.
We were at home on Sunday and she was just sitting there eating a watermelon and I thought to myself that I wish I could show her how gorgeous she is. She struggles a lot, there are so many girls around her who have had boob jobs or lip fillers and I know they make her feel like maybe she needs those too. So I just photographed her walking around our garden, just hanging out and she looked so golden and so perfect, I love how the shadows painted her body and how relaxed she was. It wasn’t a photoshoot at all, it was me trying to capture her soul on a Sunday morning: all shadows and light and this golden energy that I always feel radiates off of her.
I think that’s what inspires me the most, this energy some people just seem to have and then sometimes I’m lucky enough to capture it.