I often get questions about how I come up with ideas for my art, so I thought I would try to explain my process a bit more in depth.
I don’t believe creativity is something that “strikes” you, but rather something you have to work actively on. I’m nowhere near to fully understand my own creative process, but I do have a work flow I follow. I try to schedule creative sessions of one or two hours a couple of times each week where I don’t do any actual work. In these sessions I shield myself from the outside world and the distractions of everyday life and try to come up with ideas. I believe for creativity to happen I need to be in a calm, playful and open mindset where I can focus and hear myself think. This is easier said than done, it takes a lot of effort to force yourself to take this time to not think about or do anything else. I have mainly two tools to "collect" ideas, my notebook and my camera.
One way I collect ideas is taking a walk with my camera looking for interesting things to photograph. I think there are endless ideas out there just waiting to be discovered. On these walks I force myself to really look at my surroundings and think about what I am seeing. I can walk down a street I walked on a hundred times before and every time discover something new I can build an idea and picture around, it's all about mindset; what's going on inside and what you are receptive to in that moment. I like to think of it as "sampling" reality to make a new one, like a music producer samples old songs to make new ones. Often I can have something I've seen on these walks, like a beautiful tree or a cool rock, in the back of my mind for a long time and when the time is right and I get an idea where I need it, I know where to find it.
The other main way in which I collect my ideas is my sketchbook. I simply just sit or lay down, letting my mind wander and sketch down ideas that pops up. I find that the ideas start coming after about 30-40 minutes of wrestling my mind into submission, not to think about bills, dishes or other distractions. The sketches I do are in no way finished ideas, and often very, very sloppy, but they give me something to work on. An interesting thing I've noticed is that if I, despite of my very limited drawing skills, can get an idea through with a simple sketch, then the idea is often simple and powerful enough to translate into a finished piece I'm happy with.