Where to find your inspiration for art and stories

We caught up with guest artist Amy Tan and asked where she finds inspiration for her art and for her stories. This is what she shared with us:

I draw a lot of inspiration from people, their stories and events in my life. My son Jack serves as a huge place of inspiration as he sees the world with such a fresh, curious and bright outlook. He just finished pre-school last month and seeing how excited he gets about simple things like going swimming or watering plants can inspire my spreads or the way I approach daily tasks around the studio. I’m also inspired by the natural beauty around me. As a Southern Californian mom as well as small business owner, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by gorgeous land- and cityscapes. It could be as simple as the way the silhouette of the palm trees outside sway and dance to something my son says or draws. I’m also deeply inspired by positive people and the stories they tell. That’s one of the many reasons I enjoy self help books. They encourage me to view the world differently than I have been. Seeing things in new ways is what art and creativity is all about!

Travel is a huge source of inspiration for me. Seeing new and different places can challenge, impress, and change my perspective. I think that’s one of the best things about travel— there’s an endless wealth of inspiration in every second of a trip: people-watching at the airport, a fun design on the hotel keycard, a conference speaker’s earrings. You never know what you’ll see that suddenly captures your imagination. I collect many of those little keepsakes and scraps of paper from my trips, even boarding passes, and put together little spreads in my travel journals later. It’s amazing how even a small memento can bring a whole page together.

Of course, I don’t create my work in a vacuum. There are so many other incredible women and small businesses in the arts and crafts industry, who scrapbook and journal and vlog. I don’t see it as competition. I see opportunities for collaboration and exchanging new and amazing ideas. It feels weird to say this, but I really feel like the luckiest person and I do what I love on a daily basis. Sure, I have stressful days, but I get to be creative, express it and share it. I think one of my all-time favorite inspirations lies in seeing what people do with things I have designed. When someone tells me that I inspired them, it’s one of the best feelings ever. It’s this amazing cycle because maybe something I make will spur the creative process for someone else.

The hardest part about being so inspired by the things around me, is creating the time to act on it. As an entrepreneur, I divide my time and attention between art and logistics, which can be a challenge. I always say I would love to just sit down and journal all day long, but there are emails to be written and videos to be edited. That part of my work is important, too, even if I find it a little monotonous at times. The most important thing for me is to create a balance between inspiration, productivity, and creation. That way, by the end of the day, I will have made beautiful things, completed important tasks, and spent valuable time with loved ones.

How do you find inspiration for your art? Tell us in the comments, we would love to know!


Amy is the Founder of Amy Tangerine, a creative lifestyle company that creates online content as well as fun, tangible products like tee shirts and craft supplies. Amy wrote the book, Craft a Life You Love, has taught workshops all over the world, makes YouTube videos, and consults with awesome brands and clients. Amy’s mission is to inspire women everywhere to feel joy and confidence by infusing creativity, fun and intention into the everyday.