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  • Cari Griffo

Inspirational Objects and Surroundings of Creatives


All creatives need reminders of who they are and why they do their work. While in creative suspension, we pause to take in our surroundings. What is contained in our spaces can be as personal as what we create.


For some creatives, there is no separation from their life purpose and their home. Perhaps, highly evolved artistic souls do not isolate the practice of their work to neat and tidy spaces. The prioritization of their creativity bleeds into every ounce of their physical space. However rare the household takeover of one’s passion is, it exquisitely inspires.


When my musician friend built his home, he designed one big open living space, for which he could fit all his instruments. He claimed the major portion of his home sacred to his art, making his life purpose the predominate feature in his home. Musical objects everywhere. His entire house, his studio.


As a writer, I have prided myself on my portability. I don’t need a designated office as long as I have my laptop, or paper and pen, or a napkin….No matter where I am writing, I find objects, I gather books, I light incense, open a window, listen to wind chimes, I create my surroundings.

No matter where I write, there is only one condition: I cannot create in clutter or chaos.


Unless you are Francis Bacon, inspiration usually flows better in a clear open space. Otherwise, a space too full of stuff is distracting, and for most, resistance to one’s work cannot be overcome.

Steve Martin wrote with his desk directly in front of a blank, empty wall. His looking into nothingness helped him to create.


Clearing your space lifts the energy to create. There is a great story about Alexander Calder and his intolerance of keeping anything around him he did not like. When his mother-in-law gifted him with a platter and pitcher, he thanked her, then turned around and smashed them to pieces with a hammer. He was cognizant of the energy from a disliked object and its ability to attract more of the same. So, keep what you love around you, and perhaps, you will create more of what you love.


Objects can evolve from project to project. When I wrote my first novel, I had a pile of photographs of the neighborhood I was writing about, along with writings from my teen aged friends. The collection traveled with me in my briefcase no matter where I wrote, I took them out and placed them in front of me.


Or objects can remain through a lifetime. Matisse surrounded himself with the same objects in his studio for years and they consistently inspired his works of art. “I have worked all my life before the same objects.”


Alters, a collection of inspirational objects can be powerful. An altar can honor your creative process and elevate what motivates your work. Light a candle on your altar and you ignite your willingness and readiness to do your business.


To paint tribal masks, Picasso, plastered his walls in African masks. Their presence was not only physical but could be felt emotionally. The walls around you make a statement and must evoke how you want to feel while creating. Do your walls need more color, more artwork, more personal photos, or like Steve Martin, more emptiness?


In the book, The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield, reveals an entire ritual before he sits down to write. Whether he is being facetious or not, it doesn’t matter, as I love the image of the objects, he uses in order to work. “I put on my lucky work boots and stitch up the lucky laces my niece Meredith gave me.” He puts on his “lucky hooded sweatshirt,” and his “lucky LARGO nametag.” After donning himself with luck, he has a “lucky” charm” he got from a gypsy and a “lucky” camera so it can “fire inspiration.”


Your surroundings and objects not only inspire creation but just might bring you luck.


On my desk, yes, I now have a desk, I have a photo of Lucille Ball. The frame of gold leaf flowers, beauty to match her beauty, her serious pose, cannot disguise her silliness, her crafty sense of humor. No matter how serious I am about my writing, I look at her and only have laughter. She reminds me the reason I write is for the joy it brings. Surround yourself with what gives rise to your joy, your reason to create.






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