A map of self.

10 years, 11 months ago 24
Posted in: Rant!


People often ask me for the sources of my inspiration. It’s a standard and seemingly straightforward question for an artist to encounter on regular basis; just list the artists you admire, right, nothing more to it?

It’s not as easy to answer as it seems. In fact, I’ve began to find it very annoying lately. I always hesitate with my response to this most predictable of questions because I find inspiration everywhere and it’s very difficult to separate your entire life into neat little compartments of profoundness and non-importance. The truth is that every single second of my life, every single object I’ve seen, every life encounter I’ve had and every interaction I’ve experienced, are continuous constructive forces of my inspiration. Everything I see is internalized and processed into information that is expressed through my work. Yes, sure, like every other creative individual art, books, music, fashion, design and other artists inspire me a lot.  But so do kitchen forks and my hair brush. Garbage trucks can be very inspiring under the right circumstances. And don’t get me started on tin foil- that stuff is awesome!

Perhaps it’s completely unreasonable of me to be annoyed at this question. I keep telling myself that I should be flattered that some people want to know what makes me tick. It is after all an excellent ego massage. It’s just, I can’t seem to help but find it very futile. Yes, on one hand I know exactly the type of art I love and can give you 50 artists I worship off the top of my head, but does a short list of a few preferred famous names, books and art movements really tell one anything significant about another person? It says almost nothing, because there are  thousands of other people with the same short list as you. It’s our unique lives and deeply individual experiences which we live through every day, that make up our inspiration and our influences. But perhaps I’m wrong …..?

This is why I find the question about my inspirations very unsettling and difficult to answer. How far do I go? Where do I stop? Good thing magazine interviews have a word limit.

Also, this is why I’m going to create a new section on my website where I try to identify as many separate and important inspiration sources which influence and shape my world and my work. A map of self.

I’ll also do a weekly blog entry about the inspiration of the week. Perhaps some obvious patterns will emerge.

About the picture. It was taken for fun. Prosthetic leg was attached to this doll temporarily, while I was evaluating the project goals. I’m still evaluating them.

24 Responses

  1. Amal says:

    A map sounds very interesting! Plus, then you can just provide your interviewer with a link to your website, in answer to their question.

    I also think inspiration is a lifelong journey, not a list. It’s organic. I hope your map will look organic.

    Have you heard of a book called ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ by Alan Fletcher. It’s sort of a visual compilation of (a lot of) his life’s experiences/thoughts/inspirations.

    Nice photo.

  2. daniseyu says:

    pay attention to everything in our lives,this is a good way to get inspiration.and i will do as u say,it will help with my study and work.
    believe or not,marina,u do teach me a lot and help to open my mind.every time u update the blog brings me surprise.

  3. Maria says:

    I agree with you that inspiration comes from everything around us, it is very hard to answer such a question. Usually the short answer by an artist will be some random artist names, books etc. But I too find that inspiration can come from almost anything, a piece of clothing shown for a second in a movie can set your artist sense off. A label of a brand may have intersting colours one wants to experiment with.
    It is a standard question, this “What is your inspiration”, and I understand why artists find it annoying, first because one probably have had that question asked a million times, and second because it is a hard one to answer.

  4. kelly says:

    Tin foil is awesome.

  5. daniseyu says:

    so glad to see your reply,this can be the first time talk to u. i love to do doll works too.i hope we can talk,about doll clothing or something.maybe i can share some chinese styles cause i’ve learned some traditional culture just for doll clothing,hope u interested in it.

  6. Jekka says:

    Experience for inspiration seems to come at a reasonable exchange. If you have not seen, felt, and experienced things of all kinds of nature how do you know what really inspires you?

    I think the question is silly too when you think about it in depth. Most of the time they expect you to spit out a persons name or place when life is the inspiration.

  7. Kimmi says:

    Haha, next time someone asks you that, you should just be like, “Life.” And change the subject :D

  8. I too was going to suggest what Kimmi just did. It is not an arrogant answer, nor is it really “dodging” the question.
    Life – with all its suprises, mysteries, beauties, and challenges.

    A favourite quote of mine from Einstein:

    “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”

    I also really enjoyed what Amal said – “inspiration is a lifelong journey, not a list. It’s organic”. Something you may be inspired by today, may not be an inspiration tomorrow, but you have grown from it and been enriched by it.

  9. silvana says:

    I think you all right, the ispiration is eveywhere, not only the books, magazines or other artists. Maybe only creative person is capable to inspirate for to many things around!
    The dolls so pretty!!!!

  10. Rogelio says:

    i as an artist find that question hard too, in my case i agree with what most of you say, it can be pretty much anything.
    and i think an easier question to answer would be what does not inspire you?
    i believe it will be shorter, but it could be sad

    …..I hope to see the real finished doll with the prosthetic leg soon…..

  11. Jú Serra says:

    oh well I do fell the same way, how can u make identifications that inspire oneself if people ar areldy a mess of information xD

    espacialy now and days were one could be inspired of anything XD

  12. Joel Haas says:

    After 28 years as a professional free lance sculptor, I have had that question put to me more than most of you. I use humor. I tell them, “There’re really only a dozen or so real artists in the country. They sell their ideas to a company in Chicago. The rest of us just pay a $15/year subscription for a quarterly catalog of ideas to choose from.”
    Generally, my listener, often a well oiled doctor or lawyer’s wife, will look at me goggle-eyed and breathless, “Really! I had no idea!” she’ll gush.
    My wife has long since learned to walk away early before I get started so she doesn’t burst out laughing.

  13. joan says:

    i believe that artists never lose that wonderful imagination they were born with. like a child experiencing life for the first time every morning when he wakes up and opens his eyes. all is brand new and exciting and enticing. you are so lucky.

  14. Fang fang says:

    Marina, i think you’re a man of genius.i love all the doll you had made.they are so beautiful.it’s so nice to know you and saw these lovely angles.
    i’m a chinese girl.you are my idol.
    happy new year.

  15. janil says:

    I have just found your blog and I’m absolutely awesomed with your dolls. they are fanastic, gorgeous, awesome… Well I’m Sapnish and my English quite bad but i love them!!!!Congratuations about your work!

  16. noxy says:

    completely unrelated note to the blog, but as i was looking, I noticed the adsense on the side, and it had a link for “Uglydolls” and I was like…. >B-{ HOW DARE YOU ADSENSE!! But the uglydolls are kinda cute. lol (yep, I clicked! I’m contributing! hahaha)

  17. Annina says:

    noxy, mine is showing “stop being an idiot” and “voodoo dolls”, hahaha, might check the first one!

  18. Amal says:

    lol, mine says ‘Women with Thin Hair
    NEW! No more bulky wigs…’

  19. dear marina,

    go to audrey’s blog – yuuwaku was chosen as one of the prints she’ll be selling :-)
    I remember that was your favourite.

  20. Annina says:

    i was just going to post the link, don’t miss it on january 23rd:


  21. Manü says:

    Dear Marina,
    Your inspiration is very diverses and creative, it’s part of you and your nature.Each artist have a certain feeling with her environnement and relation with Other and her Partner
    At this point of your life your source of inspiration is full of joyce and happiness
    Congratulations for your work, and all the best for 2010

  22. Sarthak says:

    this has been exactly the same kind of emotion each person into creating some for of art goes through !

  23. boy says:

    Dear, Marina

    I like your dolls and designs so much, you made beautiful and gorgeous dolls which attached me. I hope, I can have one for me..

    Your fan,


  24. my site says:

    I simply want to tell you that I’m new to blogs and certainly loved your web page. Likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog . You definitely come with excellent articles. Bless you for sharing with us your website page.

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