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Finding Inspiration (or how I went to NYC and all I got was this lousy alligator head)

Alligator Head

I was recently going through my bookshelves at home, trying to find some books I could sell or donate. After scanning past titles like The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Filmmaker Andy Milligan and Bitter is the New Black, I came across all my old textbooks. It got me thinking about my days in college and all the people I used to look up to when I was a student, people like Molly Holzschlag, Dan Cederholm, Elliot Jay Stocks, Derek Featherstone and Jason Santa Maria.  I looked up to these people as mentors and inspiration, hoping that one day I would be just as bad-ass as they were.  I remember asking myself on every project “How would Dan build this?” or “Would Molly be satisfied with how my site validated?”. At some point, I became out of touch with these people. I didn’t have enough time to keep up with their blogs. I didn’t read their new books. I lost interest. And during that time, I had somehow become ok with it.

Fast forward 3 years, 2 jobs and 2,492 hours developing sites for IE6, I’m here at Teehan+Lax, literally just getting off the plane, returning from Carsonified’s FOWD in NYC where I was given an amazing opportunity to hear those very people speak. The first workshop I attended was Molly Holzschlag’s Open Web Standards for the Rich Web. Molly spoke about standards, about her career and about the future of web apps. Hearing her speak about these things made me think about my own career and my approach to web standards and exactly how important they really are. The next workshop was presented by Steve Smith from Ordered List and dabbled heavily in HTML5 and CSS3 with amazing demos of both. Seeing where HTML and CSS are headed was incredible. I had known about a lot of the new tags and CSS rules for some time, but seeing them implemented really made these things a reality.

About an hour into Molly’s workshop, I suddenly felt something. I had this fire within me that I needed to get out. After a few more hours, I could barely sit still. I knew that by the end of the conference I would desperately need to get back to my job and apply everything that I had learned. It was then that I realized how important it is to be inspired.

I started taking a look at how other people found inspiration. One of the best examples I found was Austrian designer, Stefan Sagmeister. He will take a one year sabbatical every 7 years or so where he doesn’t take on any work from clients and uses this time to really rediscover himself as a designer. He has a great section on his website dedicated to inspiration that can be found here.

Now, you may be like myself and not so um, financially stable, and aren’t really able to take a year off work, so lets look at some other ways to find inspiration! This can vary from person to person, but for me, I’m inspired by many things: vintage horror posters, photography, and people. Whether it be art, nature, or even an inanimate object, like a stuffed alligator head (which is available for purchase at The Evolution Store NYC), it’s so very important that you find that thing that inspires you. And that inspiration will push you further than you ever thought possible.

So here I am. Going back through my bookshelf, skimming past titles such as Eaten Alive!: Italian Cannibal and Zombie Movies and The Barefoot Contessa: Barefoot in Paris, and I find myself thinking more about what I have around me and where my next inspiration will come from, and if you’re so inclined, follow me on Twitter and find out firsthand.

Zack Ginies More posts by Zack Ginies