I am going to be completely honest with you. As I was applying to college in my senior year of high school (which, by the way, becomes a lot more fun when that process is over) I almost took Parsons off of my application list because I was so stumped by the Parsons Challenge. In my defense, the requirement for my year was to produce three pieces of art around an object/theme that is often overlooked. This year’s prompt can be found here.
Anyway, I’ve never been one to give up just because something was too daunting. It is, after all, the Parsons Challenge, right? So, a mere week before the deadline I locked myself in a room and began to think about what I have overlooked throughout my entire life. After multiple nonsensical ideas made their way into my sketchbook, something grabbed my attention out of the corner of my eye.
As soon as I looked up, I saw what would become the centerpiece for some of the strongest works I have ever produced. In that moment, everything in my brain clicked because it was everything the challenge had asked me to do; bring light to something that was seemingly insignificant. Now, after almost two years at Parsons, I give y0u a list of tips on where to find inspiration for your challenge. It really is as simple as looking up.
1. Write everything down.
Yes, I mean everything. Your creative mind is constantly working, and if you read a great quote, or discover a new artist, make a note and find the origins of that saying and/or person.
2. Read about things that don’t normally interest you.
If you’re a fashion fanatic, it can be tedious finding inspiration in Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar because you don’t want to risk copying what you see. Instead, why not pick up the latest Economist and find a way to make GDP and inflation aesthetically pleasing?
3. Hit the pavement.
Never forget that there is an entire physical world out there just begging to be enjoyed. If you don’t get off the computer you will have no idea what is going on. Visit your local art gallery, go to department stores, or just take a walk. Inspiration is always sitting right in front of you.
4. Keep your eyes open.
Take it from everyone’s favorite redhead, Grace Coddington: “Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you can see can inspire you.” This goes hand-in-hand with number three on this list. Don’t fall asleep in the car, and analyze everything around you. What does it mean? Where will it go next?
5. Use your pre-sleep thought pattern for good.
We all know the agonizing struggle of having an active mind when we are trying to get to sleep. However, I believe that is just a time to review the day and pick apart all that occured. Your brain remembers everything you see even if you don’t, so take advantage of this time as you continue your search for inspiration.
Please comment below or find me on Facebook if you have any questions or need advice on your Parsons Challenge!