Inspiration, where does it come from?

If you had no access to books, social media, friends or other influences, how much would you create? Probably very little. I suspect you would run out of ideas in a short time. Any of us would.

We find inspiration in nature, in places we go, music we listen to, books we read and people we talk to.

Without a doubt, we are curious and creative beings. Not all of us in the same way, or to the same degree, of course, but we are born with an inherent desire to learn and create. Not only that, but we are social creatures and need each other to fuel our creativity. We feed off each other’s work and thoughts.

The speed that knowledge is shared has increased rapidly since the internet came into common usage. Indeed, we have access to an overwhelming quantity of knowledge. We can hardly remember where we heard or read the information we come across.

By the same token, we have access to unprecedented inspiration. That shared knowledge and imagination has, in turn, led to dramatic changes in our industry. Soap designs, ideas for candles, cosmetic products, you name it, have undergone a great deal of innovation in a relatively short amount of time and it shows no signs of slowing down.

We live in an exciting time as makers, but it can be confusing and worse, easy to forget whose genius influences our vision. Indeed, you and I probably never invented a bath and body or wax product and most of us have not invented a technique, either, but we see what others do and use it to influence our own work. At times, this causes conflict or hurt feelings because the originator feels that others stole that hard work.

It is not a bad thing to try new techniques or even try to replicate what we see, especially if the maker publicizes the technique. It is not a bad thing to take what we see and go a step farther, either; it is, in fact, natural to improve on what we learn.

Where does the problem come in?

First, I want to make it clear that taking credit for someone else’s brainchild is wrong, as is breaking the law in selling products, techniques and works that are legally protected. Also, it is unethical to copy the product line and marketing tactics of another business, especially a local competitor. It shows an appalling lack of imagination and initiative. However, neither of these situations is the point of this post.

The problem is getting so wrapped up in what we as individuals are doing that we forget those who help us, educate us or inspire us and thus, neglect to give recognition and thanks.

The challenge to us as makers is to acknowledge those who help us along the way. You will never lose respect by recognizing those who taught or inspired you. Others will, on the contrary, respect you more. The same is true in sharing with others. It helps all of us when we collaborate with each other to further the craft. We can’t do it alone.

We all have a great deal to offer, so let’s do it!

Until next time, may your days be filled with bubbles and wax.

Beth Byrne for Making Soap, Cosmetics & Candles Magazine.

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