That is the most commonly asked question when we show our books. Yesterday at the book arts class at Arizona State University, a graduate student asked the question. Basically I said that I get ideas by looking for meaning in what I see and hear and feel in life, and I realized that because the question is so common, we must all have a deep desire to be creative people. We need to feel connected to a creative flow that creates beauty or meaning or connects us to our his/her/story. The answer to the question gets super complex because really, if I knew, I could bottle it and sell it, right?
One thing I know, though, is that if you are engaged in a creative life, you probably live in a very beautiful and interesting house. In Alhambra, CA, our friends Janet and Robert have restored their 1900s house with vintage wallpapers, antique light fixtures and even the doilies on tables look cool. In Jerome, AZ, Nancy and Mike revamped their miner’s shack beautifully with vivid colored walls and quirky antiques like a rusted child’s wagon for a coffee table. Nan and Dave are transforming an ugly motor home with corrugated tin siding and bright red paint. Our hosts Jim and Karla here in Paradise Valley (Near Phoenix) designed and built a house in the 1970s that because the materials and design were so artfully considered, their home does not have that dated 70s feel. We are parked in their driveway beside the creosote bushes that are in full bloom with yellow flowers. Quail are scuttling around and calling out to one another all over the yard. Karla has dedicated a portion of her yard for growing a papermaking fiber plant, which she says makes a fine strong paper like the paper mulberry (now that is an awesome example for sustainable art, yes?). The house is long and open to the outdoors with floor to ceiling windows, the door handles are all of wood and Jim has made a lot of the furniture of naturally shaped slabs of wood. We eat off ceramic plates made by a local artist. We visited the studio of architect and artist Paolo Soleri yesterday and loved the curvy and surface decorated walls and bronze bells. I am inspired by all of these folks. Gosh, where DO they get their ideas?