The Gassy Gnoll: Where do you find artistic inspiration?

This Gassy Gnoll is not much of an artist. Stick figures mostly. The occasional dungeon map. I would have been right at home doing cave paintings 15-20,000 years ago. But I can appreciate talent in those who have it. The ability to render a mental image in some concrete way so someone else can also see it is an amazing gift. What’s not to appreciate?

purple-dragonLast night my family went to a city-wide art awards show. My eldest daughter (at age 12) had a piece entered in the competition by one of her art teachers. She did a cool little dragon sculpture in her pottery class. Though she didn’t win, hers was one of 10 entries in the category from our city of more than 400,000 people, which is awesome. (Yes, we are proud parents!) She shows a lot of promise in art, whether drawing with a pencil or pen, doing watercolors, sculpting, or whatever. Apparently that artistic gene skipped my generation. :)

At any rate, we wandered around this great facility showcasing art from the elementary, middle, and high school levels around the area. Lots of cool stuff from photography to drawings, mixed media, sculpture – even wearable art. And I couldn’t help but be impressed and inspired.

As gamers, I think we are in a good place to keep our mental faculties and creativity churning. As players we thrive on inter-party communication and conflict, use our acting and improvisational skills, and even apply tactics and strategy in a variety of ways. As GMs we go even further, creating stories, art, and more to detail entire worlds for our PCs and NPCs to inhabit. Gaming is an active use of imagination and a great way to keep our brains young even as we get older.

So exploring the arts, whether first-hand and doing it ourselves or second-hand as patrons or consumers, is a natural outgrowth of our creative endeavors. Whether art exists in nature or is man-made, somehow the sensory input it generates creates all sorts of fun ideas.

While wandering around the show, I saw several drawings that stuck with me including one of an eye-shaped arch through which someone was looking at the universe. Immediately I thought “gateway” or “doorway” or “viewer” and was pondering what was on both sides… Who was viewing the universe? What were they looking at? Why were they looking at it? And stories began forming before I’d even walked away…

Here’s my question for you then… Where do you go to refresh your creative batteries and get inspiration? Sure, there’s images all over the web and I get lost at DeviantArt just like a lot of people. But what do you use to fuel your stories in your game? Could be art of any variety – fiction, visual media, music… What gets those juices flowing?

Curious minds want to know!

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5 comments to The Gassy Gnoll: Where do you find artistic inspiration?

  • I find myself seeking the images that first inspired me to become an artist. I look back over old-school D&D line art. I check out DiTerlizzi’s Planescape magic. I cower behind the bed sheets and sneak a peek over the edge at the moody, broody, creepy pieces by Brom. I tiptoe through the more academic sites (ControlPaint)and read inspirational books (The War of Art) and then I look at the old masters, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Seurat. The modern genius of Damien Hirst who forces you to question your own definition of art. Once I am done ricocheting from style to style, I sit back down at my desk…copic pen in hand…ready to face the blank page once again.

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