How to never run out of inspiration
Or how to set up, fill and maintain a Digital Creative Bank Account
Hello there! I’m Gabriele - in art Flygohr - a multidisciplinary visual artist that likes creativity, personal growth, and productivity. This is my journal!
This article is about the notion of a Creative Bank Account, something I discovered a few years ago listening to Jake Parker explaining the concept. Go watch the video if you have 5 minutes, then come back for a few suggestions I have collected over the years.
I’m explaining the problem down here anyway, but if you watched the video, skip to the 2nd headline 😉
The problem 🧠
While you might be a ‘lucky one’ and have made art, writing, or whatever creative pursuit your main profession, stats say that for the majority of us creative time is very limited and there are day jobs, children, or other obligations constantly in the way of inspiration. Even full-time creatives are rarely free to do whatever they want and need to advance their projects, meet deadlines and deliver updates - as well as spend a hefty amount of time on administrative tasks.
What often happens is that, when we finally have a few empty hours to sit down to actually create, ideas don’t show up. We fidget, we check the phone, we doom-scroll until we give up and decide to try again in a few days. Or if we manage to get something out, but it’s been two hours and now we are tired and something else to do has popped up.
You feel like shit and the worst thing is that later on, under the shower, while tucking your kids to bed, while in the car headed to your shift, or at the supermarket, you end up having amazing ideas! It happens all the time to me.
You need a Creative Bank Account 🏦
This is really straightforward. If you have a place for all your ideas and sources of inspiration you’ll have an easy time picking some up and developing them when you actually have time to sit down. The Bank can literally be your studio, but not all of us can afford one, and stuffing it with books, miniatures, and posters can be expensive as well. It can also quickly lead to clutter and disorganization, which - in my personal experience - can kill creativity and offer distractions like nothing else. Some thrive in chaos... I don’t.
This is why I’m a strong proponent of a digital system. It can be inexpensive, it can be made accessible by multiple devices - therefore making it portable, allowing you to not depend on a single room for your creativity - and it can be set up in a multitude of ways. But while I’m leaving your setup to you, I can give you a few pointers from my years of experience so you can save some time.
The characteristics of a good Digital Creative Bank Account 🪙
It needs to be as centralized as possible. You need a place that can store videos, links, notes, images, and diagrams without you having to switch over multiple apps and websites to get to your creative juices.
It needs to be available on all your devices. It means it needs to run in the cloud, preferably, or that you have a routine in place to back up your stuff over multiple devices. Your ‘storage’ of choice hopefully has native apps that run wherever you need them.
It needs to be searchable and taggable. Forget folders. Searches are way more powerful and free you from having to keep a structure in place. Bonus point if the system of your choice allows for linking items together, like a freeform mind map or a ‘second brain’ kind of software.
I have a few suggestions for you here if you are lost. I personally use Obsidian, a powerful software that runs on all of my devices, supports syncing, and uses plain old files you will have access to even if the developer, some day in the distant future, stops delivering updates making Obsidian break. The cool thing about Obsidian is the graph view, which allows you to see a visual representation of how your notes link together, with clusters around your most ‘used’ items. But Obsidian is not exactly user-friendly and requires some setting up to do.
Other options I recommend for this are:
Google Drive or DropBox
Whatever you choose, your system is useless without a series of habits in place.
Quick capture everything ⚡
This is a very strong habit to acquire. In the beginning, there might be some friction, but once you get used to it, you’ll never want to go back and will actually feel bad if you forget to do it - positively reinforcing your habit.
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”
— David Allen in Getting Things Done
Dump all the inspiring content you come across inside your Digital Creative Bank Account of choice the moment you consume it. Nice picture? Save it! Inspiring video? Store it! Useful link? Bookmark it! No need to remember anything this way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing everything is safely stored in your system.
Just make sure to use the same place for everything, or you’ll end up with content scattered all over the place.
Review and tag 🏷️
From time to time, sit down and browse through your system. I do this probably once a year, but it’s very beneficial and I wish I’d do it more often.
Slip-ups happen, and you’ll find that you’ll have accumulated lots of stuff outside of your system. Spend some time to digitalize postcards, drawings, sketches, post-its, and whatever else you physically collected in your living spaces, car, or office. If you bought fancy artbooks or got some physical stuff that inspires you, just add a note with some tags describing it so you know it exists even if you don’t have it readily accessible. Sometimes just the thought of it is enough to spark your imagination.
Do the same for whatever you misplaced in your digital environments as well. Skim through your apps, bookmarks, downloads folders, and saved posts. Remove all the clutter and stuff everything in your Digital Creative Bank Account.
Sit down and create 💡
Now, whenever you have some free time to pursue your creativity, you just need to open up your Digital Creative Bank Account. It will take just a few minutes of scrolling around, sometimes even seconds, for your brain to get into full creative mode. That’s it. This is a very powerful system, that allowed me to stay on top of my crazy work schedule while finding the time - and inspiration - to constantly engage with something new, be it code, concept art, or writing a newsletter.
Hopefully, you liked the read. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions for me, I’ll be happy to help!
About me 👤
I am a self-taught digital artist from Italy. I am a multidisciplinary artist and a huge nerd. It means I can draw, paint, code, write, compose, sculpt, and more. I also like books, RPGs, and documentaries. I might be a productivity junkie.
You could say I started out as a homeless, alcoholic punk degenerate in the early 2010s. Now I have a few assistants, a studio, and lots of work I love on my plate. Most importantly, I’m sober and I can afford takeaway food multiple times a week. This is my journal.
Every few days I dissect some of my most recent projects, activities, and discoveries. I try to make it a 5 minutes read (well, apart from this one here.. this turned out pretty long). You can find lots of links and a bio on my main website, or you can follow me on Twitter where I post daily.
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