As artists, we gain inspiration from a variety of different sources. Some can gain inspiration at home from their families and friends. Nature inspires some while sprawling cityscapes inspire others. Though, as the prevalence of fanart would imply, many artists simply get inspiration from pre-existing works.
Influence in Existing Work
Even artists on existing shows, movies, comics, etc. take inspiration from other pre-existing media. ‘Steven Universe,’ for example, pays homage to ‘Revolutionary Girl Utena‘ on multiple occasions. Most notably is during ‘Steven the Sword Fighter‘ where many of Pearl’s moves mimic Utena’s directly. Lotte Reiniger also influenced some scenes in ‘The Answer.’ Most only take a select few references but some, like Andrew Hussie‘s ‘Homestuck,’ use hundreds of pop culture references. The sprawling webcomic takes inspiration from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ ‘Peter Pan‘ and many more.
My first real artistic inspiration came from ‘Tokyo Mew Mew.’ I began watching it age eleven and noticed an art competition on a forum. My desperation to win this competition that didn’t even offer a prize was so strong that I taught myself how to draw manga. Not very good manga, mind you, but I was fairly proud of it at the time. The one thing Tokyo Mew Mew really did was inspire me to draw and keep drawing. I’d churn out between ten and twenty (coloured!) drawings a day. This set a precedent of continued practice that allowed me to improve, albeit slowly, over the years and I’ve got a lighthearted anime about magical animal girls to thank for it.
My inspirations now come from two main sources, which I have already mentioned in passing. As an animation student, Steven Universe is a great inspiration to me. The show is universal enough to appeal to young and old audiences. The character design is diverse and creative. The story covers both gags and complex plotlines, containing loss, heartbreak and moral choices. The sheer fact that characters such as Ruby and Sapphire can exist openly on children’s television is inspirational. Thus, I hope that one day I’ll have the good fortune to work on something as influential as Steven Universe.
Revolutionary Girl Utena is also hugely influential with me when it comes to creating art. The show is full of visual language that wows me every time I rewatch it. Every episode is set up beautifully with metaphors, scene layouts and careful transitions that enthrall the viewer. Other than the obviously iconic final two episodes, the most inspirational scenes I found were the two Juri duels. Both scenes are quite similar except for the endings and the flashbacks. In the first duel, Juri knocks Utena’s sword into the air and, just as she is about to finish the duel, the sword crashes down and takes Juri’s rose, ending the duel in Utena’s favour. In the second, Juri forfeits after Utena accidentally cuts off the locket she keeps of her love interest, Shiori. The intensity and drama in these scenes is something I aspire to be able to create some day with my own work. It’s impossible for me to watch the show without a pencil in my hand!
So what shows, movies, comics, etc. inspired you to start creating art and what inspires you to keep going? Let us know in the comment section below!
Writer, artist, perpetual holder of notions.