Carter Wong Tomlin
As that Martini ad once famously intoned, ‘anytime, any place, anywhere’, inspiration is a slippery beast waiting to creep up and slap you when you least expect it.
However, I’ve found that it can be tamed and nurtured by frequenting creative environments, be it galleries, concert halls, degree shows or, one of my favourite haunts, Portobello’s Friday fleamarket in London, a weekly diversion on my bike armed with sketchbook, camera and an inquisitive eye. I’ve always considered the term fleamarket a touch disingenuous as over the years I’ve uncovered some priceless finds, not in the monetary sense, but unique objects that are imbued with a former life and are, well, inspirational.
A recent discovery of a discarded butterfly case, the occupants long flown save their Latin names, was an eloquent if unintentional graphic statement on endangered species. But it’s type in every conceivable format that abounds: from long-forgotten facias to ‘lettering sets’ that local traders once used to hand-produce their price tags, one evocatively named ‘Silent Salesman’. A boxed Victorian word game consisting of individual characters and a Spanish rubber stamp alphabet remain poignant reminders of words spoken in another era and tongue.
Having embraced the Flickr phenomenon (username: canarycarlo) I can post these gems on the website where they will continue to inspire me, and hopefully others, for weeks to come.