Inspiration sometimes bursts through the front door, trumpeting its arrival and delivering with a great flourish – you can be left in no doubt that you’ve just been inspired. Places, people or works of art often do this, changing the way you see the world from the moment you encounter them.
But there are other kinds of inspiration, which enter quietly through the side entrance or burrow up from underground. The smaller things that, even though we might not know it at the time, leave their mark on our consciousness and influence our thinking for years ahead.
Over the past 20 years I’ve enjoyed the inspirational influence of great thinkers and world icons – people, places and things. But there is one inspirational object that I’ve kept on the top of the pile, even as others were being lost, discarded or replaced.
When I was 14 years old and any interest in art and design had yet to be developed, I visited New York and saw most of the major landmarks. The only souvenir I held on to was my ticket for the Empire State Building.
At the time it was just a souvenir. But now I can see that this tiny piece of paper contains much more: juxtaposition of scale, the use of typography, the icon of the building itself, the assertive statement about its world-class status. Its inspiration has been quietly at work for many years.