Here is a list of my top ten inspirational things. They are not in any particular order.
1. Music by Fernando Ortega
My Dad first introduced me to this Christian artist when I was in middle school. Since then, I’ve collected all of his albums. I get a feeling of nostalgia when I listen to his music. It reminds me of going on long drives with my dad along the highway. The songs are also positive and uplifting for times when I am feeling anxious.
2. C.S. Lewis
I’ve started reading books by this famous theologian several times. There are only a couple that I’ve actually finished. Don’t get me wrong. The books aren’t bad. In fact, they are so rich with thought-provoking exposition on the study of God that it’s often hard to digest. As odd as it sounds, that is why I love it. It gets me thinking critically about my faith and how it makes sense.
The books I finished were The Great Divorce, Shadowlands, and the first three novels in the Chronicles of Narnia. I’m currently working on Mere Christianity.
3. Nature, especially the South Sister
I think this is a common inspiration to most people, but I am constantly awed by the sheer scale and majesty of the natural world. I love nature hikes, and I especially enjoy climbing mountains. My favorite climb in Oregon is the South Sister, the tallest of the Three Sisters. From the glacier-laden crater at the top, you can see half the state. It makes you realize just how small you actually are on this earth – a humbling thought.
4. Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes
I’ve been making weekly comic strips for the OSU student newspaper for the last year-and-a-half, and I get a lot of my inspiration from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. The famous series ran for ten years before Watterson decided to bring it to an end and pursue other interests. During those ten years, he fought to keep his characters from being licensed (exploited, as he saw it) and experimented with unorthodox layouts for Sunday comics. His dedication to the art of comics inspires me to continually innovate and stand up for my convictions.
5. Pixar Films (especially Wall-e, Ratatoullie, and Up)
I bet a lot of artists like me love Pixar movies. The studio has yet to make a bad flick. I attribute their success in a large part to the collaborative working environment at their studio. The environment there cultivates the creative process by making it fun to come to work. They can decorate their own offices, ride scooters through the hallways, and there is even a cereal bar where employees can go to satiate their cravings for a sugary pick-me-up. The fun they have working certainly shows through in their films. This inspires me to make work I enjoy.
6. The Bible
I’m a Christian, so this book obviously means a lot to me. What’s more, it’s full of fascinating stories ranging from the creation account in the book of Genesis to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Some of my favorite stories are, coincidentally, found in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament. This is where you can read about such popular Sunday school stories as Daniel in the lion’s den and three God-fearing men surveying a fiery furnace. These and other stories in the Bible inspire me to stand by my faith in the face of trials.
7. My Family
I realize I may not be the only one who thinks this, but my family has some weird quirks – mostly endearing, but sometimes outright strange. Most of them are hard to articulate in writing, and it’s probably for the better. Even so, my dad would always tell me, “If you’re weird, you’re normal.” I guess I agree. At any rate, my family’s quirks provide some great comic strip ideas.
8. Runners (e.g. Steve Prefontaine, Ryan Hall, etc.)
My dad first got me into running when I was in high school. I ran cross-country for two years, and I’ve been running on a regular basis since then. I also enjoy watching the professionals duke it out at track meets. Two professional runners in particular inspire me, but for different reasons. Steve Prefontaine was a track star at the University of Oregon in the seventies who always gave his all. He had an obsession with being the best, so he always pushed himself to the limit. He was also very arrogant. Ryan Hall, America’s current premier marathoner, is also a tremendously gifted athlete. Unlike Prefontaine, he is a very humble man – a professing Christian. Of the two athletes, I admire Ryan Hall more for his character, but I also admire Prefontaines ambition.
9. My Grandpa
A tenacious entrepreneur, a good businessman, and an even better grandparent, my grandpa is a continual inspiration to me and my family. I only knew him as Grandpa, but he had accomplished many great things in his life. He was a an Administrative Army/Air Force Specialist during WWII. He owned and managed various Christian bookstores. He launched a publishing company in Eugene that’s still in our family today. He even had the courage to ask my grandma to marry him. I could write a lot about him, but that would be a whole article unto itself. The fact is, he was and will always be an inspiration to everyone in my family. He passed away in February of 2010, but we will always remember his example of courage, leadership, and discipline.
10. Hand-drawn Anything
Way back in preschool, my teacher told my parents that she thought I would be an artist when I got older. She explained that I was actually taking the time to draw individual fingers on hands, whereas my peers would typically draw mittens. It turns out she was right. I really love to draw, so, naturally, I like looking at hand-drawn artwork and design. I have no favorite designers who work in this method, although I do admire the linework of cartoonists like Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), and Dan Piraro (Bizarro). There’s a blog I frequent that tends to feature a lot of hand-drawn work by many different artists. It’s called Drawn, and you can find it by clicking here.