The inspiration around us

“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.” – Leonardo da Vinci.

There’s a favorite story of mine that belonged to a friend I knew while growing up.

At the time of this story, my friend’s father had just started a small advertising design studio out of Provo, Utah. With the help of a business partner, the studio began to swell and grow almost immediately.

But there was a problem with the studio, they had no name and, more importantly for a design studio, no logo.

For weeks the partners of the company ran through drawings of potential logos. They stayed up late at night trying to come up with a logo that would represent their company perfectly, but none of the ideas they came up with were good enough.

Until one day while getting out of his car, my friend’s father accidentally spilled a drink onto the warm concrete outside of the office.

When he looked down at the spill it immediately struck him. The spill had somehow splashed in a way that resembled the appearance of a wise old man, with his hands placed against his forehead as if in deep thought.

“Aha!” the father thought to himself. The spill resembled everything that the design agency wanted to portray, of knowledge and wisdom and the effort it takes to creatively work on great design. The logo that the design studio uses to this day is that of a wise old man with hands placed against his forehead as if in deep thought.

Leonardo da Vinci was right when he said that all of our knowledge (and inspiration, for that matter) begin with our perceptions. “Almost with apology, since it seemed so obvious to him, [Leonardo] advised people to contemplate the walls, clouds, pavements, etc., with the idea of looking for patterns and images to conceptually blend with your thoughts.” writes Michael Michalko on da Vinci.

Everything we see, taste, touch, smell, and hear, has the ability to inspire us. Everything from the walls around us, to the clouds in the sky, to an accidental drink spilled onto the ground, everything has the ability to inspire us, if we only make an effort to look.

Today, try seeking out inspiration in everything around you. Make an active effort to touch, smell, taste, see, and hear, at least one or two new things today. See what’s around you that you perhaps haven’t taken the time to see before, because that’s where you’ll undoubtedly find new inspiration.

Illustration by Andres Ramos.