Advice from a Ryman Arts Alumna: How to find daily inspiration

By Lacey Waterman (Ryman Arts '02), Art Director and Graphic Designer

There’s tremendous pressure when you pursue a creative career to consistently deliver fresh ideas. It can be hard to stay inspired on a daily basis both professionally and personally. I think it’s important to balance client work with personal projects. ‘Projects’ makes it sound daunting, but even little things can have a huge impact. Everything from listening to a podcast, taking a walk in a new neighborhood, or committing to a daily task like Michael Bierut’s 100-day challenge, can change the way you see things and become inspiration when you least expect it.

I gather inspiration for my work through observing, documenting and collecting. Sometimes I collect tangible objects, but sometimes I collect virtually with tools like Pinterest and Instagram. This creative process stems from my childhood, where I learned to draw and paint through these processes using easily accessible household objects.


Learning to see form through housewares is where my love of flea markets comes from. I might take the train or drive a few hours to a flea market and not even take anything home. The process of traveling, browsing and observing is therapeutic for me. I became interested in using photography as a way to collect objects from flea markets like Brimfield in Massachusetts and Elephant’s Trunk in Connecticut, without actually having to own the object itself. I not only took notice of the objects on display, but also the vendors and the situations I found them in. This became a series of photographs that aim to preserve a moment in time where people and objects have come together only to part.


Everyone’s process and way of seeing is different, but we all want to be inspired. With the evolution of technology, the little things have gotten lost in the shuffle. In order to stay inspired professionally, you need to feel personally fulfilled. It’s not always easy, but just being more mindful of your time is an important part of the creative process. You’d be surprised that you might find inspiration when you least expect it. Sipping coffee while people watching, taking an afternoon walk or simply taking a step away from the computer to talk to an actual human, can all lead to unexpected inspiration, big or small.

Lacey Waterman is an Art Director and Graphic Designer currently based in New York. She has been working in both Los Angeles and New York since obtaining her BFA in Advertising from Art Center College of Design in 2008, and most recently earning her MFA in Graphic Design at Yale University in 2014

Photos from Lacey's Flea Market Series