Hunting for Inspiration with Jason Sturgill


Introducing Jason Sturgill, an illustrator, designer and educator based in Portland, Oregon who excels at one of the most difficult tasks faced by every artist: keeping the inspiration fires burning.siamese_tigers

I’ve been watching Jason for a year or so now, and it never ceases to amaze me how often he shares either creative and fun new work of his own creation or inspired finds from one of his many estate sale explorations. That’s why I reached out to him to talk about his process of seeking out creative stimulation and applying it to his own work.

ILLUSTRATION AGE: The main thing I love about your work is that you seem to always be producing fun and inspired work on a very consistent basis. How do you keep the fires burning?

JASON STURGILL: I think it’s been a combination of several things that made me realize that constantly making work makes me a happier person. Sharing a studio space with other illustrators like Kate, Will and Alex definitely pushes me because they’re always making stuff and I see the positive effect it has on them. I also heard a great bit of advice from my friend Andrew Dickson who once said something to the effect of, always have multiple projects going on at once so if several things don’t work out you’ll have other projects to keep you motivated. Self initiated projects are really important to me for this reason. Teaching has also played a big part in keeping me on my toes and feeling the need to always be challenging myself to work outside of my comfort zone.cheetochan_london poler_stuffIA: In addition to watching you share new work, I also really enjoy it when you share your most recent finds from estate sales and other places (old artsy packaging, signage, etc). Could you tell us about your process for seeking out these items and how they inform and inspire your own work?

JS: The thing I love about going to estate sales and looking through the basement corners of libraries is that there is a greater chance of a real discovery. It’s totally that thrill of the unknown, and the opportunity to truly be surprised by something that hasn’t already been pinned on Pinterest 125 times. I’m a big fan of Austin Kleon’s TedX talk for “Steal like an Artist” where he talks about how nothing is created in a vacuum, you have to have input to create output. Garbage in, garbage out and all that.¬† If we’re all looking at the same inspiration we’re all going to be creating similar work, that’s why trends happen and why you see the same ideas coming from all corners of the world. People are all looking at the same stuff. I make a¬†conscious effort to be looking for inspiration everywhere you think you wouldn’t find it.kilroy_design_week_portlandIA: How would you compare the use of art and illustration in old retro packaging vs. that which we see today?

JS: I think the playful packaging of yore represented a simpler time when the world wasn’t so serious. As a global community we now have an all seeing eye that is constantly being fed devastating and tragic news 24/7.widmer_beerIA: I believe that you are at least somewhat connected to the local Portland, Oregon art scene. What has been your experience of that and how has it affected your work?

JS: It’s hard for me to imagine what type of person I would be if I hadn’t spent my whole life in this region. I wouldn’t be making work if it weren’t for the decade I spent curating shows in Portland of both local and international artists who later on gave me the courage to find my own voice. I would argue that it’s less of an art scene here and more of an art community. I would add that as an answer to how I stay inspired as well, the community is constantly coming together to celebrate each others work and to make work together.oregon_humanities_editorial_illoIA: Any advice for our fellow artists who might be all dried up in the inspiration department?

JS: Stay curious and be a fan of something outside of art. Make work about those discoveries and passions and you’ll never be at a loss for content.Special thanks to Jason Sturgill for taking the time to share his work and his thoughts on inspiration. You can see more of his illustrations at


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3 Comments on “Hunting for Inspiration with Jason Sturgill”

  1. May 6, 2015 at 6:58 am #

    awsome !

  2. May 9, 2015 at 6:38 am #

    Reblogged this on i_am_idris_olumide.

  3. inaguya
    May 12, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    awesome indeed


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