Responding to stimuli

A stimulus is something which interests an artist or designer and gives them new ideas. A stimulus can be as simple as a word or as complex as a novel, person, place or an entire culture. The plural is stimuli.

You may decide on your own stimulus, or have to respond to one that is provided.

In design work, carrying out market research might suggest possible starting points. You may also work from a source of inspiration or from a design problem as a stimulus to help you generate ideas.

Finding stimuli for expressive work

Artists can find stimuli in many places, including those outlined in the infographic below:

Inspiration - environment, music, everyday objects, film and tv, different cultures, society/politics, people, photography, literature, artists work

When choosing your own stimulus, try to do the following:

  • Select a stimulus or stimuli which will interest you over a long period of time .
  • Ensure that you have easy access to your chosen stimuli.
  • Try to choose stimuli which will allow you to work from primary sources at least some of the time, rather than relying on secondary sources.

Don't give up and select another stimulus when you encounter difficulties. You are likely to come across some challenges responding to most stimuli but keep persevering.