Tuesday, December 28, 2010


By Justin Gerard

Every now and then I get asked what I do for inspiration. Some mistakenly believe that I torment my sister's cat for inspiration. Others believe that I methodically hunt down and destroy endangered species. And still others suspect that I build giant robots and plan an invasion of Mars.

I assure you this is not true. I like good music and fine literature.
But even more than music and literature, I find that camping trips provide some of the best inspiration.

Some might say; yes, but don't you spend most of a camping trip fighting mosquitos, rain, fires that won't start and equipment failure all while being completely lost? And don't you spend most of your mental energy panicking about wether you will even survive this day because you have not exercised in a month and have been living on chic-fil-a?
And well yes, this is all true. But there are brief moments on these trips that make the whole experience worth the overall misery of it. When it is all said and done, I tend to forget how terrible it was, and how we almost killed each other that time the campstove broke, and I am left only with the impression of the spectacular views and the warmth of sun after being freezing and the taste of food after being starving.

Apart from being inspired by the raw beauty of the planet, hiking gives a person a chance to be alone with their thoughts in a place where they cannot help but feel small and cannot help but appreciate what they have. There is something about being freezing, and having to wrestle with building a fire and putting up a tent in the snow that suddenly turns a simple, everyday thing like a warm shower into one of the greatest technological wonders of all time.

I always bring a hardback sketchbook with me on these trips, and try to have easy access to it. Every time I come back from one of these trips I have hundreds of new thumbnails a ideas for new projects I want to undertake. The odd scribbles and tiny thumbnails made on the trail may get turned into something larger and they may not, but the impression of it all never quite leaves me. It will always be somewhere in the back of my head, waiting for a chance to find its way onto paper.


  1. Awesome post Justin! What other art supplies do you bring with you on your trips? I always struggle with wanting to bring too much with me. Thanks.

  2. Nothings more inspiring than raw nature, whereabouts did you go camping?

  3. Great photos..! I can see how those places are inspirational =]

  4. I rarely bring anything more than a sketchbook and a pen. I'd like to try bringing watercolors or oils at some point to do some plein air studies, but so far I have found it more enjoyable to just keep it simple.

    As for where: I love the American West, the hiking out there is spectacular. The photos here are from places like the Alpine Lakes, Glacier National Park, Zion National Park and Big Sur.

  5. Gorgeous photos! You take pictures like paintings. I look forward to your Martian landscapes.

  6. Ah, I love hiking and camping! It really is inspiring to and humbling to spend some quality time with nature. I can't even tell you how much this post makes me want to run off into the woods and "rough it". ;)

  7. Going out into the world is a necessary part of charging your creative batteries. My own comics, Sunnyville Stories, sometimes take place in the wilderness so I do go out into the woods to snap reference photos, get plein aire sketches, or just go exploring. Another handy tool besides a sketchbook (and maybe a camera) is to have a tape recorder or digital audio recorder. If you think of an idea, just speak into the recorder. Think how many ideas you can cram onto a sixty minute recording space.

  8. There's no artwork like Earth!

    Earth is the most beautiful sculpture we'll ever see :-D

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