Where does design inspiration come from? For me it's not really a place as such, rather a process. I'm fully aware that this sounds like the exact kind of guffy tripe that has people thinking 'well, this guy's a bit of a tosser' but alas it's true. I often step into carving a new piece with only a vague idea of what it's going to become. Not so vague that I'm not even sure if it's going to be a vase or a bowl for example, more that the exact shape and flow of the piece remains a mystery. There are just so many variables when carving wood by hand. An intriguing knot or split might appear that either needs highlighting by becoming a key feature or being lost from the piece completely; both scenarios that would require a significant facelift. This is the main reason why commissions can sometimes prove to be tricky. When a very specific design request comes through, firstly you identify a piece of wood which looks like it will have the right size capacity and then secondly the right sort of characteristics. What can't be legislated for, especially with larger pieces, is what lies beneath the surface, the hidden gems and horrors that reveal themselves as you peel away the layers. This is the point at which you have some decisions to make. Do you force your will on the wood and rigidly remain true to the original design despite that twisted knot or do you shift the design and embrace this new treasure? Often the solution rests in the strength and trust of the relationship you have with the client!
So, getting back to 'designspiration'...of course I love looking at other peoples work and taking eliments from their creations - more often that not these arent actually fellow wood workers but potters, metal workers, weavers etc - but there's also any number of shapes that you can see just walking through a wood, over rocks or along a beach. There's inspiration to be taken from almost anywhere...and before things get any more wanky than that, that's where I'll leave it for now!