01/26/2016 11:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Looking for Creative Inspiration? Have Fun Playing Tourist!


If you are looking for inspiration, playing tourist might be a fun place to start. Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs are all great sources. However, if you want to stir up some creative juices, a fieldtrip is better. It's more enjoyable because inspiration flows together with your experience.

Last Sunday, I decided to go out into the world. As an architect on demand, I love putting myself into other people's shoes. It was a perfect day for playing tourist. I headed out into my own neighborhood of cute cafes, unique shops, galleries, museums, and other public spaces. I set out to be adventurous and open.

I did not know what I was looking for, thus I started with a couple of manicured gardens on my street. Then, I ventured into a ceramics studio called Bitter Root Pottery on the corner of my quiet residential street and a busy urban thoroughfare. I've never been there before. Playing tourist gave me an opportunity to explore this creative hub. I even got a tour of the place. I walked out with a schedule and an inspiration to take a class.

Playing tourist means searching far and wide, discovering new things, and taking mental notes in the process


Walking by a beautiful tree with a red trunk, I thought: "What if I photograph bark?" As a result, I became drawn to various trees on the way. In the process, not to be overwhelmed, I decided to focus on palms. Nature is a true creative inspiration!


I had a destination in mind. I was walking toward LACMA. But, playing tourist means being open to unexpected. I took my time to soak in whatever came my way. I got a kick out of a sign "soulmate specialist." Hm. Then, I stumbled upon a real treasure of a vintage and retro home furnishings store TINI. The sign over their door read: "This is not IKEA." Heavenly. This is definitely a creative well, a treasure trove, and a place to come back to for inspiration.

Collecting mementos & postcards, taking pictures can be an excellent source of inspiration: the idea is to recognize and record what you respond to on a visceral level


Next, I had to check out the new façade of the Petersen Automotive Museum. Oh, I forgot to mention that a stranger on the street paid me a compliment. It made me smile. Playing tourist put me in the right mood to engage in a conversation with a security guard who stopped me from going under the "skin" of the building (see a collage of images above). I asked if he likes it and his answer was that he is paid to say he does.

As I got to LACMA and reached for a credit card in the back pocket, it was missing. I wanted to extend my membership and see Frank Gehry's exhibit. Oh well. Things like that are supposed happen when you are playing tourist. I noticed Rodin sculptures and pretended to be in Paris until I read the sign. See below:


I hope you are not getting tired of this story. I wasn't. Since I was playing tourist, I had to walk through the Grove. Sweet Rose Creamery ice cream could have been a perfect treat at the end of the 3-hour walk. Next time I'll try not to lose my money. Playing tourist afforded other rewards, though.


Alla is an architect on demand advising DIY home improvement enthusiasts online.

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