Over the years, I have been inspired, encouraged and amazed by a number of venerable creators - people who produced some greatness in some way, shape, or form, people whom I consider literal muses. I didn’t find them all at once, and I am certain I’ll find many more in the future that I am completely unaware of now. Amongst so many, there are of course some of the more usual muses - the varicolored painter Vincent Van Gogh, the brilliant polymath Leonardo DaVinci, the gifted physics theorist Albert Einstein and the scintillating musical composer Ludwig Von Beethoven are all popular prime examples of the like. But there are endless sources of inspiration out there, too numerous to count with one’s fingers and toes, that’s for sure. As a small token of appreciation for the lights and lanterns that have guided ME personally throughout my journey through the creative terrain of existence, I present the following (partial) list of MUSES who have positively influenced me & my creativity. Some of them have been with me for longer than others, but all of these muses are precious to me & continue to affect me through the sheer power of their mastery and genius:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Activist and Spokesperson for the American Civil Rights Movement
I first learned about Dr. King in early grade school, yet he is as vivid in my mind now as he was then. I very much need to dive into his work, since it has been quite a while since I have studied any of his magnificent works in depth. Here and there I’ll hear snippets of quotes from his speeches, but that’s not nearly enough to understand the greatness of the man himself. My favorite aspect of Dr. King is his unwavering and contagious dedication to the well-being of the Black community as a whole. Dr. King is why I’ve never felt inclined toward racist thought patterns, because even though he was murdered long before I was born, he still managed to educate me about love and compassion for my fellow Black and Brown human beings. I cannot thank him enough for this, and I wish very much that Dr. King was still alive with us today.
Sugar Artist, Fine Art Cake Decorator
When I discovered Margaret Braun’s cakes around 2002, I was in awe of her ability to transform sugar into artwork- and a career. I was accustomed to seeing cakes at the grocery store and in magazines, where the most beautiful cakes I had ever seen were white wedding cakes. But Braun took her cakes to a whole new level of aesthetic quality- her cakes were genuine works of fine art, each and every one of them. And although I couldn’t taste them through their photographs, I got the impression that they tasted as wonderful as they looked. I was amazed to see that Margaret molded her creations from cake, frosting, and fondant, and that she actually painted them with an excellent use of food coloring. Edible metallic powders gave her pearls, scrolls & stars a majestic luminous glow- additionally, these design elements have continued to influence my own artwork throughout the years. Margaret’s grand, beautiful cakes, often colorful yet always magical, inspired by fine art, history & emotions, have helped open my eyes to what is possible within the realm of art. Her beautiful book, Cakewalk, is one of my favorite books I have ever come across in my life. I take a peek at it sometimes when I need a little inspriation or a fresh perspective of my own work.
The Toballs of Duirwaigh.com
Traditional & Digital Artist Duo
I fell in love with the Toballs’ special slice of the web when I first saw it back around 2009. They are a husband-and-wife artistic team that specializes in creating beautiful, lush graphics, and they genuinely care about the creativity of common people. I admitedly spent hours studying their website design, which is downright breathtaking. Their imagery is rich with color, collage art, and mystic design. I could kill to have a gorgeous studio like theirs to create within. Angie’s true personal story of Zeus the Mouse is heartbreakingly cute as she shares the experiences in words and even more adorably captured in photographs. They are literally my muses and the main inspiration behind Celestial Pearl’s website design.
Walt Disney of The Disney Company
Animator & Businessman
Disney’s mass media has been in my life for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’ve become obsessed with The Walt Disney Company as a source of inspiration both business & creative. Disney has become a cultural phenomenon, and it is all thanks to at least one man who gave his name to this famous company. Walt Disney sounds like he was really something else back in his day. He died before I was born, but the cheeriness & quality of his films as well as his expansion into theme parks are what I admire of him the most. I am especially fond of the eponymous companys brilliant use of color, form, music, graphics, emotions and body language to create memorable & meaningful characters with stories that touch both the mind and heart. No matter how old I may become, “the happiest place on Earth” will always remind me that my own dreams can indeed come true.
Fantasy Watercolor Artist
I became obsessed with the fantastic watercolor artwork of Amy Brown when I was in high school circa 2000, a time when my own artistic life was in utter turmoil. Fairies, mermaids & other mythological creatures are amongst my favorite subject matter in the world, especially when it comes to art & storytelling. I learned through studying her HUGE portfolio of paintings, that art doesn’t have to be what I consider “perfect” in order to be both stunningly beautiful and lucrative. I also learned from her that there is no ending to creativity, and in my own endeavors I am inspired by her business practices regarding watermarking and licensing her artwork. She has been one of my strongest muses for more than a decade, and I continue to feel inspired by her newest fantastical creations.
Oldschool Tim Burton & Danny Elfman duo
Filmmaker & Music Composter, respectively
This awesome creative duo was a MAJOR source of aesthetic inspiration for me in the late 90’s and first few years of the new millennium. Tim Burton’s dark imagery and fantastic stories coupled with Danny Elfman’s incredible composed music was like nirvana to me, a girl who wasn’t allowed to wear black because her parents didn’t like “dark gothic stuff”. The Nightmare Before Christmas was as close as I could get to “the gothic stuff” for a period of at least five years; I loved that movie dearly before it became a super-popular marketing spree around its 10-year anniversary in 2003. I also cherish(ed) other films created by Burton & Elfman such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, and PeeWee’s Big Adventure. I now can only fondly remember a fraction of the joy that these artists brought to me as an adolescent, but they are some of the best memories from that era of my life.
Paul Reubens of Pee-Wee Herman
Children's Show Host & Actor
I have loved Pee-Wee Herman probably since I was an infant. In other words, I’ve loved Paul Reubens for as long as I can remember. I’ve heard that I used to watch this children’s show host for hours as a child, which no doubt has fueled my passion for the bizarre from an early age. The crazy, goofy, playful, tireless, quirky & colorful personality of Paul Reuben’s character still has me transfixed to this day, as I watched several episodes years later on Netflix as an adult and realized I still love that absurdly creative show. It is also worthy to note that Paul Reubens has worked with two other of my all-time favorite muses, Burton & Elfman, a major bonus. It is interesting to note that for my entire life I’ve always wanted a house of my own, and this has no doubt been influenced by watching PeeWee’s Playhouse over and over again all those years ago.
Videogame Music Composer
Easily deserving of the nickname “Beethoven of videogame music”, it was around 1997 when I first became exposed to Nobuo Uematsu’s compelling & emotional musical scores. Final Fantasy 7 and 8 were in my possession for a brief time (7 had already been out for several years), and I adored the music of both games. I remember using a mini tape-recorder to make a recording of the music at the end of FF8, because I wanted to hear the music again and again. The encapsulation of his music was cherished for as long as the games were banned from my adolescence. Of course, I went on to play Final Fantasy 9 and 10, the last game I’ve played from that franchise, and as usual Uematsu’s musical scores were stunning. If I ever become a musician, he is undoubtedly going to be one of my greatest musical influencers.
Animator & Storyteller
There are many of Miyazaki’s films that I have not yet seen, but of the ones I have seen, I very dearly love them all. His films are magical, gorgeous, innocent, thoughtful, fantastical, and brightly-colored anime stories that practically anyone can fall in love with. My favorite, ‘Spirited Away’, is a movie I watch whenever I feel lost and need some grounding in my life, & to remember that within me lies all the answers. ‘Ponyo’ is another absolute favorite of mine, as well as ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen ‘Princess Mononoke’, I barely remember it. I want to see ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ next. I have to admit Miyazaki’s storytelling and artwork, as well as his wonderful co-founding of Studio Ghibli, inspire me greatly in my quest to create Celestial Pearl Productions.
Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails
Musician & his Industrial Music Band, respectively
I am convinced Trent Reznor is a music god. It is difficult to pinpoint when exactly I became exposed to the music of Nine Inch Nails, but I believe the first song of theirs I became secondhand acquainted with was the radio edit of ‘Closer’ around 1996-ish. This wasn’t a time of my life when it was “appropriate” for me to be listening to NIN, so it wasn’t until years later that I purposefully began to consume their discography. Even if I didn’t know all of the lyrics, I knew the music of songs like ‘Head Like A Hole’ and ‘Terrible Lie’, and cherished their beats like they were my own heartbeats. I still love listening to NIN to this day, as their music provides an exceptional sense of heavy atmosphere that I like to enjoy while I’m playing a videogame or sitting down to paint.
Marshall Mathers a.k.a. EMINEM
Rapper & Producer
There was once an era of my life when I was angry all the time. Whenever my rage became unbearably poisonous, listening to Eminem’s music always made me feel better. The violent fantasies portrayed in his music made many other people feel uncomfortable, but they genuinely helped me feel that I could channel my own dark thoughts into something creative rather than destructive - channeling them into artwork instead of crime.
Manga Artist & Author
Sailor Moon was my first introduction to anime, and ever since then I have been in love with Japanese animations & mangas. Naoko’s spellbinding manga art became an instant inspiration for me as an artist, and I remember spending hours trying to emulate her style in my own drawings.
Madam C.J. Walker
Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, & Social Activist
The hard work, philanthropy and self-made success of Madam C.J. Walker has deeply inspired me ever since the first time I heard her story. She has shown me that anything is possible if you’re willing to be patient and do whatever it takes to succeed. As one of the first female African-American millionaires to come out of America, whenever I feel like I’m spinning my wheels I remember her story and I get back to work with a smile on my face, because whatever obstacles are against me now are nothing compared to the obstacles that faced her while she was alive. I hope I can one day become even a fraction of this woman’s magnificence; she is for me a role model and she always will be.
Jim Henson died before his time, but his puppet-art legacy has burned itself into my heart from an early age. It began with the likes of characters and films such as The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal and The Labyrinth. I fell in love with the personalities of his characters because he breathed a special life into the materials with which he created his colorful creatures. I’ll never forget how he perfected an art form that computer graphics will never be able to emulate.
Artist & College Professor
I first heard of Natalie from a Salon article written in 2006, and I was instantly inspired by what I read of her. Her project ‘One Trees’, where she made dozens of genetically identical saplings & planted them in various locations around the country, is a powerful reminder to me that nurture is as large a part of the equation as nature is. Her tireless productivity and vision that inspired me then continues to inspire me today.
Author, Sex Worker, & Sex Work Activist
Years ago I came across the writings of Tara Burns in the Hobo Stripper blog when I was trying to decide whether stripping would be a good option to fund my dreams. Instead I found life advice that has helped me ever since. Although I have yet to become a fabulous stripper, I have learned much from Tara’s written word over the years. “I believe in standing up to live and sitting down to write,” she writes, and I sigh happily. Her unique view of the world has helped me understand that I’m not the only person on the planet with these thought processes, even though she & I are so different from each other. These days she is writing as a researcher instead of as a stripper, yet her work is on point as always. I hope for her continued success and wish her the best of luck in her work.
Esther Hicks & Abraham of Abraham-Hicks Publications
Inspirational Speaker, Author & Publication Company
I accidentally discovered these inspirational spiritual teachers back around 2008 when I was feeling very insecure about the direction my life was going. It wasn’t the ‘channeling’ aspect of Esther and Abraham that drew me to them, it was the things they said that made my ears perk up & continue to listen. They spoke of things I had thought only I knew about. Ever since then I have found their focus upon positivity, happiness, freedom & well-being to be refreshingly alleviating and surprisingly practical. Their words are generally soft, always loving and easy-going. I also find myself inspired by their business model. It saddens me that Jerry is no longer here, but I have a strong feeling that he is already on to better things where he’s at.
Author, Filmmaker, Poet, Playwright, & Teacher
She wrote the esteemed book ‘The Artist’s Way’, which I bought on a whim around 2007 with absolutely no regrets. I have loved this book ever since the moment I picked it up and I still read it to this day as a major source of inspiration and positive reinforcement. I cannot thank her enough for writing this book & helping me move beyond the status of “shadow artist”.
St. Nicholas (a.k.a. ‘Santa Clause’)
Patron Saint of Christmastime
I’ve always liked the idea of a genuinely jolly benefactor giving gifts away to the children of a community in need, like a living fairy godfather. The very idea deeply inspires me to this day. Although I don’t generally approve of lying to children about Santa Claus in order to ensure good behavior, I feel the story of the man behind Santa is an important one for everyone to grasp.