The Oatmeal on Inspiration

I’m a big fan of The Oatmeal, an online webcomic/blog by artist Matthew Inman. It’s a hilarious website with original comics. It’s not a regular webcomic like xkcd, but more of a random assortment of funny ideas that float through Inman’s head. (In that regard, it’s an inspiration for this blog, which is about whatever idea comes to my mind.)

Creativity = Breathing

Quaker Oats / The Oatmeal logo mashup

Saul Bass’ famous rendition of the Quaker Oats logo, redone with The Oatmeal‘s style.

Recently, Inman posted a comic comparing creativity to breathing. It’s a simple idea. Being creative is like exhaling. And like exhaling, you can’t do it forever. You also have to inhale. Creative inhalation involves things like reading or enjoying the outdoors. To the outside observer, it looks an awful lot like slacking, and there’s a thin line between passively consuming media and being artistically inspired.

(On a side note, the word “inspiration” comes from the Latin word inspiro, meaning to breathe in. Matthew Inman is not the first person to think of this; he just reinforces a very old concept.)

Reason or Excuse?

Though I feel motivated, part of me feels like this breathing metaphor is just a bunch of excuses. Maybe so. But if it can make me feel better about neglecting my website for the better part of a year, I’ll take it. Inspiration is a fickle thing. Most of the time, working hard on an idea inspires me to come up with even more ideas. But every once in a while, a break can help too.

What do you think of The Oatmeal‘s take on creativity? Let me know in the comments.

Steve Lovelace

Steve Lovelace is a writer and graphic artist. After graduating Michigan State University in 2004, he taught Spanish in Samoa before moving to Dallas, Texas. He blogs regularly at

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