A couple days ago I came across this video interview with Iain McCaig. A very amazing illustrator and concept artist. It's kinda long but I highly recommend watching it all.
One part that really got me thinking was when he talked about taking books with illustrations by his heroes and putting them away. It is at about 8:30 on the video.
When I watched this video I was working on some dwarf character designs for a Snow-white eBook. It was being a real struggle and I just wasn't making headway. I saw the video and realized I was guilty of exactly what he was describing. I had various books around me with drawing of dwarves by other people and was checking them out for ideas about clothes or beards, or gesture, etc. But I wasn't having any fun. (and BTW fun is the whole point of drawing a fairy tale eBook)
After watching the video I put the books away and have tried to be super conscious not to have anything like that in front of me while I am drawing. It's been a freeing experience.
I still love looking at great art I'm just not going to to it while I'm drawing any more.
Here are a couple of the drawings I did. They are not yet the finished designs but they feel more alive than my first attempts.