A Designer's Inspiration List

I was discussing with another designer the other day where inspiration comes from. For me, it's really almost anywhere or anything I might come across. I usually put a project on the back burner for a few days while I bounce ideas around. I apply my surroundings to the idea whether I'm at the grocery store or a coffee house with friends. It's sort of like a constant brainstorming session, so what sparks that main idea really varies. There are, however, more conventional ways to find inspiration. I submit to you now a list of ideas to help jump start your creativity.

Award websites. Websites like these do a great job of collecting the best of the web and placing them all into one nice list for you. There are certainly too many to name here, but some of my personal favorites are Fcukstar, My Design Award, the Favorite Website Awards, and of course New Web Pick.

Music. I can't really emphasize this enough, but for me music is a driving force behind my work. And having the right collection can really help you to push through times when a not-so-exciting project needs completion. Besides buying your music online there are several free services online that allow you to hear new music. Personal favorites include Pandora and Last.fm. Muxtape is also a great find, and it should be relaunching soon.

Bookstores. Besides looking through book covers, magazines, and yes even comic books. I once found a book of old presidential posters. I based a layout for a southwestern arena on the typography from an Abraham Lincoln poster. As an added bonus, there some bookstores sell CDs. I have found CD artwork to be a great way to keep in touch with layout and typography.

Movies and film festivals. Try and focus on camera angles and opening title sequences. Sometimes all I need is the first five minutes of a movie to spark ideas on typography treatments. Short film festivals typically showcase work that are nothing less than hidden gems. Another great find is independent movies and foreign films. A great design piece should evoke emotion without any text on the page. In other words, the layout, shading, camera angles, and coloring should set the mood before any text is even added. Now compare that to a foreign film in which you don't understand the language. Think of all the techniques used by the filmmaker to get his message across.

Museums and Art Galleries. Most creative people tend to visit these areas for inspiration, but here's a twist on how to get more from your visit. Try going with a friend who is new to the exhibit. You can get a very raw emotional experience from them simply by discussing and observing their reactions. Your own children or even a niece or nephew will also provide a new world of insight. Find out what they think and feel about the different pieces.

Something different altogether. Get yourself out of your comfort zone and you are bound to take something away from that experience. Remember, your work is a reflection of yourself and you want to have as many experiences to pull from as possible.

Add New Comment

2 Comments

  • Jim Gramata

    I think innovation and inspiration come from a variety of sources depending upon the medium of your art. Mine is architecture and while I draw from a wider pool of resources ultimately I try and reflect or produce design which is inherently cultural. While music and film and reflection are good inspirational sources for creation in the end my inspiration comes directly (or indirectly) from you or us...or the cultural driven by my driving theory of the day.

  • Rachel King

    I definitely find inspiration with music, especially when it comes to writing just about anything. I wonder if sports could also be an inspiration source. Besides the movements and styles of each game, it can help pump up a lot of energy and get your brain going.