As designers we always need inspiration to get out of a creative rut, or simply to stay ahead of the game when it comes to the latest and greatest in the design world.
Our jobs aren’t easy, despite what your cousin or best friend think. Real designers actually do a lot more word than non-designers can imagine. From getting inspired by an object, place or circumstance to sitting down and developing these random thoughts into tangible bits of artwork, it takes focus, creativity and knowhow to bring ideas to life. Not to mention having to take into consideration a whole slew of parameters such as target-market, client’s own taste and limitations posed by existing collateral.
So what are the best and most common ways to get inspiration? Who do you turn to when the tank’s almost empty, but you need to push to get a project done? You don’t have to go far at all.
In my 15 years as a designer, and having worked on projects from the small one-person proprietor to the Fortune 500 client, one thing is clear. Unless you’re that one in a million genius that just randomly has visions of greatness every hour of the day, for the most part the rest of us need some help getting there. Add a deadline to the mix, and now we become desperate.
Creative blocks are the worst, but when I’m in a middle of one of these, I quickly turn to the other creative disciplines to push me in the right direction.
While some so called designers choose the non-ethical route of copying someone else’s work and passing it as their own, real designers like you and I who respect our industry and our clients look for other ways to make that light bulb go on.
Having said that, here is my list of inspirational things that get me back on track.
1. Interior Design. As strange as this may sound when you’re pulling your hair out to get a brochure to look just right, browsing through an interior design magazine or taking a stroll in the lobby of a high-end hotel has often helped me have my “ah ha” moment. By really paying attention to some of design details, colors, and accents, I have miraculously gone from medically brain-dead to a genius in a matter of a few minutes. Interior designers are amazing at pairing up objects and utilizing space and color creatively to solve problems. By carefully studying these well-crafted solutions, you too can begin to realize more creative ways to design your brochure.
2. Photography. Sitting in front of my computer and staring aimlessly at my computer monitor when I should be designing a website is something that I’ve faced numerous times. Where do I start? How do I make this look different than anything else I’ve done? While I have my notes, flow-charts and other tidbits of information ready to go, creating that compelling home page often is the biggest hurdle. For this reason, I’ve often turned to photography books in an attempt to get inspired by not just the colors, lighting and shades, but by how the photographer has captured the subject matter in a creative and telling fashion. Often times these very photos become the starting point of my project, where a compelling photo that’s just right serves as the cornerstone for the rest of the site.
3. Fashion Design. Growing up with an artistic mother who was a fashion designer, I’ve always appreciated textures, colors and smooth lines on clothing, especially the high-end stuff displayed to the world during New York’s infamous Fashion Week. If you’re ever short on design ideas for that logo you’re designing, just flip through a fashion magazine to view the most amazing color combinations, interesting lines, and cohesiveness of parts that work great together.
4. Architecture. Similar to the above, architecture is a huge source of my personal inspiration when I’m designing. Fortunately, I’m always carrying my digital camera with me, and when I’m on vacation or just headed to a meeting in the city, I stop at interesting places along the way to take photos of buildings, doorways, arches, and bridges for that frustrating day back at the office when nothing goes my way. Next time you’re in a rut, look at some architectural magazine or flip through photos of amazing buildings. Draw inspiration from the colors, textures, tones and shapes. Really study a building from top to bottom and observe the uniqueness of all its smaller elements, working together seamlessly to create an awe-inspiring creation.
I’m sure there are a million other ways to get inspired, but for me, looking through other artists’ creations is all I need to get motivated. After all, we’re all in the creative field, posed with the same types of challenges, looking for unique answers.