How to find design inspiration
February 4, 2022

The great abyss of online inspiration:

If you’re a creative, then you know that sometimes our clever, imaginative (and often crazy) ideas and thoughts dry up. We can sometimes get stuck in a rut with a complete lack of imagination and vision. And when your livelihood depends on your brain being artistic and creative all the time, that can be pretty scary. It’s important to have ways to reignite that creativity and to find inspiration again for new and interesting designs. 

So, here’s a couple of tips and tricks from us to you on how to find inspiration and reignite your creative genius!

There is sooo much on the internet and on social media that can help with that creative block. And yes, we are totally telling you to step away from the work for a second and start scrolling. Social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest have a whole lotta design inspiration to look through – just be careful not to get stuck there for 3 hours looking at the pretty stuff. 

There’s also tons of websites and blogs that designers and creatives can visit for inspiration, or even just to check out all the cool stuff that people make. Here’s a couple that we found helpful. 

Panda

Design Taxi

Abduzeedo

TDB – The Design Blog

Awwwards

Designinspiration

The Blog of Mr. Cup – Graphic Exchange 

Some general tips that you may have heard before:

Be unselfconscious

Cause that’s just so easy right? No we know, but hear us out. What we mean when we say be ‘unselfconscious’ is that no idea is a bad idea. We know you’ve definitely heard that one before and we also know that there certainly are bad, terrible, awful ideas. BUT! It’s important for us to voice those bad ideas and get them out of our heads to make room for the good ones. Don’t be worried about the idea not being ‘good enough’, who cares? Then you don’t have to use it. So write down all those terrible ideas and a good one is bound to come out too. You never know if one bad idea plus another mediocre idea could combine to be an awesome idea. (Wow, we said idea a lot there.) Let the bad ideas flow – be unselfconscious!

Keep track of your ideas

Ever had a multi million dollar idea only to have it vanish because something else grabbed your attention. Well same, and it hurts. This is your sign from the universe to WRITE IT DOWN! The great idea, the fleeting thought and even just the “hmmm that would be pretty cool” moments. Put it on your desk pad, or on the notes on your phone, write it on your hand (and then never ever wash it). 

And oh my gosh, do not get us started on those award winning, I’m going to be famous thoughts that conveniently come to us as we’re falling asleep only for them to be wiped from our memory (presumably by aliens that exist among us and use them for themselves). So our advice would be to keep a notepad next to your bed so you can jot down those crazy cool thoughts and become the next billionaire (or just have a very happy client, either way). 

“When I’m brainstorming a new design I rarely start on my computer – I scribble on paper. It means I have a bunch of loose paper lying around all the time but atleast I am getting the idea out of my head and I’m not restricted digitally. “

– Kayla Manfredo, Co Owner and Head Designer 

Collect inspiration 

A really great way to make sure you have a constant supply of inspiration is to collect the things that you find interesting and inspiring. Start a google drive or just a folder on your laptop with all the things that make your brain smile. Then whenever you get a bit stumped, or the creative juices begin to dry up a bit – go have a look at all those designs and pieces of writing, websites, music – literally anything that makes the designer and creative in you come alive.

Don’t be afraid of trial and error

We often do ourselves the disservice of not pursuing an idea because we think we can’t pull it off or we’re scared to try and fail. But we’re here to say – just try it! You probably will fail, it will probably take you a good couple of tries before you get it right but it will feel so good when you do! And even if it doesn’t work out, at least you know you tried.

Take a break

‘Take a break? I’m trying to get my brain to work, not shut down completely!!’. We hear you, sometimes taking a break is really difficult especially when you’re on a deadline and the creative juices ain’t flowing. But it’s sometimes the best thing for you! Think about your mind as a muscle – if you do a million bicep curls at some point your arm is going to give up and the only way you’ll be able to do another is if you put down the weight, give it a break and shake it out. So treat your brain the same way! Take the much needed break.

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem.”

– Hilary Mantel

“I like to get into the garden and look at the roses…. or I go on Facebook (but we don’t talk about the Facebook one). “ – Kayla Manfredo Co Owner and Head Designer

Make decisions

“Kill your babies” is a term used by writers (and not psychopathic maniacs as you may have thought). Though it sounds pretty gruesome it just means that sometimes we have to remove the cracking jokes or beautiful metaphors from a piece because it just doesn’t fit. It’s the same for any idea or creation. If it doesn’t add to or benefit the final piece – you’ve got to make the tough decision to take it out. 

We wouldn’t throw it away forever though – put it aside for safekeeping and bring it out when you find something that it does suit.

Look outside for inspiration

We tend to get stuck looking at designs for inspiration hoping that we’ll get a design idea. But, it can be really helpful to take a break from looking for inspiration in the same field you’re working in. Try looking at things outside of design and you’ll be amazed by how inspired you can be from your surroundings. We quite like the idea of using the five senses to focus your search for inspiration and really observe the world around you. 

Touch

Get tactile. Take a break from looking for inspiration online and look through a design magazine. Sometimes being able to touch and turn pages can make you take in the designs a bit more. Tear out the pages you like and stick them in a scrapbook or on the walls  around your work station. Also begin to notice the textures of surfaces; the roughness of a tree, the smoothness of your coffee cup, the way that the grass feels on your bare feet. Write down words that come to mind or sketch little images of how the textures make you feel. 

Taste

Yeees, taste. Try to imagine what colour your food tastes like, think of the different textures of your food. If you close your eyes and imagine something while eating something delicious – what do you see? (This gets us thinking about this scene from Ratatouille) Sketch it or make a little doodle. Even the layout of a fine dining food can be so inspiring for design. 

Sound

Listen to music, to nature, to conversations, to the rhythm of traffic or the hum of a busy coffee shop. How would you convey that sound through your craft? 

“Right now we are particularly fond of AJR for inspiration because they’re a band that makes fantastic and relatable music by taking inspiration from the sounds they hear around them” 

Kayla Manfredo Co Owner and Head Designer 

Did AJR read this blog? … Perhaps

Smell 

Smell can be super powerful when we pay attention to it. We tend to make connections through smell, we have memories attached to certain smells. Allow your thoughts to run when you experience a new or memorable scent, and jot down what comes to mind. 

Sight

Think outside of looking at different designs! Notice the way colours blend together in flowers or the different shapes and colours of people’s eyes – notice how it’s the little things that make things look so different. Look at architecture and interior design! 

The thoughts and sketches you collect may not help you immediately but it keeps your mind active and your creativity flowing. And later on you might find one of these ideas or thoughts fits perfectly for a project you’re working on. 

We hope you can implement some of these methods the next time you have a creative block or need some new and exciting inspiration. There’s nothing quite like finding designs and creative pieces that make your artistic brain and heart smile! 

Happy Creating!

Kayla Manfredo

Author

Kayla is our head designer and blog post gal. She works hard every week to bring you new and exciting posts along with Vanessa, who talks about marketing, and Mirko, who talks about buisness.

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