Where to Find Design Inspiration

A lot of people have often asked me where I find the inspiration for my design work, both personally and professionally. While there isn’t some inspirational Mecca out there that holds all the answers, I tend to find most of inspiration from everyday life. My immediate environment is typically what holds the key. As a designer, I have a collection of printed materials in my apartment that I will never get rid of, An iCloud account filled with photographs I’ve taken over the years that have somehow in some way captured my attention and have in most cases, compelled me to create an illustration or design project based off of them.

When I used to work for a Promotional Products Publishing Comapny in Connecticut about 5 years ago, I often struggled with the ability to produce more than 2 concepts for any given product to present to the CEO. A co-worker asked me “Do you keep any sort of folder on your desktop with things that inspire you?” I had replied no at the time, but after having a brief conversation with him about the relevance of starting a collection of materials, color schemes, even font faces helped me realize that the reason I seemed to always under-present my options was due to the fact that I wasn’t listening to my inner artist.

Places I tend to find Design Inspiration:

1. Magazines. Pick up a magazine, look at the photos within, the layouts, the use of typography. Cut out things that inspire you.

2. Everyday Life. See a sign while walking to lunch that you really like the feel to? Snap a photo, make a mental note.

3. The Internet. A lot of the times I will browse the Internet when in the information gathering stages for a client. If I find I am stuck in which design direction to head in with their project, it helps me to Google what has been done by other designers in the particular niche already. I find that 99% of the time it gets my creative juices flowing.

4. Movies. When I see a movie sometimes, I will see an effect or style that will make me want to sit down and create an illustration or drawing that mimics the feel. For instance, I am forever inspired by the Alien movies and the general feel of the movie posters to the actual movie scenes. I draw a great deal of inspiration in my personal illustrations of Extra-Terrestrials from these movies.

5. Store Shelves. Once in a while I will see an amazing color scheme used on some packaging in my local grocery store or at the mall. I will take a photo and file it away for future instances.

As designers, it’s important for us to stay on top of design trends, to stay fresh and relevant. We are the visual voices for all branding and print materials.

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