Designers are often asked where their design inspiration comes from. It is a difficult question to answer as inspiration can vary from designer to designer and even from project to project. For me, I might gain inspiration from something a client says, or it might even be from common, everyday items that I use a million times, but suddenly see it in a new light.
Without pulling inspiration from somewhere, it can be easy to run into a creative block. These blocks can put me behind on work, and are quite frustrating. About 50% of creatives who are blocked find that studying the work of others helps to provide inspiration and enthusiasm. You can always study everyday items and designs outside of the exact type of work you do.
Here are the ways that everyday items inspire me in my design work:
Fashion is another type of design work, and I find that studying the new styles of fashion designers can provide a lot of inspiration. Each season, designers tend to stick with a particular color palette. These colors can sometimes be extremely inspiring to the online designer, too.
For example, if designers are releasing patterns of polka dots, how might you incorporate this into a design for a local clothing boutique store? Can the polka dots be faded out and placed in the background border?
If you know someone who looks put together and stylish, you can study how they bring together their overall look. How do the colors work together? Is their skin tone a factor? Some people look great in jewel tones. What patterns do they use? You can sometimes find inspiration from a simple moment when you bump into a stylish friend at the store.
Nature provides a creative landscape for inspiration for designs. When I’m particularly blocked and need to tap into my creative well, I get out of the house and go for a walk. Even better if I can get to a local state park and really experience wildlife, plants and animals.
A particularly blue sky with fluffy white clouds might inspire a design that features beautiful blues and white text. The key is to make sure the subtle shades of nature come through in your designs.
Picture the colors of a rainbow and how they all blend seamlessly. Each color is separate and yet they exist together. What a beautiful reminder of how we can blend colors and use transparency to blend two colors we might not have thought of using side by side.
Vintage Art, Prints & Stamps
Stamps are like amazing miniature pieces of art. Not long ago, I was looking at a Shirley Temple commemorative stamp I had in my desk drawer for when I need to send out a card or hard copy of something. As a freelancer, I try to make an impression from the way the envelope looks right down to the stamp and address label I use.
I like everything to coordinate on my envelopes and also on websites I design. When colors work together in a complementary way, it is visually pleasing to the user.
Stamps, posters and vintage art can provide inspiration because they show how you can make every piece of a design work together to create an overall impression. Vintage art creates an additional type of image to study and often use softer colors.
This might sound a little crazy, but fabric stores can provide inspiration as well. Not only can you find hundreds of patterns, but you can pull them off the shelf and hold them alongside solid colors to see what looks good together and what does not.
There have been many times that I was stuck over a background idea for a particular color palette and gain inspiration after a visit to the local fabric store.
Still not sure if you like the look of two colors or patterns together? Buy a small piece of each fabric to take home with you and study a bit more. Or, you may just pull them out the next time you need some additional inspiration.
Amazing buildings make us realize that it is possible to design something complex and lasting. Think about the Great Wall of China or the Golden Gate Bridge. When you feel as though your design work isn’t up to par, or you are battling with a particularly difficult piece of coding, think about these architectural feats and gain the inspiration you need to keep moving forward.
If an architect can figure out how to make a bridge span across a body of water, surely you can figure out how to make a website form bend to your will.
As you can see, simply by taking the time to study the world around you, you can come up with any number of designs. By gaining inspiration from a variety of sources, your designs will take on a unique look that sets you apart from your competition.