Just like writers face writer’s block, so do designers face designer’s block. When this happens, exploring some sources of design inspiration could bring out the creative spark. Whether you are working as a web designer for a news website or designing for a logo for a startup, there will be times when you will feel stuck. The right design inspiration will help you get creative and produce great work. Where do you turn to for design inspiration? Fortunately, there are a lot of resources out there to help designers get their creative spark. Design inspiration comes in all forms, as will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
What are the best sources of design inspiration for designers and creatives?
Nature is first on this list because it provides a limitless source of inspiration. The natural world in all its beauty has had a lot of influence on several forms of design. For example, using biomimicry in product designs, the design of streamlined bullet trains based on birds. The natural world provides numerous sources of inspiration; mountains, animals, plants, birds and more. You just have to be observant and draw inspiration from the patterns, colors, textures, and layouts present in the natural world. Next time you are outside, pay attention to the natural elements and see what nature tells you.
Sometimes, all you need is a new view. So pack up your bags, jump in a car/plane and journey to a new place. The imagery of the places you visit could be very impactful. Although it’s very easy to find pictures and videos of other locations online, these may not be very effective. Simply traveling to a new place is not enough. You have to immerse yourself in its culture, geography, and people. These will influence you and help broaden your mind, sparking your creativity.
You may decide to travel solo or with company. Either way, strive to step out of your comfort zone and engage in new experiences. Be spontaneous and book a last-minute flight to a place that you didn’t plan on visiting. While doing this, take note of everything, even the smallest details: the color of trees, the texture of the car seen or the sound of car tires on tarmac. Your inspiration could come from anything and anywhere. Traveling also expands your mind’s visual library. even if you don’t get the creative spark during the journey, you may look back on the travel memories years later for inspiration.
3. Stores and markets
Markets/stores, no matter how big or small, are beautiful in their own way. There, you can find design inspiration in the most unlikely ways. If you have a project in mind, you can easily make connections and get inspired. Antique stores are particularly beautiful because they receive little attention. All those forgotten products from the past could open your mind to several possibilities; products with different shapes, old designs, typography and more. Don’t limit yourself to physical stores and markets. Digital stores could spark your imagination as well.
Etsy is a widely-known e-commerce website with an array of artisan and handmade products. According to Chad Michael, an award-winning branding, packaging, and product designer:
“Etsy is a great one to find packaging pieces that the world has forgotten about and that many have not yet seen. Finding inspiration that is old yet new to the eyes can really get the inspiration moving. I typically search for antique packaging, ephemera, and do prop hunting for the studio’s product photoshoots.“
Consider this: Nike Air trainers were inspired by architecture, particularly French Structural Expressionism. The buildings surrounding you, ranging from the tallest skyscraper to the smallest hut, are good sources of design inspiration. Notice their shapes, colors and other features. You may also want to look up pictures of popular buildings from the internet. Or if you can afford it, you could travel to see these buildings in person.
5. Friends, families, and acquaintances
When doing solo design work, it’s normal to sometimes go for a day without talking or connecting with anyone. Sometimes, It is a good idea to break your concentration and meet up with friends and family. Visit your parents for dinner, meet up with your friends for lunch or meet up with a love interest on a coffee date. The conversations you have with other people could be very impactful and inspiring.
You’ll be surprised at how much talking with others can broaden your mind and give you a new outlook on life. If you feel comfortable doing it, you could start conversations with random strangers you meet. Who knows what information they’ll be willing to share? If you’re an introvert, you may prefer to use social media as a platform to discuss with other people. People who are well-traveled and have unique life experiences could tell you their stories, serving as sources of design inspiration.
7. A walk
Whether you live in a bustling city or remote village, a walk is one of the easiest ways to get design inspiration. Often, we only walk with a destination in mind, such as to a place of work, school or to visit a friend. It’s about time you consider a walk with no destination in mind. Just take a trip down the street, just for the fun of it. If you live in a city, a walk will inspire you with all the architecture, ranging from the sidewalk to skyscrapers.
Also, staying updated about current affairs and pop culture could come in handy. Pay attention to the people on the street, the clothes they are wearing and the books they are reading. Even something as plain as a traffic light or crosswalk could be great sources of design inspiration. Sometimes, don’t limit yourself to only watching, and touch whenever you can.
A 2014 Standford University study showed that walking increased creativity by 60%. Whenever you feel stuck, step out of your home or office and go for a walk. Alternatively, you can go on a bike ride or car ride while looking through the window. Whatever the case, try to soak in the environment as much as possible.
Unbeknownst to a lot of people, Pinterest is a gold mine for design inspiration. Pinterest is similar to Instagram, allowing users to view, add and share images and videos. Every designer should strive to integrate Pinterest into their daily inspiration. You can find beautiful designs in the form of architecture, illustration, photography, logos and more. Just like Instagram, Pinterest could become addictive with the amount of inspirational stuff it contains.
There is more to Instagram than sharing pictures for your friends and family. Instagram is a great website for design inspiration. As a designer, it is a good idea to create an Instagram account. You should follow other designers, using their work to expand your personal/professional taste. Don’t limit yourself to following only designers. Check out memes, celebrities, authors, and others. You never know what could spark your creativity.
Instagram also permits you to save pictures and videos to your collection. Instagram is one of the good sources of design inspiration, even in the form of old work from different decades, helping you get influenced by design which is not currently trending.