Finding Inspiration

One of the requirements for working in the creative industry is finding inspiration. It’s the golden ticket to help you through a tight deadline or drive forward with a project you’re just not sure how to tackle.

As a designer, I often feel that my ability to perform my best is down to being inspired. But the hard truth is that inspiration doesn’t come suddenly in a flash. It’s a craft that you must nurture and care for. Unfortunately, it can certainly go away in a flash, so learning how to find it and how to keep the creative mind topped up with a backlog of ideas is an important skill to have. I’d like to outline a few of my go to sources and daily practices for finding and keeping the all important inspiration.

"Finding Inspiration" - Illustration by Monica Giunchi

Websites

Websites are quick and easy sources that are constantly updating and providing new, never before seen material. Sites such as Smashing Magazine, Creative Bloq, and Wired have thousands of articles on trends, inspiration and creative musings. Sites like these form part of my daily ritual to find out what the creative industry is talking about and often provide me with some unexpected inspiration before I start working.

When I need some more immediate inspiration I turn to sites like Dribbble and Behance. This is more for the graphic designers out there, these are packed full of other creatives showcasing their work. A quick search for a related term or just browsing the top posts is almost sure to jog your mind into inspired mode.

Activities

Social media sites and apps are amazing places to take on challenges from other creatives. Running this month you can take part in #inktober taking abstract concepts and transforming them daily into ink drawings or hand lettering. It’s challenges like this that force you to step out of your comfort zone and to be inspired by what you and others create. Activities aren’t just restricted to social media, hundreds of cities across the world have numerous meetups for creatives. Whether it’s attending a short story reading, a design talk, or a foreign language practice group. There’s people out there to meet and inspiration to be found.

Media

This one may seem obvious but consume all the media you can, be it books, magazines, movies, TV shows, music, or podcasts. Try to be critical about the media that you consume: what do you enjoy, why do you like it, what else is there that’s as good or better than it? I’m quite proud of being critical of the media I consume. It’s the ability to criticise the movie I just saw, or the book I’m reading that translates into my own work and makes me critical of everything I do and inspires me to do better.

Other Tips

"Sketching" - Illustration by Monica Giunchi

Don’t be afraid to experiment, make mistakes and strive to fix them. Get a notepad and doodle mindlessly in your next meeting or long phone call with your parents. Write a blog post rant or a silly quote on a post it note and stick it to your computer screen. This can work as a good warm up to when you might need to get on and create something with no time to go out and find inspiration. It’s like creative push-ups for the mind, without the sweaty armpits and guilt when you eat a biscuit straight away afterwards.

Criticism from other people is inspiring. Learn to take negative feedback of your work not as a personal affront on your inability to create something good, but as an opportunity to find out what their inspirations were, which could help you discover what they really wanted when they asked for the text to be vomit green colour.

On a recent walk-to-work, my wife and I (both designers and design fanatics) happened to start questioning how many of the big name brands we could draw from memory, this made us look at all the shop signs we were passing and not just observing the logos we saw, but properly looking. As obvious as it seems I’m not sure I could have confidently said before that Lidl’s logo has a wonky letter ‘i’, or that the Tesco logo is more red than blue. It’s easy to accept the everyday things that are shoved in our faces without truly looking, and it’s with this habit that we can turn our brains into an inspiration sponge.

"Opening your eyes" - Illustration by Monica Giunchi

I believe that finding inspiration is about opening your eyes. Do you want inspiration for writing? Pay attention not just to the plot of your favourite book but look at how the sentences are structured. Is it for a new logo? Look up on your next walk to work and see how shop signs relate to the building’s architecture above it.

Lastly, don’t wait for inspiration. Every great piece of work comes from just getting on with it. Put that idea onto paper that you just know isn’t going to work. Once it’s there you can start to fix it and the inspiration for how to do that will start to reveal itself. And if the inspiration just isn’t coming, go out and find it.

I hope that from this you can perhaps be inspired to find some of your own inspiration.

Senior UX Designer

Sutherland Labs
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