"You're the Inspiration"

Thank you, Chicago, for some really true words about how I feel about inspiration sites. Pinterest, tumblr, Behance, designspiration, and even Google Images (only when I'm desperate). These resources are like my lifeblood. But that needs to stop.

Good designers don't rely on other designers' work for inspiration. Why limit yourself to one kind of creativity? Open your mind and see what comes to you during your exploration. Think of what possibilities are out there to discover.

Why step out of your inspiration comfort zone? Because if we all keep being "inspired" by the same stuff, all our work is bound to look identical in one way or another, and that's no longer creativity. Here are some of the new sources of inspiration I'm going to be trying out:

1. Music.

 Credit: digitaltrends.com

Credit: digitaltrends.com

Music is by far the most overlooked form of inspiration. It has magic powers. Music has the ability to change your mood, give you motivation, help you relax, and energize you. Listen to the lyrics, feel the beat, try to identify the individual instruments. Visualize what you're listening to. This can help spark the creative genius that's locked up inside of you. 

Hit up Spotify and make a random playlist. Heck, Spotify already made some pretty stellar working or "focus" playlists if you're too lazy to create your own. I'm guilty of loving them, so why not spread the love?

Explore different genres, but avoid the ones you really dislike. That's why you'll likely find me listening to Drake or Bruce Springsteen or Josh Groban or really anything that isn't country. I know designers have been labeled "hipster," and if this actually applies to you, maybe you'll enjoy a nice Alabama Shakes or 1975 playlist. Whatever your fancy, happy listening.

2. Fashion.

 CREDIT: you are here. 

CREDIT: you are here. 

Graphic designers can get stuck thinking graphic work is the only thing from which they can get visual inspiration. Well I'm here to help you realize that's just not true. Being a lover of fashion in name but not really in practice, I can attest to the influence fashion can have on graphic design. Just flipping through the latest Harper's Bazaar can ignite an idea.

Yes, the layout design, typography or photography may give you these ideas. But look deeper than that. What's in the photos? Other kinds of design—physical designs. Do any colors, patterns, model poses, or even overall style inspire you?

3. Art

Every designer has likely taken an art history course at some point in their life. It was possibly one of the most painful experiences of your life‚ I know it was in mine. Don't write off all art just because you haven't found your niche. Although I love the idea of Renaissance art, I can't keep myself interested without a curator telling me stories about the work.

Discover what areas of art you prefer and load up on it. Many art museums and galleries are free so you can spend all day roaming around or sitting and sketching at no cost. What media are you attracted to most? What style, what artists? Any particular movement that gets you fired up? All these questions can help you stir up some imagination.

4. Nature.


It's not a hoax. Fresh air really does clear your head. Adventuring (my word for outdoor exploring in any capacity) gets you away from staring at a screen first off. Secondly, what better than free exercise in a visually appealing environment, a refreshing break from the view of that sweaty guy on the elliptical next to you at Planet Fitness. Hit the trails, hop on a bike, climb a mountain, swim with sharks—whatever gets you out there, go do it. Moving and grooving pumps your endorphins up, which we all know from Legally Blonde, makes you a happy person. And happy people don't kill their husbands. I digress.

Adventuring gives you the chance to leave your world behind to experience the real, real world first hand. Clear your mind of all thoughts and be as present as possible. Take pictures (or selfies), sketch the landscape, or write about your adventures vividly. Your eyes will thank you for the change of scenery, trust me.

5. Science.

Scientific discoveries can be pretty motivational. People like you and me are creating cures and solutions that are changing the lives of millions of people. If that alone doesn't make you want to bust your hump, explore everything science has to offer. Yes, we chose the less logical and factual career on the spectrum, but there's a lot we can learn and incorporate into design from all branches of science. Sustainability is a huge topic for which we can use science as a resource. Even in figuring out how things function and why can help us designers in our everyday work.

I've always found anatomy and physiology intriguing, which has helped me immensely in how users would interact with my designs. So why not click on a random YouTube video about the theory of relativity and learn something that could potentially influence the way you design forever?


The next time you're feeling a little uninspired remember you have a plethora of options besides Pinterest to get those creative thoughts flowing again.