34 Places to Get Design Inspiration – Online and Off
Everyone who hasn’t encountered designer’s block, raise your hand. Just as I thought. Well then, chances are you could use some places to get inspiration for those days when the pixels aren’t aligned and your mouse finger isn’t clicking like it should. We’ve compiled a list, online and off to serve up everything from logos to icons to art to fashion to just inventive ideas to get your mind ticking.
So kick back and let your senses run wild as we bring you 15 websites packed full of inspiration, 10 must-have books and 9 things to do to get inspired.
15 Websites Full of Inspiration
This eZine is packed full of international design and art goodness. It’s a heavy download but well worth the effort.
10 Inspirational Books
Often the details make the design, and this book has all the little aesthetic details a designer could want.
One for the web designers! Who would have thunk it, but this is a nice little book to flip through when you’re looking for some web inspiration. You can read it on trains and you don’t need to wait for each site to load before you figure out whether you like it or not!
If you’ve ever been to France you’ll know that although you don’t often hear about it, their design is gorgeous. The work is either modern or looks like an artisan crafted it on his deathbed. We could all learn a little from the French (not least the thirty hour work week and six weeks per year paid holiday). Look at this book, drool, then inject a little French je ne sais quoi into your work.
My father always said to me – if you don’t know you’re art history you’re constantly reinventing the wheel. As usual, he was right. If you’re feeling stumped, grab this book (or even a book on art history), flip to a page and whatever you see there as your inspiration.
We all know the Japanese rock design socks. This book has gorgeous packaging, print and web design that will broaden your cultural horizons and get you thinking in new and exciting ways.
9 Things to Do…
- Visit an Art Gallery
Hearkening back to my father’s wise words about reinventing the wheel, a widely known cure for designer’s block is a stroll around an art gallery. Modern art gets my motor running with its bizarreness and taste for the flamboyant, but for others nothing replaces the masters.
- Check Out A Charity Store
This is a kooky one, but one of my favourites! Go to a charity store (the ones that sell second-hand things for $1 or $2) and find one thing to buy that you think is really visually interesting – it could be an old doll or the pattern on some fabric, a book or a record, whatever takes your fancy. Then upon your return back to the desk, base a design on it! This can be challenging but will force you to think outside the square.
Photograph Interesting Textures and Colours
Take your trusty digital camera and spend half an hour photographing interesting textures, objects and colours. You can do this indoors, but taking a walk might help clear your head and get you out of that office. Use your findings as inspiration or even components of your next design!
Wander Through Some Street Art
Keith Haring first showed his art on the streets of New York, so it’s no surprise that these days you can find many young artists expressing themselves in urban environments. If you live in a major city (and sometimes even smaller ones) you can find a wealth of talent and inspiration if you’re prepared to look. Take a walk around the city and see what you can find.
- Go to the Movies for Trailers and Posters
Designers are always talking during movie credits with things like “ooh I like that typeface”, “that’s a nice effect” and so on. That’s because opening credits, trailers and movies allow the lucky designers that work on them to go wild and crazy and fulfill their creative potential. Next time you’re blocked, go to the cinema. Before you go in, analyze the posters. Then enjoy the previews, viewing them from a purely aesthetic point of view of course. Finally, look at those credits. Do it without guilt because you are a freelancer! Come home with a clear head, new ideas and tax-deductible popcorn.
Go to a Record Store to Scope out Album Art
Much like our lucky friends in the movie industry, the music industry is oh so edgy and the design can be really inspiring. Remember that generally they get paid peanuts and don’t get treated very well (I speak from experience), and then go to the music store and get inspired! If you’re feeling lazy you can go through your own CD collection, unless you’re a Celine Dion and Backstreet Boys fan, in which case you should rethink.
- Visit a Foreign Food Store
If you’re involved with packaging and even if you aren’t, foreign food stores can really get the creative juices flowing. We have a huge Japanese supermarket in Sydney and the soft drink packaging alone could keep you inspired for months. Go to one and buy the most visually interesting thing you can find. Use the packaging as inspiration and then eat it if you’re feeling particularly adventurous!
- Get on a Bus and View Signage
There’s plenty of inspiration to be had on the streets of most cities but it can be rather inefficient viewing it all on foot. Since driving while getting inspiration is the cause of more road accidents than speeding, it’s probably best you do your inspiration gathering from the window seat of a bus. And if you live in a big city, this is a great excuse to get out and about and see all those areas you normally never visit. Watch out for interesting signage, posters and graphics along your way and revel in the sometimes awful and sometimes fantastic design ideas that others have had.
Wander through some Antique Stores
Antique stores have a wealth of old books and retro album art that are fantastic for getting a different perspective on your work. Most often their cheap too, so load up on them, head back to the computer and design like your grandpa.