Ever find yourself in a creative block, and in desperate need to keep your ideas fresh and original for your projects? Need some inspiration?
We know it all too well. You are dealing with deadlines, demanding clients, it’s the end of the year, and you need a strong dose of new inspiration to make sure your ideas stay fresh and original. Coffee definitely isn’t helping, and nor is your overwhelmed and uninspired attitude. Don’t waste your time banging your head over your Wacom – find new and constructive inspirations for your graphics. Here is a list to help.
First things first:
Before you start your creative process, zero in on the purposes behind your graphics adventure. Ask yourself these questions:
What do you want to achieve with this particular project or range of projects?
Which messages need to be conveyed?
Who is your audience, and how are your messages being communicated to them? Print or online?
Is there a brand direction? Specifics, restrictions, guidelines?
We ought to have our head on straight before we let our creative juices run wild. These questions help to create that framework so your inspiration process and adventure stay on task.
01. Inspiration Platforms
We are constantly on social media nowadays, so why not use it to our benefit? Start by following hashtags that relate to you and your industry. Need some help? Click here and check out this fantastic source of top social media hashtags trending now among designers.
Too lazy to go through that list? Here is a shorter, but just as important list: #graphicdesign, #design, #art, #graphic and #typography.
Do not dismiss platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr, which are some of the biggest and fastest-growing image-based social media platforms that are absolutely great sources for finding inspiration online. Not only are these platforms packed with stunning photography and design work, they are really easy to use and search for all sorts of design work that are beautiful and inspirational.
So don’t miss out. Set up those accounts, and let your eyes feast on logo designs, blog graphics, color schemes … the list is practically endless. Also, don’t forget to save those pins and repost those grams, so that you can always refer back to them when you need.
02. Rip out those magazines
An oldie but a goodie. Design-related magazines are fun and fantastic for visual inspiration. If you can’t get your hands on print versions, find some online.
We all love those shiny, glossy pages but it does tend to add up when you have too many subscriptions. And ripping out those beautifully designed and well-printed pages can be soul-crushing. This is why online magazines offer easy ways to save clippings and survey layout, color palettes, and fonts.
Keep these on record by posting on your Pinterest boards for yourself and for other designers who also want inspiration. Here is a great source with 42 free online magazines.
Here is our shortlist:
03. Organise your collections
Now that you have lots of inspiration sources, you need to keep them organised for future reference. You can always bookmark websites, but what’s even better is to pin images to Pinterest boards. Pinning images is a more visually attractive way to organise your inspirations, where the images you pin are listed on separate boards. Bookmarking sites is a little cluttered, and text heavy, which is hard to sift through when you need visual inspiration. So go ahead and create separate boards for different categories of inspiration, such as layouts, typography, and branding. If you are looking for ways to set up your Pinterest boards, here is mine.
Other great tools for organising collections include Evernote, which is a great virtual notebook for clippings, notes, and for creating to-do lists and integrating calendar items. If scrap-booking on Evernote isn’t your style, go a little more old-school but instead of saving those images onto your harddrive, save it on cloud drives such as Google Drive, where you can create folders and save documents, images, notes, etc all under your Google account. This can help in keeping those saves and finds for further reference.
04. Online tools
Find on-trend inspiration with free and useful online resources that let you play with colours, typography, and layouts. Check out Colour Lovers and Kuler for colour palettes and current colour schemes, and to see where and how they are being used.
Other cool sites for your to check out that are so fun, appropriate and useful for your inspiration-adventure are websites like Designspiration and DesignTAXI. Of course there is Canva as well, which is one of my favorites – a great website for you to drag and drop, experiment with colors, typography, layouts and much more.
05. Keep exploring
Sometimes, our inspiration adventures are more specific than just browsing around. Here are a few specific sites that specialise in fields like photography, graphics, and mockups.
For photography inspiration and free photography downloads, check out Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, StockSnap.io, Burst by Shopify, FoodiesFeed. Or check out this awesome blog post on 21 Amazing Sites with Breathtaking Free Stock Photos
For mockups, check out Mockup World
06. Make some friends
Get together with designers and creative people out there. Mobile apps like Shapr are great for finding creative designers and professionals out there who are willing to meet up for coffee, lunch or just walks to discuss ongoing projects, as well as for brainstorming and talking about your challenges.
You might chance upon some great advice, or better yet, a solution because they’ve been there, done that.
Find a coworking space in your area, and get yourself a membership. Coworking spaces are great places to network and to iron out idea-blocks. People from all professional backgrounds are members at coworking spaces, and you will also find great talks, presentations as well as idea brainstorming sessions that are catered to your needs.
Just talking through the difficulties of a job can lift the weight from your shoulders, leaving you refreshed and ready to approach a task from a new angle.
07. Make it a routine
Sometimes, all you need is a routine where creativity is part of your everyday task. Whether it’s writing, drawing, playing music or designing, setting aside time in your daily routine is a great way to focus on your creative outlet. Pick a distraction-free space and time each day.
Sometimes playing those video games in story mode, can be a very inspirational, relaxing break from technical work.
08. Find the artist in you
Make a date with art. Get out of your work space, and head to a gallery or music event, or even a sculpture walk. All of these can boost your inspiration and help you stay in touch with your cultural side.
09. Fresh air
Obvious, but necessary. Whether it’s a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood or a 1-hour stroll through a park, fresh air is so important in our daily schedule. Sometimes all it takes is sitting under a beautiful tree and some people-watching to alleviate unwind.
These are all great ways for you to spice up your creativity. And now it’s your turn to make your creativity work for you. Start small, and with something you enjoy doing. Personally, I start with video games and then work my way down the list of things I enjoy, saving least favorite ones as last resort. Good luck!