As a designer, there is always pressure to think outside of the box and create something original and new. This can be exhausting, especially when designing in a time crunch. So here is the secret to moving past a creative roadblock…steal inspiration from everywhere!
This isn’t new, every designer knows this, but it is nice to be reminded of it every once in a while. Because while you’re sitting there trying to force your brain to spontaneously create a new concept, the answer may actually be right in front of your face.
For example, I am sitting at my desk right now, here are five things I could steal design inspiration from:
- The grid on my calendar
- The green hues from multiple plants
- The unique texture of a piñata (Yes, there is a piñata in our office. No, I’m not sure why.)
- A retro 50’s style meme posted at a coworker’s desk
- The color blocking pattern on an old glue stick
When designing an exhibit, it can be far too common to simply turn to other exhibits for inspiration, but if what we’re after is something that has never been seen or done before (at least in an exhibit) it can be more useful to look outside the exhibit world. Restaurants, movies, theater, fine art, nature, books, music, other decades, and on and on are all great resources. Be that obnoxious friend who pulls their phone out at dinner to snap a photo of the restaurant’s menu design. Be the person we all envy who takes the time to sketch in the park. Pause while cleaning up a spill (but not for too long) to analyze its unique shape. Design lives in all of our surroundings and it can be manipulated and reinterpreted to create entirely new design elements. These elements are the building blocks to create something that is “outside of the box”. So, while your sitting at your desk reading this, I challenge you to look up and find 5 things you could pull design inspiration from. Then expand that process whenever you feel yourself falling into a creative rut.
Where is a great place to keep all this inspiration you ask?? Pinterest! It is an extremely useful database of photos for designers, as well as a space to organize those photos on project boards. The images are much more artful and vibrant than those from a common search engine. Clicking on one photo will lead you down a rabbit hole to more similar photos till eventually, you may not have found exactly what you thought you wanted but perhaps something better! Take a look at ours here.
Last but not least I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from Jim Jarmusch.
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration of fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work and theft will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if your feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.