Have you ever experienced the designer’s version of “writer’s block”? Every artist experiences it at one point or another, the feeling when you just can’t get inspired about a particular subject or project. But eventually, deadlines start looming and the work needs to be done. Where do you turn for new, fresh ideas?
Thankfully, these days we have access to endless content on the Internet. If you know where to look, you can always find an interesting new concept to inspire your next idea. We’ll help you narrow down all the best the resources so you can get your creative wheels spinning again.
Many people may think Pinterest is only useful for crafts and recipe ideas, but it can be a treasure trove of inspiration for graphic designers. Whether you’re designing a business card, storefront poster or invitation, all it takes is a quick search to turn up thousands of examples that you can draw from. You may even find that you can generate ideas by looking at images on Pinterest that aren’t directly related to your current project. Finding design elements that speak to you in a simple phone background image or home renovation photo could trigger your imagination and provide the spark needed to complete your vision. Just remember not to directly copy another artist’s work. It’s great to borrow certain design elements or aesthetics, but the final work must be your own.
Browse Through Online Magazines
In addition to Pinterest, From the page layouts to the color combinations, fonts and photos, there are creative designs for you to explore on every page. Even if you’re not working on a magazine project, these can still provide lots of fodder for ideas, especially for other print designs. Some popular resources you can find online include Creative Review, Eye Magazine and Mindsparkle. Again, just be sure to put your own spin on your favorite concepts to make them more authentic and avoid copying.
Find a Team
When all else fails, it’s time to put some heads together. If you’re feeling stuck creatively, don’t be afraid to consult your coworkers and see if they can help you brainstorm a concept. Even if they’re not designers themselves, just hearing their perspective on your project could be a huge help in turning your creative wheels. Similarly, you could also discuss ideas with your friends or family at home. Since you trust these people, they can be a great resource and act as an independent third party to help you think outside the box. Take notes on what they say, because you never know when an offhand comment will spark an idea in your brain that leads to an amazing design.
Schedule Time for Portfolio Projects
To give your future self a leg up, make it a priority to schedule time for creative portfolio projects as if they are needed for a real client. Though these sessions may not serve a current customer, the challenges you tackle can further hone your skills and help you find inspiration for a project in the future. You might use this time to play with design concepts you wouldn’t normally try, learn new techniques, or simply let your creative mind wander. The next time you’re feeling less than inspired, you can turn back to these projects and thank your past self for taking the time to explore.
On that note, it’s incredibly important to document your entire creative process and keep track of past or discarded ideas. One easy way to organize your work is to create a design inspiration folder in your preferred file storage system. As you brainstorm designs or come up with imaginative future ideas, you can file away your work and easily access it down the road and potentially work it into another project. Additionally, if you decide partway through a design to go in a different direction, hang on to your past creations and keep them in your inspiration folder. Though it didn’t make the cut for your current project, it could help trigger your next great idea in the future.