Finding Inspiration In Uncommon Sources: 12 Places To Look
There are so many things designers could be turning to for inspiration outside of design galleries. We’ve featured a dozen of those places below, along with where you can find inspiration for each of them. Share any other inspirational sources you might have in the comments.
The world of fashion has a long and varied artistic history. Trends change on a seasonal basis and often reflect the overall sentiment of culture at any given time. For example, in times of war or turmoil, feminine designs tend to become more popular to counterbalance all the perceived negativity. When there’s international financial trouble, designs tend to be less over-the-top and many designers focus on more realistic designs. By contrast, in economic boom times, designs tend to be very avant-garde and are more art pieces than functional clothing.
Taking inspiration from both modern and historical fashion can be a great way to infuse something new and fresh in your website designs. A few ideas on how to adapt fashion designs to your next project:
Look at the overall scale of an outfit and mimic it.
Color schemes are one of the easiest areas to adapt.
Look at the lines of a garment and emulate them in your designs.
Fabric textures and patterns are another easy-to-mimic areas.
Architecture And Interior Design
The world of architecture and interior design holds a huge variety of potential sources of inspiration, and there’s likely an aesthetic style out there for every taste and every project. From vernacular architecture to modern minimalism to art deco and everything in between, there’s almost certainly an architectural style out there that can be adapted to your project.
There are billions of photos online you can peruse whenever you need a bit of inspiration. Look at composition, color, and balance within an image to get ideas. Also, keep in mind what the story behind the image is, and think about how something similar could be applied to your design project.
Packaging design is far enough removed from web design that it’s often possible to find inspiring pieces you can easily adapt without copying. The change in format can lead to surprising adaptations that extend far beyond the original inspiration. The best part about packaging design is that it’s so accessible. Packaging surrounds us, making it easy to find examples in the real world.
There are hundreds of board games out there. And the thing about a lot of them is that they have fantastic color schemes and graphic elements. Sometimes the layouts of the games themselves can be used as a source of inspiration.
The Natural World
The inspirational opportunities present in the natural world around us could make an entire post all on their own. There are literally thousands, if not millions, of things to be inspired by around the world and in our own backyards. Birds, trees, animals, bugs, the sky, mountains, valleys, deserts, rivers, lakes, the list could go on forever.
When you’re lacking inspiration, try taking a walk through a nearby field, park, forest, or other natural space. Look around at the shape and texture of things, the colors, the patterns, and anything else that catches your eye. You’re almost sure to find something you can apply to your projects if you take the time to look.
Traveling to new places can be a great way to feel inspired again. Whether you take a day trip, go away for a weekend, or go on a weeks-long exotic vacation, a change of scenery can go a long way toward getting your creative juices flowing again.
Try going somewhere you’ve never been before, or somewhere you haven’t been to in a very long while. Take the time to experience the place you’re visiting, and stay away from the tourist traps as much as possible.
Your mode of travel may be almost as important as your destination. When so many of us go on vacation, we immediately think of flying somewhere. But why not try taking a train or a bus instead? Or drive, if wherever you’re going isn’t too far away. A change in your travel mode may inspire you, too.
Listening to music can be a fantastic way to get past a creative block. A lot of us listen to music while we work, but other than finding music that’s “motivational”, I’m sure we usually don’t put a whole lot of thought into what we’re listening to while we’re working on a particular project.
But if you tailor your music choices to the project at hand, you may find that you’re even more inspired. For example, let’s say you’re designing a site for a shop that sells maternity clothes. Listening to death metal while designing probably isn’t going to put you in the best frame of mind for designing. Something a bit lighter might work a lot better for you. Or let’s say you’re designing a site for a cutting-edge new web app that’s set to revolutionize some industry or other. Listening to Baroque music probably isn’t going to help you very much. So think through what your project is really about, and then try to tailor your music to the feeling you want to create.
Try to create a mental image as you’re listening to particular music, and then translate that into your projects. If you’re listening to the right music, it’s likely you’ll come up with some kind of image that can be applied to your design sooner or later.
A word of caution, though: If you hate classical music, jazz, country, or any other musical genre, don’t force yourself to listen to it just because it fits your current project best. All you’ll do is annoy yourself. Instead, design in silence or pick a more mellow/energetic/whatever version of the music you normally listen to.
The world of artisan crafts is filled with some incredibly talented people. The world of crafts is no longer just populated with tea cozies and crocheted toilet paper roll covers. Unique designs abound and are an excellent source of creative inspiration. Plus, because craft designs are far removed from web design, there’s very little chance of being accused of copying someone else’s creation, and there’s plenty of room for your own interpretation.
Look at the shapes, textures, and patterns as sources of inspiration. Color is also easily adapted.
The sensations that go along with eating can be a fantastic way to unleash your creativity. If you’re feeling uninspired, try going out to your favorite restaurant or cooking your favorite meal. But go beyond just eating and really think about your food. If you’re cooking, consider the ingredients you’re putting into the meal and what each one adds to the finished result. The same goes for eating out; think about the different flavors and how they complement or compete with each other in the finished dish.
Don’t overlook the presentation of your food, either. Look at the way the food is placed on the plate, whether there is any garnish, how much empty space there is around the food, etc. All of these things add to the dining experience. Consider how you might be able to apply the same concepts to your own projects.
Illustrated Picture Books
Children’s picture books are often filled with wonderful graphics. The illustrations themselves are one source of inspiration, but also the typography and the page layouts beyond the illustrations can be just as valuable.
Look at the colors, the fonts used (and their sizes), and how the type is positioned on the page. Also check out how the text is balanced with the graphic elements, and how the amount of information on each page is limited. All of these are valuable lessons that you can apply to your own designs.
Movies And Television
Title sequences in movies and television are the most obvious places to look for inspiration, but set and costume design can also be useful in finding solutions to design problems. Historical films often have fantastic settings and costumes, as do science fiction and fantasy. Contemporary films can also have a wealth of potential design inspirations.
Pay attention to the visual aspects of the next movie or television show you watch and try to think of ways they could be applied to your design projects. Also pay attention to secondary products associated with television and movies, such as commercials and promotional posters. These can be a huge source of inspiration as well.
Stepping away from the places we normally seek inspiration can lead to a whole new world of creative sources. Try keeping a file of potential ideas, images, and other materials garnered from these sources, either on your computer or in physical form. Then you can pull from it even when pressed for time.
If you have any other unconventional sources for design inspiration, please share them in the comments! What are you inspired by?
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