The inspiration for your designs can come from many different places. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a color or shape that gets you thinking about how to use it in your design. Other times it may be an image that speaks to you on a deeper level or just the feeling of being in love (or lust) with a certain object or space. No matter where you find inspiration for your work, keep these 10 ideas in mind when looking for more ways to get inspired:
1. Talk to your client
When you’re working on a design project, it’s important to talk to your client. You need to understand the problem they’re trying to solve and what their goals are for the project. If you don’t know what your client wants, how will you be able to create something that they’ll like?
Here are some questions that will help you get started:
- What do they want? What is their goal/project objective?
- What do they like about their current design? Why are these elements important or useful to them (or not) in this context?
- Are there any elements of their current design that could be changed or improved upon for this new iteration of the product or brand experience?
2. Create a mood board
Mood boards are a great way to keep track of the inspirations you’ve collected throughout the design process. You may also want to use them as a jumping-off point for your own ideas or inspiration board. If you need some help getting started, there are plenty of online resources that can help you create one.
You can use a mood board during the design process in different ways:
- Create an inspiration board to show clients what your vision is (or was) for their project.
- Use it as a starting place when brainstorming new designs with teams or other designers on projects where everyone is contributing their own ideas and influences into something unique together.
3. Look at other designers’ work
In order to inspire design, I recommend looking at other designers’ work. Not just your industry’s peers, but also people outside of it. And even better are those who have different perspectives than you because they can help you think more deeply about the things that matter to you personally.
4. Look at non-designers’ work
Inspiration is all around. You just have to be looking for it. And sometimes, the best place to find inspiration is in non-designers’ work (and not just at museums).
Here are some of the ways that I find inspiration outside of design:
- Look at how other people solve problems and communicate their ideas. What makes them effective? What do you like about their approach? How might that apply to what you’re working on?
- Look at how other people interact with their audience—do they use humor, or are they straightly businesslike? Do they try new things all the time or stick with one thing for a long time? Is there a common personality trait between all of them (and if so, can I borrow some of it?)
5. Try to see things from the perspective of your audience
- To inspire design, you need to consider the people who will use your product. Who are they? What kind of person do you want them to be?
- How do they use products like yours in their everyday life? How does this relate to what you’re trying to create and how it fits into the larger ecosystem of things they interact with every day?
- What kinds of emotions do they feel when using your product or interacting with any part of the experience around it (the packaging, the website) that might inform how it looks or feels, or works?
6. Show someone your ideas and get their feedback
The best way to make sure that your design is going in the right direction is to get feedback from other people. Even if you’ve been a designer for years, you are still one person with limited knowledge and perspective. It’s hard to see something through another person’s eyes, so it’s important to show your ideas (and even sketches) to others and get their feedback.
There are many ways that you can present your work for feedback:
- Show it to someone who will be able to see the project from a different perspective than you have—someone who has less experience with design or has never seen your work before. This will help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish better than if they were just looking at what was created from their own point of view.
- Show it off at local meetups or events where there may be other designers or artists who could provide valuable insights into how your project might be received by consumers or clients outside of yourself.
- Ask someone who has worked in the same industry as yourself what they think about how well each step was executed—this could include asking peers who share similar interests or even friends who work as freelancers themselves!
7. Give yourself cues to keep you motivated and excited about the project.
One of the most important things you can do as a designer is to keep yourself inspired. Inspiration helps you create better work, and keep going when you feel like giving up.
Here are some ways that I keep myself motivated:
- Keep a notebook of ideas or sketches for future projects. These can be used to inspire your current project, or just come back to when having designer’s block on something new.
- Keep up with the latest design trends. This can be as simple as following some blogs and websites, or reading a book on design theory.
- Get outside and take a walk. The fresh air will help clear your mind and make it easier to think of new ideas or solutions.
8. Play. Play with colors, shapes, fonts, and more.
- Play with colors, shapes, fonts, and more. When you’re in the early stages of a project, try to see things from a different perspective. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try to find the right balance between form and function. If you’re stuck on something, step away from your computer for an hour or two and come back when you feel ready to tackle it again.
9. Take away distractions so that you can concentrate on solving a problem creatively
When you are trying to solve a problem creatively, it is sometimes helpful to take away distractions so that you can concentrate on solving the problem. Here are some ways to do this:
- Turn off your phone and put it away so that it will not distract you by ringing or lighting up with notifications.
- Turn off your computer and get away from the internet so that there will be no temptation for you to go online and check social media or email.
- Go for a walk outside if possible, or find someplace quiet where no one else will bother you while solving this problem. In this space, think about what needs solving and write down ideas as they come into mind.
Gathering inspiration for a project will help stimulate your creative juices!
Now that you’re inspired, it’s time to get to work! The most important thing is to start collecting visual references for the project. As we said you can use a mood board—a collage of images, words, and anything else that might be relevant—to gather inspiration.
There are so many ways to be inspired and find new ideas in the world around us. We hope this list has been helpful for you!