Creative 62: Design Inspiration for Every Skill Level
By Kiana Denlinger | September 9, 2015
At one time or another, each of us has felt the dull throb of emptiness when tasked with a project outside our area of expertise. We wonder: Where do I begin? How can I formulate a good idea? Something memorable and impactful that will really resonate and make change?
I have for you, reader of little steam, a three-part curated list of my personal go-tos for design inspiration and execution. We’ll start with the Get-Me-Out-Of-This-Rut resources, move on to creative collateral that you can tap for your next project and end with a few learning and doing tools to help you build things once inspiration strikes.
All three lists can be used by people with any amount of creative skill and design savvy so if you’re ready, sit down, kick back and enjoy part one: inspiration! *Resources numbered for your convenience*
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There’s nothing wrong with the mainstays of visual inspiration: Pinterest (1), Tumblr (2) and Instagram (3), which keep their offerings fresh by pulling content from millions of users. While these sites offer a massive amount of content and are an obvious place to start, do not end your search here.
For more down-to-business inspiration, I recommend using Designspiration.net (4) or any of Behance’s (5) new “served” sites. These sites curate submissions from professional designers that run the gamut of creative categories including editorial (publication) design, product and packaging, web and app design, illustration and so on. Additionally, both sites utilize powerful tools for an easy search experience. Designinspiration.net even allows you to search by HEX colors!
Unsurprisingly, creative inspiration can also be found in weird places. Branch out and check out The Type Fight (6), a contest-based site that allows users to submit illustrations of their favorite letterforms. While this site is a bit off-the-wall, it provides excellent examples of how to tackle one problem in different ways. Cultivating this kind of inventive perspective is especially important for social enterprises and other businesses trying to change the status quo.
My favorite go-to for creative inspiration in my inbox is The Daily Heller (7). Offering a unique perspective grounded in the history of illustration, typography and design, Steven Heller creates thought provoking content around a variety of design topics.
Unsurprisingly, the AIGA (originally founded as the American Institute of Graphic Arts) also provides some great resources. I constantly read Eye on Design (8) and Design For Good (9). The former, a blog with an e-newsletter, provides a wide-range of design-related articles that even non-designers can get into, like this post on gender stereotypes in business. Design For Good is a platform for social good projects. If you work for a B Corp, for-benefit business or other company trying to do good, this platform offers great resources that can help you engage your community for a positive impact.
Other blogs that I recommend include Abduzeedo (10), DesignMilk (11) , Brainpickings (12), and creativebloq (13). They offer perspectives on creative endeavors in realms as diverse as fashion, furniture, architecture and fine art.
If you’re particularly wary of engaging in design-specific blogs, poke around on Adweek (14), or Wired (15). They curate inspiration in a way that’s easily digestible for anyone regardless of design interest or background.
Whether you drive or bike or bus or walk, I recommend using your commute to explore creative podcasts. Design Matters (16) with Debbie Millman examines the world of creative culture with commentary from in-field professionals. As you begin to explore over 200 episodes featuring artists, marketers, writers and chefs, you may actually start looking forward to your next commute!
I also recommend On the Grid (17), an unscripted podcast that addresses design’s effect on the world and vice versa. You don’t have to be a designer to make creative connections, and this cast emphasizes that truth by incorporating varied perspectives.
A few episodes of On the Grid address good and design specifically. Episode 93 examines ethics and design, while episode 44 explores things designed to “save the world.” These episodes make a great starting point for those in the business-for-good space.
If you’re not quite ready to decipher designer-speak, start with Design Guy (18). He introduces basic design principles and theories with some inspiring examples and best practices. This podcast doubles as a great learning tool.
I hope that the resources highlighted in this post have given you a sense of the diverse and accessible design inspiration out there. Regardless of whether you’re an artist looking for new illustration styles or a writer looking for a visual companion to your latest piece or a business owner trying to map out your annual report, a little inspiration can be a big help.
Tweet @RoundPegcomm with your own favorite sources of inspiration. Also, don’t forget to check out the next post in this blog series, Creative 62: Visual Resources for Every Marketing Need. It includes all of my go-to resources for photography, illustrations, typography and other crucial creative collateral.