Where to Find Design Inspiration & Beat Your Creative Block
Every single time I start a design project, I first find inspiration. You may think that designers are gifted with this crazy creative brain that’s always producing new and amazing ideas that we can just pull from at any given moment. BUT, that my friends is only partially true. I definitely have a crazy creative brain (hello ADD), but it doesn’t only produce amazing ideas. Not to mention that when it does, it doesn’t mean I can remember them later. Lets be real, by the time I thought of one great idea, my brain is already on to the next thing and *poof* the first idea is gone. Raise your hand if you can relate. And that, is why I am always looking for good inspiration.
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“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
― Mark Twain,
See? Even my main man Mark agrees that you need some kind of inspiration. Searching for inspiration is one of my favorite parts about designing because it gets me excited to do the job, it gets my gears turning and gives me so many ideas to play off of. I want to teach you to do the same! By first seeing other successful designs, the finial outcome of your project will already be better than it would have been. Every time we see strong visual imagery or marketing, we are subconsciously learning to elevate our own.
I first want to be clear in saying that finding inspiration does NOT mean copying someone else’s work. In fact, that’s the opposite of what I’m telling you. However, looking through other people's work is a great way to find examples of different layouts, colors, fonts and imagery. Successful inspiration is when you are able to take several ideas from different designs you like, and combine or change the concepts to fit your current projects needs, style, and outcomes.
Finding inspiration is especially helpful when you’re brain just totally shuts off and you can’t even decide where to begin. I know what its like to be stuck in a creative block for hours, and I want to help you get out of it (or even avoid it totally). So here are my list of favorite places to look when I need design inspiration.
When you start your inspiration hunting, I suggest searching for similar types of projects to your own. If you’re creating an ebook cover, look at other ebook (or regular book) covers. If you’re making a Facebook ad, search for web banners, web ads and Facebook ads. Catch my drift? Great. Now search away!
Design Inspiration Site 1 | Pinterest
My first stop for design inspiration is ALWAYS Pinterest. Not only is there a huge selection of designs on Pinterest, but they make it so easy to search through them all. Any time I look for ideas on Pinterest, I always find relevant images that I can actually connect with and draw inspiration from. Whether you’re looking for logo design inspiration or Instagram post ideas, they have it all. Plus with Pinterest, you can take it a step further and make a secret board for your project and pin every example you like to that board. When you are done searching, go back to that board and pull your favorite ideas or examples and base your design around the concepts you found. Once you’re done with the project, just delete the board. Boom! Easy peasy.
Want already curated design inspiration? Go follow me on Pinterest and check out my thousands of pins, already sorted into categories that you can look through! Don’t forget to give your girl a follow while you’re at it. ;)
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Design Inspiration Site 2 | Dribbble
Dribbble (yes that third b is supposed to be there), is a portfolio site where graphic designers upload there work. They can then tag their projects with relevant keywords, and thus you can search through it! This is an especially great site to go to if you’re looking for branding inspiration. There are quite a few logos, business cards, branded stationary, website design… that kind of thing. There are also a lot of random illustration projects and things that won’t really relate to what you’re looking for, but its pretty easy to sift through that stuff.
Design Inspiration Site 3 | Behance
Behance is an even larger portfolio site. While similar to Dribbble, it can be either easier to find inspiration because the search functions work a bit better than Dribble, or more overwhelming because there are SO. MANY. PROJECTS. So depending on what you’re searching for, you may have better luck finding design inspiration on here.
Side note: Behance also has lots of free stuff on that designers are giving away, so keep an eye out for free typefaces, icons, templates, etc. Whatever your little heart desires, someone is probably giving it away fo’ free.
Design Inspiration Site 4 | Creative Market*
Sometimes going to Creative Market can give you some awesome design inspiration! Although this isn’t a place where designers go to upload their portfolio so to speak, but all of the design resources they sell can be great sparks of inspiration. Find some products in a similar design style to yours, or go look at templates they are selling and see if anything resonates with you. You can always count on Creative Market to have awesome designs to look through. It’s often hard to decide what to buy because you want so many things, so using it as a tool for design inspiration is a no brainer!
Design Inspiration Site 5 | Other Business Owners
Okay, so this isn’t really a particular site, nor is it a super specific answer, but it’s still really helpful nonetheless! Often times you’re creating a marketing piece that so many others in your niche or in your circle of business owners or bloggers have already created. Find your favorite, most inspirational creative entrepreneurs and look at their pages. See what they have done. If they are a super successful business, they probably have techniques and ideas that have worked, so see if you can pull any inspiration from them!
If after perusing these five sites you still have NO idea where to start, my biggest suggestion to you is to walk away from it. I have to do this ALL the time. Sometimes your brain just gets so blocked and no matter how much design inspiration you take in, you just can’t come up with anything of your own. Seriously, just sleep on it. It really works wonders. Don’t think about it for several hours so your brain is fresh when you come back to it. Once you do that, I can almost guarantee you finish the project in record time and you will be so confused as to why this was so hard in the first place.
If you found this helpful, leave a note in the comments below! I would LOVE to hear from you!!