Sometimes, finding inspiration can be hard. Whatever sort of artist you are, I’m sure you can relate. If writers call it a “blank page” moment, then for web designers it’s a “blank Photoshop canvas” moment. Suddenly, none of your thousands of fonts work; no color combination looks right; everything just seems tired or commonplace- and you’re on a deadline.
When this happens, stop working, and go find some inspiration. And no, you don’t have to wait for it to strike. Here are some places to find inspiration:
Magazines & Newspapers
You probably already find inspiration in magazines like ID, but you’ll be surprised at how many design ideas you can pick up from other, non-design related magazines. For example, home decorating magazines are a great place to find harmonious color combinations. Or, if you’re designing a website targeting female teens, pick up a copy of the latest Seventeen for ideas. I love looking at the various ways they lay articles out in newspapers, as well.
Plants & Flowers
Got some green around you? Whether it’s a well-landscaped park, a wild and untamed patch of garden, or a simple potted daisy, the “design” of a plant or flower is nothing short of amazing. Greens, browns, yellows- these are earth colors that are rarely muddy or depressing, because- well, it’s nature.
Whatever time of day it is, there’s always something interesting going on in the sky above you. It’s easy to think of it as blue, but take a closer look: there are so many shades of blue, as well as a lot of other colors, in the sky. Is it cloudy? Marvel at the opacity of the clouds, the wisps around their edges. At night, look up at the stars- notice their natural shine, and how perfectly spaced they are in the vast darkness.
Light & Shadow
The best artists know that it’s all about light. Sunlight is wonderful- go stand in your driveway, and watch how the sun lights up the world around you. Pay attention to the shadows, to the color changes that occur when something is lit from a certain direction. Artificial light is also interesting: watch how a lightbulb casts glows around it; turn off the lights and shine a flashlight on the ceiling with one hand, while making shadows with your other hand. Or sit in complete darkness, and see how your eyes can still adjust to find light along the edges of objects in the darkness, creating a symmetry of light and shadow.
See, inspiration really is everywhere… even when you simply close your eyes. What inspires you?
P.S. A Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it! Right after posting this, I’m off to spend two days in the mountains with our extended families, to enjoy the cool Christmas air and hopefully roast some chestnuts on an open fire. Just the thought of it is inspiring.