Inspiration Archives

If you’re a designer, photographer, or any kind of artist you’ve probably been asked the question - where do you get your ideas from?

It’s often said that it takes a certain kind of person to become an artist. I believe creative people become interested in design at a very young age and because of that they tend to look at the world slightly differently. Where an analytical person sees logic and order, a creative person will look for colour and patterns. When a non-creative sees the main headline of a newspaper, a graphic designer will see typography and grids - I know, it can be a curse sometimes! I’ve often been found staring at a billboard or poster, and when someone has commented on the Ad’s message my response has been - “huh?” - I was busy admiring the subtleties of image proporation.

Finding Inspiration

Inpiration can be found anywhere. Colour themes can be found in nature. Art direction can be seen through a bus window. A lamp post and a tree can occassional crop a beautiful composition. Unless you’re on a bus in central London in which case it’s normally a lamp post and a homeless person cropping a harrowing view into a bank office window.

There are, thankfully, easier ways to be inspired. Art galleries are the obvious choice. Exhibitions, museums, seminars and libraries are others. This is when living in a big city comes in handy.

The Internet opens up a whole new world of inspiration. There are hundreds of design related blogs that update daily showcasing the community favourites. Subscribing to RSS feeds takes the effort out of surfing and inundates your morning tea break with more design than you can handle. Like too much sugar in your tea.

If you fancy being original you can venture out into Google and look for inspiration yourself. Every modern creative-type has a website these days (or should do). I’ve found people from all over the world whose designs have inspired me. That’s amazing. However you choose to find things that interest you, how do you manage inspiration?

Managing Inspiration

If you’re like me and are potentially inspired by a cup of tea, it’s impossible to remember everything you’ve seen and how it’s going to influence you in the future. And that brings me nicely to the point of this blog post:

Every creative person should keep an inspiration archive.

An “inspiration archive” is a phrase I just made up to describe any way of managing inspraition. So it could take the form of:

  • A personal blog where you submit and comment on design you enjoy.
  • A “web 2.0 social media” blog like Posterous, Twitter, Flickr or any other free service where they drop the “e”. *
  • or simply a folder on your desktop where you drag images that you like.

Alongside Design Heroes (my design bookmark website which I’ve blogged about enough already) I keep several other inspiration archives including a folder on my desktop (or normally the desktop itself) that contains hundereds of random designs and ideas I’ve dragged of the web.

Inspiration shouldn’t be limited to the digital world either. Designers should have a healthly library of books, magazines and a collection of random assortments more commonly refered to as “crap”.

Being Inspired

You have found design that you like, you’ve organised it for reference, what’s next? Nothing really! Maybe flick through it once in a while to refresh your memory but really your subconsious will do all the work for you. Because creative people think about the world in a creative way since a young age they learn to absorb ideas and visuals in everything they see. The act of collecting inspiration refines this process into a well oiled machine.

That’s the reason I believe every designer should keep at least one inspiration archive. Otherwise you’ll be absorbing ideas from other stuff. Like dire TV, or Big Macs.

Be careful not to over saturate your mind with good design though. You need room in their to remember where you left your wallet.

* It’s quite funny how Web 2.0 sites like Flickr drop the “e” when once upon a time during the dot-com boom adding “e-” to the start of your company was a mandatory right of passage.

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