Great Inspiration On and Offline

By LaurenMarie

I’ve been doing quite a bit of original creative recently and it’s been helpful to have tons of design resources. Thanks mostly to blogs like Inspiration Bit, David Airey (and Logo Design Love), iLT, Just Creative Design and Smashing Magazine, I’ve found some great inspiration for my work. I thought maybe you all could benefit from a fairly comprehensive list of creative inspiration, too!

Galleries

deviantArt. There are tons of extremely creative individuals on deviantArt. I’ve previously shared some collections of images that I’ve liked and found inspiring.

deviantArt Inspiration

deviantArt inspiration

Depth Core. Don’t mistake the work on this site as graphic design; this is definitely digital art (founded by Justin Maller and Kevin Stacey). Particularly note all the details these artists put into their work. Details really make or break a piece and bring a level of polish that artists and designers alike should strive for.

Depth Core Inspiration

Depth Core Inspiration

Flickr. Similarly to deviantArt, Flickr is full of inspiration. I have previously written several posts on Flickr Inspiration (taste of vintage, too).

Flickr Inspiration

Flickr Inspiration

Logo Pond. Sometimes hit and miss with this logo gallery. There are some truly unique and talented logo designers that have their work up here, but there are other designers that do not produce work of a very high caliber. Still, it’s a good source for sparking ideas. Logo Sauce is also similar, but overall I don’t think the quality is as good. The logos below for Castle Print, Zen Solutions andSwan Song.

Logo Pond Inspiration

FaveUp. Run by the folks at Eden (PSDtuts et al.) and has inspiration in logos, business cards and websites.

FaveUp Inspiration

Smashing Magazine. Depending on what you’re looking for, Smashing Magazine can be a great source of inspiration. They even have a whole category of posts dedicated to Inspiration.

Smashing Magazine Inspiration

Etsy. If you’re looking for inspiration for handmade products (or how to reproduce a style digitally), Etsy should be the number one stop on your list. It is particularly full of letterpress goodness!

Etsy Letterpress Inspiration

Portfolios

David Airey. David is a supremely talented logo designer. His mastery of everything from the design of the mark to typography to color shows in each logo he has presented in his portfolio.

David Airey

David Pache. It must be something with the name because David Pache is also an extremely creative logo designer.

David Pache

Boxcar Press. Beautiful letterpress work. I’ll be sharing some of my own adventures in
letterpress in the next few weeks as I’ve just started a four-week class in it!

Boxcar Press

Offline Inspiration

What? Inspiration can be found in the real world? No way!

Communication Arts. I especially enjoy flipping through the Design Annuals, but every issue features great designers, photographers and illustrators and I enjoy looking through the work they present and more often than not head to their website for more inspiration.

Snail Mail. Every so often I get invitations and other materials from AIGA, the graphic design industry’s trade association in the US. I almost always keep their stuff because it reminds me just how versatile the print world is with all sorts of finishes, varnishes, foils, diecuts, etc. It’s also not uncommon to receive marketing materials for various new residential communities that are going up in the area, or a new creative brochure promoting using energy wisely.

Antique Stores. There is something amazing and magical about seeing and touching authentic “retro” magazines, books, and posters. If you’ve never searched for inspiration outside of your computer, I encourage you to go to an antique store and hold the old magazines. Let this unique experience inspire new ideas for your next project!

Antique Magazine

Vintage Book

Home Design Centers. Many businesses that exist specifically to aid homeowners in sprucing up their property—interior design businesses, landscaping centers, carpet and tile stores—spend a lot of money producing beautiful, glossy product brochures. Go collect some! If they ask questions, tell them you’re researching and you want to pour over the brochures in the comfort of your own home. It’s true! You don’t have to tell them what you’re researching ;)

Avoid Being Overwhelmed

When looking through all this inspiring material, it’s important to not be too overwhelmed with how creative other designers have been and get down on yourself for never having produced something so beautiful.

Rather than get discouraged, turn it into a learning experience. Use the elements of design to figure out why something looks so good. By breaking down the design, you’ll get a better handle on how to create good design yourself and you’ll gain skills you wouldn’t have otherwise!

So where are your favorite places to find inspiration and how do you use it?