Netjelly.com Blog

Ashley Cooper on July 1st, 2010.

As someone who writes a lot, I suffer from writer’s block from time to time, and we all know what that means. It’s when you’re lost for creative words. Or at least, that is one form of writer’s block. But for those of you that design a lot, I’m sure at some point you have suffered the design equivalent to writer’s block.

Whether you suffer from designer’s block often or just sometimes, you could probably do with more inspiration to fuel your creativity. We all have creativity within us. Creativity is like a fire, and to be inspired is like throwing wood into that fire. The flames get bigger, and it stops them from dying out.

So, what is inspiration exactly?

–verb (used with object)
1.
to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: His courage inspired his followers.

There is actually a vast amount of definition behind inspiration, it’s almost hard to put into words. Inspiration stimulates your mind and body, in a way where it motivates you to be creative. To be a creative designer, you will need inspiration in your life. A lot of us are actually being inspired every day without even knowing it. But if you’re stuck in the office working a tedious amount of hours all week, it can be tricky.

Let’s look at some different things that can inspire you to help you achieve your creative goals in design.

Design galleries

The most obvious and perhaps most effective form of inspiration is online design galleries. There are endless galleries containing screenshots of some of the most awesome quality designs out there, many of them artistically beautiful, making them fantastic sources of inspiration. You can pick up on new interface ideas, color combinations, and overall styles. You often need to see how things are done before you can go and do them yourself.

Designing something based on inspiration from other design is not about copying. But getting ideas from ten designs and putting them into one is a good example of creating a design based on inspiration from design galleries. Take a look at these:

http://www.thecssawards.com
http://www.csselite.com
http://www.bestcssgallery.com
http://www.divinecss.com

Art galleries

Why not go and check out some local art exhibitions or museums? They are filled with inspirational art of all types. You’d be surprised how many web designers out there have been heavily inspired by painters and illustrators. Various effective web design techniques can be comparable to that you find on canvas work, such as paintings.

There’s an incredibly wide array of artistic styles out there. If you get inspired by the more unique stuff, you could well become a very unique designer, allowing you to seriously stand out from the crowd in terms of design style.

Music

Music can have an enormous effect on your mind, especially if you happen to be a particularly musical type of person. But either way, music can clear your mind and really get you in the zone. It can also help you get in touch with your emotions, which can lead to it being a way of truly inspiring you. Some designers don’t actually work without music to assist them. I don’t listen to music much when writing, but I do when designing.

Stuck on what to listen to? I always find new stuff on www.last.fm. You can listen to music for free on there.

Travel & culture

Travel broadens the mind. It is absolutely true, and it certainly can unlock a lot of creativity within you. Travelling and experiencing other cultures surrounds you with many forms of inspiration; different kinds of people, different languages and unique architecture, to name a few.

You don’t necessarily even need to travel far to find such inspiration. When I moved to a city less than 20 miles away from my original home, I was suddenly surrounded by old Georgian buildings, different accents, and new people. This no doubt broadened my mind because it was all new experiences.

Nature

There is nothing quite like nature. Taking a walk through fields, beaches or mountains can seriously sooth your mind and inspire you. Nature is incredibly colorful, which can give you good design ideas. For me, looking out over large waters is very peaceful and relaxing, and clears my mind of all of the interruptions that a lot of us have to deal with on a daily basis. I love oceans and waterfalls – others may prefer things like flowers, wildlife, forests or scenery.

Take some time to go and experience the beauty of nature, and you might be amazed at how you work when you return to your screen.

Books

Books can contain great creative inspiration. But they can also inspire you to be successful. Most great design books are written and compiled by great designers that have come a long way and become highly successful. You can see their work and learn from their text, as well as read their biographies. If you learn from design authors, be sure to look up more information about them and see what you can find out about their success stories, as it could well help you to build yours.

Here are some great book lists:

http://garmahis.com/reviews/best-web-design-books
http://speckyboy.com/2010/03/19/12-must-have-free-downloadable-web-design-books
http://www.smashingshare.com/2010/02/22/useful-web-design-development-books

Photography

Seeing a bit of nature is easy enough, and experiencing some different culture is usually no difficult task either. But the world is full of incredible beauty that a lot of us don’t have the time or money to go and experience. Photography is the next best thing. Photos can look pretty amazing, not only capturing nature and aspects of different cultures, but also very particular and unique moments in time. For example, you cannot go and see a solar eclipse every day, but you can look at a photo of it as much as you like.

Photos can be incredibly colorful and inspiring. There are all kinds of awesome photographs on http://browse.deviantart.com/photography.

I’d love to see some comments on what other things have inspired you designers out there.

Ashley Cooper is a writer and designer for the web, and a full time Computing BSc student based in South England. @MyNamesAsh
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