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How to... find creative inspiration - A guide for designers and creatives

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Dave Cuzner is the editor of Grain Edit, a blog focused on classic design work from the 1950s-1970s and contemporary designers that draw inspiration from that time period. Grain Edit includes interviews, articles, designers' libraries as well as examples of rare design annuals, type specimens, ephemera, posters and vintage kid's books.

Finding Inspiration

It happens to all of us. You're working on a design project and you hit a dead end. That dreaded designers block! Your mind is tapped. How do you get those design juices going again? Here are a few tips for when you get in a creative rut - I hope you find them useful.

Read a magazine

Stop by the local bookstore and check out the design magazines. Some of my favorite magazines include:-

 

Dip into the reference files

If you haven't built up a reference library, I highly recommend starting one. Set aside a few folders in your file cabinet to store your finds. Pack away labels, brochures, magazine clippings with cool type and anything else that you find interesting. I also suggest setting up something on your computer. Set aside a folder on your hard drive for web clippings or use a bookmarking tool like Evernote.

Get out of the house

Nothing will dry up the creative juices more than sitting in the same room for hours. Take a break from your work and get outside. Here are a few things you can do:-

  • Take a walk in the park
  • Visit a part of the city that you haven't been to before
  • Visit the art museum
  • Go to a flea market
  • Check out a movie
  • I also recommend visiting a library...

 

...Yep, remember the good old days when you used to go with mum and dad? The library is a great place to find inspiration. Check out the illustrations in old children's book and design annuals. Some libraries even have old encyclopedia sets and science books. These can be a haven for cool graphs, pictograms and fleurons.

Visit online Portfolio sites

Online portfolio sites are a great way to drum up ideas and Creativepool's Portfolio showcase is a good place to start.

Talk with others

There's no shame in asking others for help. Talking to other people can often get you to look at the problem in another light. Call up a friend or email a group of people. Ask for their input. Social networks and forums are also great for getting feedback.

Check design related blogs

Some of my favorites include:-

 

Brainstorm and Search

Grab a piece of paper and write down a list of words related to your project. Jot down everything that comes to mind, get it all out. For example, if you're working on a logo for a jewellery store you might write down words like: luxury, diamonds, rings, shiny, etc. After you've compiled your list, look up each word in a Thesaurus. Check for words with similar meanings and note any words that you might have missed on your list. Next grab your list and run searches at the following places: Google image search, Flickr, Ebay.

Hopefully this sparks some new ideas that help you to continue or move in a new direction. Thanks for reading. Hopefully this has been useful. You can read more of my articles here.

Follow me:

Twitter: @grainedit

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