Everyone working in a creative industry will have struggled at some point in their career to find inspiration.
We’ve all heard the term writer’s block but this applies to all creative pursuits and causes us the same amount of distress.
There’s nothing worse than receiving a brief and having no initial ideas to work with. Whether it’s a professional or a personal project, creatives need that initial spark to ignite the fire of creativity, lighting the way to success. Next time you’re struggling to find that spark try looking in these 5 places.
The first thing people do nowadays when they want to know something is go straight to the internet. Whilst idly googling things is all well and good, it doesn’t always get you the right results. Luckily there are some specific sites that can help you find what you need.
First up is an old favourite for visual inspiration, Pinterest. This platform, as many people will know, is good for collecting images, projects, and themes into folders for ideas and sharing with others. The panel-based system allows the user to search keywords and phrases before displaying results in tiles, much like a mood board.
Pinterest is perfect for initial research and getting a feel for your visuals, themes, colours etc. Collecting images like this is a great way to get your ideas flowing.
Pinterest is a good platform to start with, but if you are looking for something more sophisticated then Behance.net is the place to go. In terms of function, Behance is very similar to Pinterest except it is specifically aimed at creators and artists as opposed to all visual content. Searches are still based on keywords and phrases but here you can search by creative field, artists names and specific projects to create a more tailored result. You can save mood boards and create different collections of saved items as well as follow artists and add your own content too.
This site provides articles about the latest art news alongside interviews and blogs from different artists and designers. This site, although very different from the other two, is great to catch up on the latest styles, trends and artists to discover something new. There is a search function that allows you to narrow down your search or you can simply scroll through the headlines on the main landing page.
Looking for inspiration in books might seem a bit old school, but they still hold a lot of valuable information. Whether they’re brand new or old and dusty, books are a great source of visual inspiration and creative knowledge.
Obviously when looking for visual inspiration books with images and visual references are best but sometimes some simple art or design theory can help you out. Reading ideas and opinions from critics, writers or other bloggers can open up pathways to new ideas and thoughts that might be more helpful in your search than you think.
Here is a list of books that I would recommend:
- 1000 Ideas That Changed Graphic Design – Steven Heller & Veronique Vienne
- A Smile in the Mind – Beryl McAlhone
- Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite – Paul Arden
- Ways of Seeing – John Berger
- Letters of Note: Art – Shaun Usher
3. Exhibitions and Galleries
Another great place to find inspiration for new projects is an exhibition or art gallery. When people think of galleries, they usually imagine a quiet room, filled with grand old paintings and people whispering their artsy words and opinions. However, many galleries, even the traditional ones, have moved into the 21st century with a bang, showing new and exciting exhibits so there is something for everyone.
To use these spaces and exhibits to your benefit, you can take two different approaches. Either plan your trip and find a gallery with a particular artist or exhibit that you think is relevant to your new projects or simply wing it. In my opinion, the latter usually works best. Often things you find unexpectedly are the ones that inspire you the most.
Make the most of your trip by bringing your camera, a pen, some paper or a sketchbook. This way you can document the things you’ve seen, so scribble and sketch out ideas as you walk around, taking your inspiration from the source to paper in seconds. After all, the freshest and most spontaneous ideas can be the most successful.
4. The Environment
Many famous artists used the environment around them as one of the best sources of creative inspiration. Just think of Turner and Constable for example, but it’s not just fine artists that use their environment as inspiration, anyone can use anything they see, smell, or touch to inspire a masterpiece.
Using the same techniques as during your gallery visit, take a walk with your camera, pen and sketchbook and see what you come across. It may be a colour, a texture or a smell that grabs your attention. Sit in a coffee shop and listen to the people around you, a few overheard words from a strangers conversation could unlock an idea. Write everything down, record your walk in steps and retrace them when you get home. It could be exactly what you need to get started.
Finally, it might seem too simple, but a quick conversation with a friend, colleague or family member might point you in the right direction. Ask questions and gather opinions. You might not agree with all of them but they may give you answers or alternative views that you might not have thought of yourself.
Also look at other people’s work around you, artists and colleagues. Some of the best art is inspired by other artists. Be brave, talk about your subject matter and follow the direction of each conversation to see where you end up. When more than one brain is working together the results might surprise you.
The next time you find yourself struggling to find creative inspiration try these 5 top tips. Here at Punch, we’re lucky enough to work 4 days a week. This gives our designers extra downtime to get out and about in the world and soak up all the creative inspiration it has to offer.