Feeding creativity: How to find inspiration for your graphics

Helen Scheuerer

Ever feel like you’re running out of creative ideas for your graphics?

Too many deadlines, demanding clients, no cohesive vision and even too much coffee can leave you feeling overwhelmed and uninspired. It’s not always easy to deliver creativity on demand so we’ve put list together that’s designed to get your creative juices flowing. Here’s eight constructive ways to find inspiration for your graphics.

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But, first:

Before you begin getting creative, make sure you know the purpose of the graphic. Consider:

  • What’s the goal of the graphic? What does it need to achieve?
  • What’s the message and how is it being delivered?
  • What platform will the graphic be displayed on? Is it printed or online?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What’s the brand? Are there any style guides or restrictions?

These considerations will streamline the creative process by setting a framework to design within. Eliminating possibilities and options can make a job less daunting without restricting the creative process.

01. Find inspiration on social media

That’s right, we’re encouraging you to stop what you’re doing and head on over to the dark side (just make sure you come back!) Pinterest and Tumblr are the two biggest and fastest growing imaged-based social media platforms and are great sources for finding inspiration online. Packed with stunning photography and design, they are easy-as-pie to navigate and search. Whether it’s inspiration for a logo design, a blog graphic or a color scheme, Pinterest and Tumbler are lots of satisfying visual treats.

And don’t forget to set up your own Pinterest and/or Tumblr account to store and refer back to the graphics you love best.

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02. Flip through the pages of a magazine

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Design-related magazines – in print and online – are fantastic for visual inspiration. Highlighting the best of the best in the industry, the glossy pages or smart graphics are sure to leave you motivated and in awe. Flip through print magazines surveying the layout, color palettes and fonts, etc, and pull out the pages that particularly inspire you. Keep a file or scrapbook that you can easily refer back to – it’s like Pinterest or Tumblr for the real world.

And if you’re online, here are 42 free online magazines to explore; or check out this shortlist of virtual magazines:

03. Collect inspiration

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So, with those first two categories being said, one of the best things you can do is to start collecting things you’ve read, seen, or listened to that you found interesting or inspiring. Bookmark websites to refer back to; pin images to a Pinterest board; follow designers on Instagram or Behance; and pull out pages from a magazine. Creating a collection of images and designs will provide you with a reference source for future projects. Tools like Evernote and even Google Drive can also be a good way to capture things you find online.

04. Play

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Working online provides designers with an abundance of free and useful tools at their disposal. Some of our favorites include Colour Lovers and Kuler, where you can experiment with color palettes, check out the most popular color schemes and see where and how they’ve been used.

Other fun and useful websites for inspiration include the appropriately named Designspiration and DesignTAXI. And of course, let’s not forget Canva itself, where you can drag and drop as well as experiment with colors and fonts.

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05. Talk it out

Get talking with other designers and creative-types. Chat about the projects you’re working on, what aspects you’re finding particularly challenging, brainstorm ideas and discuss sources of inspiration. You might chance upon some great advice, or better yet, a solution because they’ve ‘been there, done that. But no problem if that isn’t the case, because just talking through the difficulties of a job can lift the weight from your shoulders, leaving you refreshed and ready to approach a task from a new angle.

06. Make creativity part of your routine

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Whether it’s writing, drawing, playing music or designing, it’s important to set-aside time each day or each week to focus on your creative outlet. Choose a time and place free from distraction and if possible do it at the same time each day. Take 30 minutes before work, or a 20-minute afternoon break, or an hour in front of television in the evening – figuring out what time of day words best for you will help to start a creative routine. And don’t forget to switch off the mobile and close all social media tabs for undistracted time.

07. Have a regular ‘artist date’

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Take inspiration from Julia Cameron who, in her book The Artist’s Way, suggests taking a once-weekly, solo expedition to explore something of interest: venture to an art gallery, a music gig, or a sculpture walk. Whatever you choose, and regular ‘artist date’ can boost inspiration so get in touch with your cultural side.

08. Get some fresh air

Stepping away from the screen, going for walk and getting some fresh air can do wonders for recharging the mind and energy levels. If you’re feeling stuck or uninspired, take 5 minutes or 30 minutes to go outside and you’ll be surprised with what you might come up.

YOUR TURN

Creativity doesn’t always come naturally and it doesn’t always come when you most need ahead. Plan ahead by sourcing and collecting inspiration; play and experiment with your own graphics; and treat yourself right with fresh air, fresh conversation and a fresh creativity routine.

Do you have any other tips on how to stay creative? Share your advice below.