Finding design inspiration

Need a helping creative hand to generate ideas or solve problematical design issues? At times inspiration is short and deadlines are way too tight. It can be all too easy to just revert back to standard uninspiring approaches and solutions, rather than specifically addressing the visual and technical requirements for a new design project.

Sourcing references and examples to kick start creative thoughts is a relatively easy task, especially with our current ability to quickly connect to the world via the net. A key aspect of working through stumbling blocks is the ability to see all relevant and seemingly irrelevant influences in context. All that surrounds us has the capability to offer assistance for problem solving, from basic structural form and content relationships through to colour schemes and harmony.

For general product or informational design (ie brochures, packaging and print advertising) the designer needs to consider both approaches that fit the current need and also those not obviously from the same product type or commercial sector. Making yourself open to alternatives may yield fresh design alternatives not immediately considered. The presentation, design framework and organisational structure of information in markets unrelated to your current project may provide insights towards problem solving with an alternative perspective.

Looking at structure, shape and colour – expand your mind!

Many market aspects demand specific required/desired elements to be successful and can lead to a unique visual language, only seen within that particular demographic, form of distribution or product type. It’s possible to find extremely useful layout solutions from simply observing and analysing the components and likely theory behind these designs. You may find that many examples have the ability to offer considerable insight into the bigger design questions that need to be answered. A key is to not stumble when viewing visuals not directly related to your exact market. Learn from the reasoning that has created the finished result and apply the same thinking to your project. Viable design direction may be gained.

For example: the structure and graphical detail required for a poster advertising a punk rock concert may not match your immediate project at hand, but it may illustrate a method or technique highly relevant to solving tough design issues that you do have. Helpfully, by simply absorbing and analysing a wide range of styles, colours and artistic approaches, your mind will likely gain a greater perspective and develop more possible ideas. A workable direction may then form, pointing towards a treatment previously unthought.

Over the years I’ve discovered many excellent design solutions hidden amongst completely unconnected print designs, packaging, displays and other artistic work. If not structure and content, then colour palettes and theory should at least present itself and offer you food for thought to help move beyond those annoying creative stumbles.


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