Finding Inspiration: 6 Ways to Cultivate New Ideas

Design is all about tackling specific challenges in new ways, and the “Finding Inspiration,” Freelance column I wrote for  the January issue of HOW magazine contains a lot of practical advice for doing just that. But it’s just as important to do simple things to stay fresh day to day. The word “inspiration” comes from the Latin “inspirare,” which means “to inhale or breathe in,” so here are a few simple ways to fill your lungs.

1. Check out publications. Look for magazines and books that feature the best design work being done today, from HOW and Print to Communication Arts and the Society of Publication Designer’s Annual.

Photo from Shutterstock

2. Surf the web. Visit Behance, Dribbble, Photo District News and other sites that will wake up your brain and push you in a new direction.

3. Visit a museum. Experience art in three dimensions and take in some of the classics. And get back in the habit of bringing your sketchbook with you.

4.Use social media. Follow art directors, designers, illustrators and other creative professionals whose work catches your eye on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other social media outlets.

5. Attend “non-design” events. Events that aren’t necessarily design related, such as ottery classes, book readings, concerts and film festivals, will introduce you to people and processes that keep your mind nimble. After all, design isn’t a purely visual medium—it’s a way of thinking.

6. Try creativity exercises. Stretch your skills with different art and design activities. For example, you might tackle some of the creative pick-me ups in D:30: Exercises for Designers by Jim Krause.