Inspiration Now! 11 Ideas from Our Favorite Designers

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Writer’s block? Stuck in a rut? Creatively challenged?

We’ve all been there, staring at the screen: cursor blinking, artboard sadly stark white, pencil sharpened and nowhere to go.  Looking around you want so badly for inspiration to jump off the screen and bite you.  Sometimes, just sometimes it does – but more often than not, you have to go looking for it.  Even our favorite designers, on those dark and desperate moments, have to dig deep and think out-of-the-box to seek inspiration everywhere – and today they’re here to share with us some places you might find it, too.

James White is a visual artist, designer and speaker living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. He makes posters and all kinds of cool stuff.

James White is a visual artist, designer and speaker living in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. He makes posters and all kinds of cool stuff.

James White: “I find inspiration by researching stuff from my childhood. Being a child of the 80s, I watch a lot of cartoons and movies from that era, as well as look at a lot of comics, posters, stickers, patches etc. The 80′s aesthetic holds a special place in my heart and always brings me back to being that 7 year old playing with GI Joes in the back yard.”

Brandon Rike designs shirt graphics for bands, as well as logos, posters, low-key album art. He makes letters look good.

Brandon Rike designs shirt graphics for bands, as well as logos, posters, low-key album art. He makes letters look good.

Brandon Rike: “I’ve always found that looking at other designers and artists’ work often proved to be counter-productive. Either it becomes a complete time-suck for your day, or conjures up feelings of envy or insecurity. I try my best to avoid those design inspiration sites and publications the best I can. Instead, I’ve always been a bit more inspired, albeit indirectly, by the spaces in which designers and artists work. I’ve found myself more inspired about seeing the area in which other people feel creative in. A quick search for “artist studios” or “workroom” often leaves me excited to create, as well as excited to someday create my “dream studio” – the utopian space were the ideas flow effortlessly.

I’ve found more inspiration in a blank canvas than a collection of suggestions. Your ideas exist inside of you, and while seeing others work may spark a new idea in you, have confidence in your own ideas – just put yourself in an open position where they can come to you. De-clutter, and leave room for creativity.”

New York City native Jon Contino has garnered considerable attention for his unique approach to design utilizing hand-drawn lettering and typographic illustration in conjunction with a modern, yet minimalistic sensibility. He works not only as a freelance illustrator, but also as Co-Founder and Creative Director of menswear brand CXXVI Clothing Company. Photo by Jonathan Mannion

New York City native Jon Contino has garnered considerable attention for his unique approach to design utilizing hand-drawn lettering and typographic illustration in conjunction with a modern, yet minimalistic sensibility. He works not only as a freelance illustrator, but also as Co-Founder and Creative Director of menswear brand CXXVI Clothing Company. Photo by Jonathan Mannion

Jon Contino: “My favorite places to find inspiration are with the people that I love around me. My wife and daughter, my parents, and my grandfather are all really inspiring people and just sitting and talking with them or watching them do their thing is something that really gets my mind going. The traditional forms of inspiration are great, but there’s nothing like really listening to someone’s opinion that you trust about the world around you.”

Illustrator, Educator and Maker of Things living and loving in Portland, Oregon

Kate Bingaman-Burt is an illustrator, educator and maker of things living and loving in Portland, Oregon

Kate Bingaman-Burt: “One interesting place I look to find inspiration is a little shop right down my street called SMUT (stands for So. Many. Unique. Treasures) It’s filled with a really excellent selection of used vinyl (with a listening station) and lots of good, organized piles of odd items (books, photos, magazines, movie posters etc). It is organized chaos at its finest and only 30 seconds from my house.”

Adam Garcia is creative director, designer and illustrator who runs The Pressure, a creative studio in Portland, Oregon

Adam Garcia is creative director, designer and illustrator who runs The Pressure, a creative studio in Portland, Oregon.

Adam Garcia: “I’d say that my new place to find inspiration is these improv classes I’ve been taking. Opened my mind in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and inspired me in ways I didn’t know possible.”

Rachael Novak is a graphic designer from Cleveland who does mixed media, digital illustration and print design. She is a Line Designer at American Greetings. Photo credit: Justyna Walker

Rachael Novak is a graphic designer from Cleveland who does mixed media, digital illustration and print design. She is a Line Designer at American Greetings. Photo credit: Justyna Walker

Rachael Novak: “I find most of my inspiration actually comes from bars. I find that having casual conversation with friend(s) often jogs a lot of ideas and hearing different perspectives helps solve problems when I get stuck, too. And doing it all over a few beers isn’t too shabby, either!”

derrick

Designer Derrick Castle owns clothing line Straw Castle.

Derrick Castle: “One of the places that I derive a lot of inspiration from is antique shops. I don’t know how “Out-of-the-Box” this is, but for me, I’ve always be inspired by vintage advertising and typography. I have several antique shops close to me that sort of take you back in time. These aren’t those old junk shops that have all your grandparents old broken down furniture and china. These shops take me back to vintage Americana… think American Pickers.

These shops have everything from old motor oil cans to vintage tobacco tins, vintage books to antique phonographs. I actually bought a 100 year old bottle of prohibition era medicinal bitters. These bitters were alcohol based and labeled medicinal in order to avoid the regulations of the Volstead Act. I love picking up items like this that have so much character and rich history, that is the pure definition of inspiration!”

Stewart Scott-Curran is an Art Director, Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Glasgow, Scotland who is currently based in Atlanta

Stewart Scott-Curran is an Art Director, Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Glasgow, Scotland who is currently based in Atlanta

Stewart Scott-Curran:  “I often get inspiration from watching my 4 year old daughter play. Young children tend not to be constrained by any preconceptions when it comes to making up games and as such their imaginations are free to run riot and create anything they like whether it makes sense in the real world or not. We tend to lose this as adults and I think we could all do well to look at things from a child’s point of view from time to time.”

Lisa Congdon is a fine artist and illustrator from San Francisco. Her vast catalog of work includes illustrations for Chronicle Books, Harper Collins Publishing, and Simon and Schuster, among others. See her speak at WMC Fest this year.

Lisa Congdon is a fine artist and illustrator from San Francisco. Her vast catalog of work includes illustrations for Chronicle Books, Harper Collins Publishing, and Simon and Schuster, among others. See her speak at WMC Fest this year.

Lisa Congdon: “I am an avid traveler, and it’s where I find most of my inspiration. Every year I like to go to a different country or city in the US and take tons of photographs that I then use to inspire my work for the next twelve months.”

Interactive designer, music aficionado, lover of things DIY, and a part-time dreamer.

Interactive designer, music aficionado, lover of things DIY, and a part-time dreamer.

Charlotte Tang: “As an interactive designer, I love creating aesthetically pleasing user-centric designs that cater to a specific target audience’s needs, behaviours, and habits. I find inspiration in exploring different personas, their actions and how they would interact with something that is essentially hand-crafted for them. I’ve always enjoyed creating personalized gifts and watching for that reaction; waiting for that click that resonates with the person and makes their day. I am grateful that my job allows me to fundamentally create these “personalized experiences” that is intuitive for the user.”

Sean McCabe has a passion for hand lettering and typography.

Sean McCabe has a passion for hand lettering and typography.

Sean McCabe: “The good ideas don’t come when you expect them. This means it’s important to always be ready to capture those ideas when they hit. I have a few categories in my to-do list app specifically for this purpose, so when inspiration strikes—maybe at a stop light or standing in line—I have an immediate place to chronicle the thought.”

“To be inspired, you have to create space for your mind to wander and relax. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is leave the office and go for a walk, or read a book. I get some of my best ideas in the shower. Whenever I get stuck on a project, I never force anything. In fact, I’ll carve out a time in my day to lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling. I suppose it’s not unlike meditating, though for me I simply just think. I give my mind the free reign to sit and process over all of its thoughts. Usually within a short time, I have that spark I need.”

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From where do you seek inspiration? Tell us in the comments section below. We’ll share your ideas on our Facebook page!

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About the Author, Go Media

Go Media is a creative agency based in Cleveland, OH that specializes in print design, branding, and web development. We are also behind WMC Fest, GoMediaZine, the Arsenal, Mockup Everything and others.

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