in Design

Best Ways to Stay Inspired in Design

Copyright Dan Bogan

Graphic and web design are incredibly demanding professional fields. Every day, you are expected to generate creative ideas and utilize creative problem solving like it is a sixth sense. Some days, good ideas simply don’t come easily. Fortunately, you have a lot of resources and methods to help support your inspiration and creative thinking.

Collect Everything

There are tons of inspirational designs all around you. See a clever flyer? Snatch it, take it home, and file it (under a category you will remember when seeking inspiration). Better yet, if you don’t want to be encumbered by so much paper documentation and filing (that’s so 2005), snap photos of creative designs with your phone and save them in the cloud-based program of your choosing. I prefer Evernote for storing and organizing all of my visual inspiration.

Read Books

There are plenty of books on the topic of design. Sure, some of them are definitely worse than others, but even the worst ones usually have something to offer. Plus, you can always check out books from your library so that you don’t risk throwing your hard-earned cash away on a terrible design book.

Read Design Blogs

If you’re reading this now, you’re already off to a great start. There are countless design blogs out there, and you’re bound to find at least ten that really tickle your fancy. Once you find a blog you really like, check and see if they have a blogroll (list of related blogs the blogger reads) or search the archives for a resource post on design blogs. Of course, you can always email bloggers asking what good design blogs they read; most will be happy to answer, and may even write a post about it for their blog.

Find a Design Community

Particularly for freelance designers, joining a design community can be incredibly valuable and necessary. There are a variety of communities out there from closed networks to open networks; sometimes they are in forum format but really they range to just about any publishable format.

Take Classes

You don’t have to enroll full-time to learn new things about design. Many community colleges and local art institutes offer great classes at fairly low rates. Not only will you learn new design concepts and techniques, you will also find yourself in a close community of design instructors and peers.

Redesign Your Work and Others’

While you can gain a lot of inspiration from simply looking at other people’s design work, you can get even more out of it by trying to one-up their designs. Not only will you get a good idea of what works right in their design, you also get to think creatively about how you can improve the design. The same goes for any of your old design work except that it offers the even more valuable experience of correcting your mistakes so you don’t make them again.

Learn Something New

Whenever I’m stumped by a design, sometimes the best thing I can do is step away from the project and try out a new technique. Even learning something new that is unrelated design can help. Sometimes a little distance from a project is the best medicine.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.