Musings: Where do you get your inspiration from?

As a designer, my life seems to revolve around analysing design – graphics, interiors, art, homewards, architecture, beauty, food, you name it! I spend a lot of time on Instagram and Pinterest, sometimes aimless looking at pretty things, sometimes looking for direct inspiration for my work and projects. In the back of my mind though, I’m conscious of trying to not let something I love have such an impact that you can tell where I got my inspiration from.  I don’t ever want to appear that I’ve copied someone, as I pride myself on creating original work, but as styles evolve from previous styles, is anything ever truly original? There are rules breakers out there, who are lords of design. They push boundaries, explore and experiment and come up with things most designers envy – why can’t I come up with something like that?! Most of the time it’s due to time and resources, but sometimes it’s because we get so swept up with something we love it’s hard to come up with something completely original.

The law on copyright is really interesting but still blurry.  Work isn’t copyright even if it closely resembles others but is original.  So comes back to what is original?  I have Sharon Givoni’s book, Owning It, and she states “.. originality can be simply understood as any tangible results of independent thought, skill and effort”.  Work needs to be independently created.  Still blurry hey?  While part of your job to keep up with trends and research new client’s competition, you can sometimes subconsciously be influenced by what you see and carry that through to your work.  It’s part of the design process for not only graphic designers, but all designers and artists.

So where can you find inspiration that doesn’t involve looking at something directly similar to what you’re trying to create? This is going to sound predictable, but nature. And I don’t mean to find a clear mind and inner peace, but nature offers patterns, textures, lines, colour, gradients, symmetry, randomness and endless shapes. When you start noticing things around you that don’t come from a screen, your options for originality open.

I’ve been conscious of this lately, so have been trying to be more attentive of my surroundings, and scribble things down when I get an idea. It’s a work in process, and a discipline I want to work on.  I’ve recently taken on a new client where there was a bit research to do beforehand.  Instead of the standard market research, I looked to the target audience and sourced inspiration around me, while still using traditional mediums, i.e. the internet!  It lead me what I think is some more successful concepts.

So where do you get your inspiration from? Do you find it a challenge to not always rely on the internet to source ideas?  Or do you have other methods? I can imagine fine artists find it harder to create original work, as part of their industry is to be scrutinised.  I’ve studied art and design on and off for quite a few years, so have learnt a discipline in how to create original work.  But when creating work in a short time frame, a lot of those processes go out the window.  Designing really is a skill that needs practice, patience, and perseverance.

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