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As a graphic designer, one of your major challenges that you face on a daily basis is finding creative inspiration. Whether it be for your own project or that of a valued client, continually coming up with original designs and perspectives is a challenge. You may achieve inspirations for several days or weeks running and then it disappears. You feel like you’ve used up all your good ideas and the well feels empty. It is in those times that a disciplined approach to seeking out new inspiration is helpful.

There is no shame is seeking outside influences. All great art and design is inspired by something that came before, mixed with your own creative direction. The key to finding new forms of inspiration is identifying concrete ways of surveying the world around you. One can do that by looking at both time and space variants.

Sources of Inspiration

1. Time Perspective – Although you have a desire to have a forward looking original design, looking to different time frames can be quite helpful. There are many design styles that have been created over the decades. Whether it be baroque, romanticism, realism, art deco, cubism, minimalism, abstractionism, postmodern or digital art, each artistic style had its own style and approach. A closer look at the times that these different art styles flourished in can provide additional sources of inspiration. Another way to have time provide inspiration is to allow for your perspective to be influenced by the speeding up or slowing down of viewing time. High speed photography or slow motion video can be great perspective shifting mechanisms of inspiration.

2. Geography – While the internet is the seemingly easiest resource for your research, don’t limit yourself to just that which is found online. Removing yourself your traditional work and play locales, can introduce you to new layouts and designs that appeal to different needs, can be sources of inspiration. Whether it be the human constructed elements of a city’s architecture or wandering out in natural environments that are relatively untouched by man, each can create inspirational elements for you.

3. Music – Music has the ability to transport you to a different time and place. It infuses you with the melodic and lyrical creativity of the artist. Listening to different types of music than you are accustomed to can go a long way in changing your mindset and frame of reference for your current project.

4. Art – Similarly to music, viewing the art and craft of others with different perspectives can provide tremendous inspiration to you on your project. Whether it be at a museum or in a more commercial setting like a mall, or product design magazine, viewing other designer and artist work can provide new perspective and inspiration.

5. Space – Due to our human limitations of height and bi-pedal walking, we view our environment from a certain vantage point. Changing that vantage point can help alter your perspective. Going above, below, sideways or adding some filter that changes your perspective can help you to view your subject or project with a whole new perspective. Another way to change your vantage is to move closer and further away. Whether you move to a global or universal perspective, or magnify the subject to it’s infinite detail and underlying elements, both can give a new way of seeing your project.

6. Commercial – While I find the above choices to be more helpful to create original work of your own, another alternative is to view the work of competitors. Go to a mall, or a bookstore, or a library to view the work of other designers and commercial artists. Seeing their work in action, or reading it in a book or magazine can demonstrate other concrete styles that can provide inspiration.

A methodology of exploration and inspiration can be developed with each of the six areas mentioned. At different times or with different projects you may want to employ different ones when you run short on inspiration. Keeping your mind open and flexible in perspective will allow your innate creativity to shine through for each new project.