Finding creative inspiration is an art in itself. As a designer, I challenge myself daily to reach outside of the realm of graphic design to find new ways to be inspired. Looking beyond your native artistic medium is a great way to push out of your creative comfort zone. It’s not always easy—but the majority of my best work has been influenced by something beyond graphic design—whether it’s music, architecture, or industrial design.

As with most designers I know, music is massive for me. I would have loved to have been a musician, but I just wasn’t blessed with those abilities. Anyone who has ever heard me sing will adamantly agree. It’s not that I’m tone-deaf—I can definitely hear that I sound ridiculous—I just can’t get my voice to go there. Couldn’t really cut it on the guitar either. Instead, I view design as my outlet for creating music. When I’m visualizing a concept, I associate it with a particular musical genre. Every one of my designs has a soundtrack. This helps me to cultivate a diversity of style.

Architecture is another ongoing stimulus in my process, especially when creating logos or letterforms. The playful geometrics of Frank Lloyd Wright and the crisp, long lines of Richard Neutra have been influencers for some of my favorite projects, and will maybe motivate the home I dream of building someday. Hopefully.

Interactions with everyday objects can bring about sparks of ideas as well. I find that great design and bad design alike can be inspiring. Great industrial design, especially items created by the quintessential (and often-cited) Eames and Dieter Rams of Braun, go without saying. However, bad design triggers a different kind of emotional response—there is a fervent desire to make it better. This can be equally or even more inspiring than the great.

Create art that creates. I don’t know any artist who wouldn’t admit that they are standing on the shoulders of other artists. Whether you are a musician, painter, architect, graphic designer, filmmaker, writer—think about who is or will be looking to you for their creative inspiration.

 

*Featured image: David & Gladys Wright House

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