Inspiration from the Viewpoint of a Graphic Designer

Design starts with an idea, born in the head of creatives in the shower are at 3:00 A.M. They quickly rush to a pad, grab a pencil, and start to sketch. But what if no idea comes? What if a job is presented, but not a good idea along with it? Designers in the second anecdote, pretty much all designers at a certain point, then turn to a source of inspiration with the absence of an idea. Inspiration can present itself in many different forms and styles, whether it be a website or a magazine, or a dream. When designers sit and think and wait for an idea that never comes, inspiration becomes vital. 

But another question is posed when it comes to inspiration. While it may not be direct, many designers copy other work they see. They may not make their graphic to look exactly like one they see, but they might take certain ideas and make them their own. They take credit for the idea when it isn’t fully theirs. Now granted, that is always a risk of putting work on the vast internet: if it’s not stolen, it is most likely copied. Many designers do almost exactly copy to suit what they are using the graphic for. It is a challenge as a designer to be totally original, even if you do not look directly at inspiration when working, When that dazzling, stunning piece of design is found, the image, the idea, the method sticks. It may not prevail itself right away, but may come out later, absolutely subconsciously. 

So what should designers do? If they are constantly faced with the trouble of being unoriginal, then they are just mere thieves. Although that term is deemed a bit harsh and stereotypical, it is in some far fetched way true. Every designer is guilty to it. Sites exist simply to feed designers with their starvation for good design and good ideas, which is a beacon of light in a world of cluttered and dull design.  Is it even worth making a big deal about something that everyone as a designer does and will continue to do until they die or until they move to the Bahamas with a nice young woman? Designers are expected to stay updated on the latest design styles and trends or techniques. It is hard to be totally original in a design sense. You will always take an element from modern design trends or from a poster you see. It is impossible.

Inspiration is not held to just design, but sports, writing, music, and millions of other things. It is really applied in any sort of activity in some display. Inspiration is commonplace. People look at a professional athlete and say “Look how he pivots his foot! I should do that!” or they hear musicians and think “Wow, I love the way that note swings into the next note.” Inspiration, as with many other things, cannot be avoided. That poses the valid question…should it be?

The reality is, inspiration stimulates the world. It makes us better not only in the sense of hobbies, but as people. Quotes, people, or other things plant moral or political ideas that stay embedded inside the brains of human beings. Despite the negatives to inspiration, it still serves a vital role in the design process. It gets creative juices started and improves design sense and ideas. The design industry would be nowhere without inspiration. No industry would be at the state it is now in modern society. Without inspiration many designs might have Old English fonts and floral patterns-okay some still do, but they shouldn’t. Those designers have not utilized the valuable tool of inspiration. Designers need to use inspiration as part of their design process. Design is equal parts inspiration, idea, technique, and vision. If any part hides behind the curtains or steals center stage, it is most likely not effective design. Inspiration is not evil unless it is overused. Inspiration should play a subtle role in art and design, and any other hobby. As the brilliant Thomas Edison said

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

Inspiration is a bright and dazzling star, but it cannot become as big as the sun. It must be controlled and subtle, but still vital. Inspiration should not find us copying, but creating. Inspiration can ruin designers, or develop them into a star. A challenge still stands. For the next week, inspiration should be forgotten, and projects should be created solely from the minds of designers themselves. A break from inspiration is just as healthy as using it, and a challenge is even healthier. Inspiration starts with ideas, and for the next week, ideas will become inspiration, not inspiration becoming ideas.


“Design is equal parts inspiration, idea, technique, and vision.”

Caleb Minear


I am going to start doing more posts like this in the future so as not to just showcase my work but also to help mentor other designers.


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