How To Find Creative Inspiration

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Starting a new project can be difficult at times; especially in those occasions where the project may not inspire you as much as others. Some projects may come easier to us than others based on our interest level on the subject matter.

As designers, we may find that at times we just have no idea where to start and we can get stuck in a rut. There are ways to work around this to inspire your creativity instead of just sitting there feeling defeated. Here are a few tips that may help you with the creative and conceptual development for a project.


Study the Creative Brief

A creative brief is there to help the creative team get the guidelines and the vision of the project. The brief should serve to offer clarity of the project, client goals, and even the timeline. If you don’t have one, this is the first thing you should be doing. Once you have the creative brief in hand, now it’s time to study it to make sure you fully understand all the guidelines and the vision of the project. Read it over a few times to see if it can spark some creativity in you and give you a starting point for the project.

Create a Mind Map

Something that I find helpful after reviewing the creative brief is to create a mind map based on the information provided on the creative brief. Take note of the most important aspects like the problem, possible solutions, and any other items that you feel embody the project. Filtering through all the extra information and seeing just the key ideas may make it easier to get a grasp on the project. It may also be helpful to have the information laid out in a more visual form than just a page full of blocky text.

Define the Most Important Words or Features

If you feel that you may need something even simpler than the mind map, you can just make a simple list of key words. These words can be emotions that the client wants their branding to convey, key elements, tone, or even colors. I find that writing each word on a sticky note and sticking them on the wall makes it easier to take in the information. It gives it more of a visual aspect and the information isn’t as jarring. It is easier to focus on each individual word so they can hopefully inspire you.

Conduct Additional Research

Sometimes it helps just to be a bit more familiar with subject matter and doing additional research will help to better familiarize yourself with it. Research the company and their competitors. Look at what kind of creative work the client already has out there and research their competitors to see what they are doing. This may help give you ideas on what you can do to help them. Having the extra information may give you ideas for solutions that you otherwise would not have thought of.

Create a Mood Board

One of my favorite things to do is to create a mood board. For this I just gather any inspiration images I can find online. I look for pictures of things similar to the project at hand or color stories that may inspire a design. If the project I am working on is a logo design, I try to look up other designs that may have similar imagery so they can help inspire me and guide me in what not to do. I collect these images and put them together like a collage. Seeing them together helps with comparing certain things and seeing how the colors work side by side to each other.

Sketch Out Thumbnails

By this point, you hopefully have a grasp on the project and are ready to start sketching. Try to do as many thumbnail sketches as you can. Remember, thumbnails do not have to be perfect; they are just for you to get your ideas down on paper quickly. A good practice is to set a timer when doing thumbnails. You may start by setting a timer for 10 minutes and drawing as many thumbnails sketches in that time. From there, you can look at what you have created and determine whether you need another round.

After all the conceptualization, you would ideally like to have 3-4 solid ideas that you can refine further into more detailed designs and eventually turn them into digital concepts.

Hopefully these tips help to guide you to the proper solutions and get you out of any rut you may be in, they have certainly helped me. If you would like to begin using a creative brief in your personal work or agency, you may download the fillable Creative Brief Template PDF here .

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