SxSW: A Field Guide to Design Inspiration

by Luke Wroblewski March 19, 2007

"Notes from the After the Brief: A Field Guide to Design Inspiration session at SxSW 2007 taken by Polly Ng:

How do you get inspired?

  1. Use history as a resource - learn about graphic design, how design has been impacted.
  2. Use typography forms to set the context - (ie. drawing from the history from the different style of fonts)
  3. Turn off your computer - use other mediums such as print media, silkscreening,etc. to design. Experiment. Use different coloring techniques and layouts
  4. Storytelling - Comic books, science fiction books have a story to tell but the actual physical book has a story to them too. The torn pages, "hand down" style and emotional aspects are also conveyed. Bring the tactile world into the digital world.
  5. Find a muse - from your wife, people and things around you, events Example: Created a birthday bash theme party called "Camp naked terror" - An engaging party where guests must dress up. Add a twist to the theme every year but continue with the general theme. It's challenging and fun for the guests too.
  6. Use restrictions and limitations - restrictions can inspire you and give you focus. Example: Write a daily haiku with the word of the day to remember the word following the 5 7 5 pattern. Example: Create a 48 film with the things around you (no set). Use whatever you have often leads to taking a difft spin on things. See the limitations as the opportunity to narrow the focus and get something done.

How do you maintain inspiration?

  1. "Design is not a thing you do. It's a way of life." - Alan Fletcher Your design has to have meaning. Read the book "The Art of Looking SIdeways" by Alan Fletcher.
  2. Keep visual archive of things that inspire you - it will reconnect you to the moment and bring the emotion back. a) keep sketchbook by your side - have records and can inspire you later.
  3. Exercise design - Be a design vigilante. If you think there's a bad design, redesign it! Make it better. Fix the wrongs of other people. If you love design, take it back!!! (ie. Redesign a bad lost dog flyer)
  4. Do Puzzles - do crossword puzzles and will start to see relationships and ideas. Check out the "WordPlay" movie directed by Patrick Creadon.