The thing about inspiration

Getting inspired by something to create our next stunning piece of design or product for the digital era. We look what others do and wait until inspiration hits us hard, right?

Specific and perfect inspiration which helps us out finding the right solution for a product or design will never happen. If we consider that each unique design or UX solution is build around one specific problem of a company, product or brand it will not fit to our cases, unless we face the same identical problems and parameters. Which in fact will not be the majority of our cases.

Let’s face it, inspiration is in fact luck and happens always as a coincidence. Be honest, we all know when we have this special moment, the passion we develop and the hustle we run into, when we found something which perfectly enhances your project in any ways. That’s the inspiration in all its facets we’re all waiting and hunting for. The other times we work on projects and get the sh*t done. Working based on knowledge and past experience. Things which worked in the past will work on “every” single project.

But the question arises if we can enhance this luck in a comfortable way, since we don’t want work hard for it course. Easy as that: stop looking for inspiration!

Stop looking for inspiration

I love idea of not looking for inspiration in the classical, normal and linear thinking way. Like going on websites like Dribbble or Behance for example. Some people use these kind of resources as their holy grail and they always find their inspirational piece. Damn, good for you guys! I like the fact of loosing myself in other related fields where I’m not very familiar with, like animation, industrial-, editorial-design or architecture. Those fields always have something in common which can be reused in a clever and simple way in our own work. What if we use a Piet Mondrian painting to create website modules or design a piece of animation? What happens if the reference for our website typography comes from the titles of a movie or a magazine itself? What if the color palette comes from an architectural building we recently discovered? It could be a game changer and makes more sense than a typical and linear thinking research on a website, by thinking outside of the box and comfort zone.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.” — Jim Jarmusch

There’s said if you don’t try hard forcing your inspiration to happen, your research and inspirational path will be there more organic, fluid and random. You will gather more information and you will get in touch with more different kind of things which might inspire you in the end. Put yourself into those situations where you’re more likely to get it.

I know of course that each person is different and gathers inspiration through many different cases. It’s relative to each person and for me this process worked best so far.

Every detail counts

But is there a way to enhance our design, project or product while we are not seeking the big idea? The answer lies somehow how we deal with the design process in general and what’s the main goal of our project. It does not matter if the design itself may be basic and not a visual eye candy at all. If the communication is the right one, UX easy and simple why to change it. We’ve everything we need in the end. But if we think about how to be unique, modern, fresh we can find the answer in the details which may not be noticeable at the first glance. It’s about these tiny little interactions, subtle animations, touch or hover behaviours. If we have our final product communication everything right way, we can lose ourselves in the process of making subtle elements feel right. They are the delicious icing on the cake. In other words, we can create a stunning and unique piece of work if we think about the details.

My personal inspiration process

  1. Think of an editorial layout and architecture to create design grids
  2. Find a different, a fresh, typeface. Check out more alternative type foundries such as Lineto, Binnenland, Grillitype, Commercial Type to name a few.
  3. Watch GUI motion designs for some extra interactions and details. Users should “feel” the product and inhale the content in an easy and interesting way.
  4. Create a quick mood and style guide where you set colors, type and picture tonality in harmony
  5. Start designing

The most important thing in the end is that our personal development stagnates due the course of time. Some people are less curious and our attention is shifting since we rely on the past projects and on our experience and expertise. What worked once will work here too you might ask. Yes and no. If we don’t develop and challenge ourselves with improving our process, work and gaining new skills we will stick to our old habits and common design pattern. Of course, our work will feel, look and behave the same way. Get out of your comfort zone and stop looking for inspiration. Be curious in all facets and you will start seeing things from a different perspective and it will open your mind.