Thoughts on Design Inspiration

Steal Like an Artist


“Hey Emily, could you write a blog post about where you get your design inspiration?” That is not an easy blog to write. In fact, to that question, I want to use a quote from Jim Jarmusch…

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.’”

That’s what I try to do in my everyday life. I feel that no matter where I am, or what I’m doing, design is always staring me in the face. Being observant of the things around me makes me a better designer. I take pictures of old fashioned signage on the street, rip out pages from interior design magazines, watch videos of makeup artists, and scroll endlessly through Pinterest. Inspiration should come from all aspects of your life; fashion, music, home decor, society, sports, everything! It is a collection of these observations that allows me to know what’s happening in design, today.

Going through life with an open mind, and then questioning why that resonates with yourself is crucial to staying current in the design world. You can see significant changes in just the past few years. Everyone wants a simpler life, and design is echoing that by becoming cleaner and easier to digest.

Technology is always changing and design is right there with it. Users expect their devices to work a certain way, and adapt to their lifestyle. When I go to concerts, I observe — not only the band, but the crowd. I examine what people are wearing, how they are using their phones, what it is about this person that is making them stand out to me amongst a sea of people? That is a source of inspiration to me.

Ideally, I get my inspirations from the world itself, but sometimes I need a focused area of like minds. I need a place that caters to my design needs and serves up a smorgasbord of great ideas. When I find myself tied to my desk and need a jolt of inspiration, I have a few places that I turn to online.

Pinterest
I feel this site is often overlooked or simply thought of as a “girly” site. Sure, you can get great tips on everyday life hacks, but the design boards are endless and a great way to spend a few hours.

Houzz
Yes, this is a home design site, but shouldn’t great design be reflected in all aspects of your life? I see so many current trends translated into the home through this site. A great resource for environmental design, and, of course, keeping a cute home.

FFFFOUND!
This site has everything. Check it daily, hell, check it twice a day. This is a great resource for traditional art, environmental art, illustration, digital work, you name it, it’s on this site. Watch out for the boobies, but that’s also great art, right?!

Instagram
Really!? Quit trying to validate your addiction to another social media platform. Seriously though! Instagram is what you make it. If you follow the right people, you can easily get a steady stream of very inspiring pictures. I follow people that specialize in fine art, makeup, print work, fashion, and Lindsay Lohan (that train wreck is just for me)!

Design inspiration is everywhere, not just in design books or at museums. Inspiration can be found in everything that you come into contact with — it’s up to you to notice it and reflect on it. You must take that inspiration and turn it into something more authentic. Make the “Average Joe” find inspiration in your work, and then want to steal it.


Originally published on Forest Giant’s blog.

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