Five (unlikely) resources for graphic design inspiration

Inspiration blossoms in surprising ways.  You just have to keep your eyes - and your mind - open.

Inspiration blossoms in surprising ways. You just have to keep your eyes - and your mind - open.

Inspiration is huge. For graphic designers, inspiration is everything. Just like a copywriter struggling with writer’s block, a graphic designer often needs a spark of inspiration. Many designers seek the work of others for inspiration, which is good; but original inspiration can be found in many other avenues as well.

Here are five of my favorite unlikely resources for graphic design inspiration:

1. The human story is the ultimate source of inspiration for all creative arts. Draw inspiration from historical imagery, subjects, people and events with the wonderful links on Best of History Web Sites.

2. For contemporary passions, performances, paintings and prints nothing beats the Museum of Modern Art. The museum’s website allows to you explore its collection or search pieces by artist or work name or thematic keyword.

3. They say laughter is the best medicine, and there’s no denying that more and more advertisements are using humor as a medium to identify with audiences. Get inspiration from EBaum’s World, a collection of funny videos, pictures, games, jokes and more. Just be careful that you don’t spend all day browsing the side-splitting antics on this website!

4. Plants might not have a brain, but yours will be delighted (and inspired) by the wonderful designs found in one of nature’s most diverse kingdoms. Browse or search plant images from the Noble Foundation, the USDA, the Botanical Society of America or the National Museum of Natural History to sew your own seeds.

5. When you’re trying to capture a very specific mood or ideal, philosophy serves as an excellent source of inspiration. The more you understand philosophical processes, the better you can tune in to your audience’s beliefs and desires. For a general overview, start with the Wikipedia Philosophy page. For a more in-depth study, consider taking a course at your local college or university.

Graphic design inspiration need not come from studying others’ work; it can be found in nearly everything you see, think, hear, feel, taste and otherwise perceive. No matter what you’re designing, it’s important that it speaks to human passions and appreciations. A jaunt through history, comedy, the natural world, contemporary art, or philosophy could be just the spark you need.

Where do you find inspiration? What unlikely resources can you add to this list?

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