4 Ways to Archive Inspiring Images

June 22, 2010

image via pacific-standard.blogspot.com

The other day I was writing about awesome die cuts and could not for the life of me find this one perfect example I had previously stumbled upon online. I spent a half an hour on Google Image search wishing I had saved that picture the first time I saw it. (I still haven't found it!) Setting up an inspiration archive can help keep inspiring articles, pictures and ideas within arms reach (and save you valuable time and energy). For designers, cutting out and saving inspirational images is especially important. When a client is describing the look and feel they want for their next project, the conversation may spark associations from other design materials that you've recently seen. Being able to pull an image file off of your computer or from a print archive and show it to the client will get the conversation moving toward a real design solution. Inspiration archives run the gamut from rudimentary cork-boards to hard copy file folders and digital archives. 1. The cork board approach An oversized cork-board with clippings posted all over it is a great if you are working as part of a team; that way users can share ideas and anyone can just reach out and grab a sample that resonates with them. It also shows visiting clients and colleagues your design values. 2. Keep a journal or scrap book For those who find a wall covered in colorful clippings to be too distracting, a print archive might be a better out-of-sight solution. Some creatives like to keep a scrapbook-style journal where they cut and paste inspiring images, fonts, illustrations and found objects daily. 3. Create a filing system Another solution is to set up a filing system organized either by date, color, industry or by media (photos, illustrations, fonts, web, etc). If possible, attach the clipping to a piece of scrap paper and note the date and source material. This way you can view an old photo, track down the photographer, look at her other work and maybe even hire her for future projects. 4. Start a digital archive Finally there is the digital archive. If you are keeping images digitally, it's best to set up a logical filing system, similar to the paper filing systems discussed above. File names are especially important. Start each file out with a category that says what type of file it is and then follow that either with a series of numbers or a more descriptive adjective. For example, the file name could be photo_rainstorm.jpg or photo_110.jpg. Invest in an extra hard-drive and a high-quality scanner to more easily manage your new digital archive. Happy archiving!

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