Catch Your Inspiration

October 12, 2011

By Tad Fry

It’s easy letting excellent design pass us by. Ridiculous amounts of things compete for our attention through the day, and we discard most of them. But then out of nowhere we see something catch our eye—we take notice. We might spend an extra 5 seconds or even a minute looking at the thing that grabbed our attention, but… alas… it too, likely fades from our thoughts. Don’t let this happen. Those things that caught your eye are often inspiring, and you can’t afford to let them get away. Capture that inspiration.

It’s important to collect inspiration so you can reference it during a creative slump. Motivation kicks in as you reflect on work that made you look twice. Furthermore, it’s an awesome puzzle trying to solve what’s inspiring about the item that… inspired you. Which fonts, colors, copy, alignment, textures, made the piece punch you in the face and say, “Hey, look how awesome I am!”

You need a place to store this inspiration. Flickr, WordPress, or Tumblr could be used. Make sure whatever you choose has a way to handle the different types of items you want to collect. Are you just collecting images? Or do you want to capture inspirational text as well? Ensure you tag & title your items so you can find them easily as your library grows.

What you use to catch your inspiration depends on the types of items you collect. If you only want to collect signs, then your camera phone will do fine. Screenshots will work as well. And then there’s the obvious, copy & paste text or images. Whichever you decide, make sure it’s insultingly easy to put what you catch into your library. Have a specific camera application on your phone automatically upload to Flickr. Send quotes or text to a designated e-mail address. Or simply have everything go to your blog to handle the different types of inspiration.

Here’s some examples if you’re a visual person like me. The Drawar Collections are awesome and are broken down by category. Rogie King dedicates a tag for inspiration on his blog, and has great commentary on what inspires him. I’ve started collecting Logos & Trademarks and Signs on Flickr, but I think a blog might be best so I can put quotes and text as well.

I seriously want you to act on this. Do it. It ends up being a great meta game to your day, and you’ll always have a reference that personally inspires you. Share your findings with your friends to begin design discussions. Give yourself exercises with what you find; recreate the elements to dissect the design choices that went into building the work. Have fun collecting and learning from your inspiration.