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Inspiration – How do you get yours?

Alex Christie

24 November 2009

Whenever a great idea for design pops into your head, the chances are you’ve been inspired by something you have seen or heard. This is how design trends are formed – an imitation with a twist, taking the best elements of design A, a dash of design B and adding in your own creative mix.

What gives us inspiration?

This all depends on what’s on our minds at the time. If you’re a photographer and you see a photograph you like or a technique you haven’t seen before, you might think “I might I’ll try something like that” but at the same time think “I don’t like that part about it, so I’ll replace it with something else”. If you’re a graphic designer however, you might think “That’s an interesting use of typography” and try and illustrate something resembling it. The point is that whether you know it or not, you have been inspired by something that you’ve seen and most likely it has been drawn upon some of your work.

Does this mean people are really just re-creative? Regurgitating ideas they have already seen? Is this being creative and does it even matter if it looks good and does its job?

Are there any truly creative ideas?

It depends on how you view the world. I like to think that every idea is creative regardless of how it came about. The more important question would be ‘do I have any uniquely creative ideas?’.

Creativity can come from a variety of places and people. The question of uniqueness raises the point of doing something nobody has done before, but not necessarily doing it well. There have been some really interesting, creative and unique ideas but they just don’t ‘work’, either due to poor implementation or lack of thought behind it. There are many articles about such mistakes that are dotted around various design blogs as a warning to other designers not to make the same mistakes.

Someone will see these warnings / ideas and make them better, improve on them or incorporate the good aspects of them into their own designs.

Imitation is the best form of flattery

How true is this? It ultimately depends on the motive and the character of both parites involved. If someone copies you for their own benefit, then this isn’t creative or constructive.

If you like my work, then tell me. If you use it as inspiration for one of your designs then great! I want to see it so tell me. If you copy my work to such a degree that there is no creative input from your side then that is tantamount to plagiarism and I will lose all respect for you.

The bottom line is I want to inspire people and I want to be inspired. Most people in a creative industry feel the same which is why I enjoy working within it.

Save inspiration for later

Someone recently suggested I make a note of my inspiration in a digital scrapbook on my desktop and take screenshots of sites / designs that I like the style of and think I might be able to use later. That way I won’t just forget about something I have been inspired by, I will have a reservoir of inspiration that I can dip into every now and again to take out the best bits I need and tailor them into the current project.

Remember…

Design, no matter in what form, can be inspired and itself inspire.

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