Design Inspiration. Finding a Creative Spark.

Feb 11, 2013 by

This entry was written by , one of the OxonDigital members. The author's views below are entirely their own and may not reflect the views of OxonDigital.
Design Inspiration. Finding a Creative Spark.

Ok, so you’ve done your research, investigated your audience, plumbed the depths of the brand guidelines and are ready to start a project, now its time to find the design inspiration and that ‘creative spark’. Most projects have a degree of constraint to them, but boundaries are there to be explored, and its an opportunity at the beginning of a project to think with freedom, and invent new and original graphics. A real juggling act to bend the content to fit a new look, but with the flexibility of html 5 and css much is possible.

We are all subject to habits, no more so than on the web, you see trends starting to evolve and soon that is what you are seeing all over the place. Sometimes influenced by the underlying technology, but often down to budgets and the speed with which things need to be turned around.

This month I thought I’d share some of my favourite design inspiration givers, books, links, albums … it can come from anywhere, but here are a few that I find myself looking around when I need to find a creative ‘spark’.


There are many, many place to scan around on the web but I find these two sites a constant source on inspiration.

Design Inspiration – A fantastic website that you can get lost in for a long while, but what I like about this one is that it covers a number of mediums, from business cards to architecture.

Webby Awards – The webby awards are great for looking for specific web design categories and interface design, innovative and a more focussed approach.

One of my favourite sites at the moment is simple graphics, great use of html 5 and a fun design.

Books and Magazines

For the ability to just scan and look in a relaxed ‘not in front of the screen’ way I have a couple of favourite design books.

Graphic Design – First to mind is Communicate: Independent British Graphic Design a massive collection of British graphic design from paperback covers to road signs. The design work of Alan Fletcher is guaranteed to get the thoughts flowing with books like The Art of Looking Sideways or Beware Wet Paint.

Product Design – Also for more 3 dimensional and packaging style design 1000 Graphic Elements – Details for Distinctive Designs great if you are thinking more ‘materially’ for print or specific pieces of artwork.

Current Trends – For constant updates on ‘web thinking’ I subscribe to and refer to both great for latest trends and practical application.

Album Art

Find something that you love visually and indulge in it …

Peter Saville – I love classic album art, one of my favourites being the work of the legendary Peter Saville and there is a great collection of his work in Factory Records – The Complete Graphic Album. Probably his most classic is the Joy Division Album cover, but many there many more for New Order, Duritti Column, Happy Mondays not to mention a multitude of posters for Factory Records. All share strong imagery, colour and a very graphical approach.

Hipgnosis – Other source of great album art comes from Hipgnosis – with a catalogue of great visuals to choose from including work for Pink Floyd. I always have a couple of albums up on the wall and at the moment (I just looked) and its Pink Floyd – Meddle and a Susumu Yokota ep – love it.

Nature and Photography

Its all ‘out there’ for the asking. Just wandering around with you eye tuned in for shades and colours can really start the wheels turning. I make a habit of collecting colours and shapes, abstract forms. Starting to work with organic shapes can really bring originality into design work, and the biggest colour palette of all is sat outside the window. I’ve been storing images on Facebook and iPhoto for convenience, but there is no doubt a better way of storing them, suggestions welcome here …

Magnum Photos – For pure imagery, aesthetics and imagination – there is the amazing collection of imagery by the Magnum Photographers and specifically the work of Henri Cartier Bresson to tune in to.

Modern Art

Tate Galleries – Then there’s always a visit to the Tate or a modern art for pure visual indulgence … and just time to get away and think and walk. Tate Modern and Tate Britain both have great exhibitions on at the moment – this year can’t wait to see the work of Kurt Schwitters at the Tate Britain, and last year Miro, Yayoi Kusama and Gerhard Richter were standout for me.

Your Thoughts ?

It would be great to hear ideas from other Oxon Digital Members. What gives you visual inspiration ? What websites have you seen recently that really left an impression ? Do you have any great inspirational links that you would like to share ?

Define Media - Creative web and graphic design services. Follow Maria on Google Plus.

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