7 Great Sources of Design Inspiration

Creativity is the designer’s fuel, and like any fuel, can sometimes run low. Here are 7 great places (and ways) to keep the creativity tank full. 

What inspires that creativity? It all depends on the individual, whom may be inspired from the work of their favorite artist to their own personal past failures. Everyone has something, but here are seven sources of inspiration all designers can put to good use.

Design Communities

Just about every niche has a community built around it and that community can usually be found somewhere online—the design field is no different. Behance, Dribbble, and COLOURLovers are a few of many sites that harbor communities allowing professionals to showcase their work and collaborate with other designers. These particular sites are set up so potential clients can browse through portfolios, even connect with professionals; whom are likely drawing inspiration from your projects.

Print Publications

While many designers operate almost entirely from a computer, life exists outside of the digital realm. And even though many printed publications are taking a backseat to their online counterparts, don’t sell them short on inspirational value. The inspiration you find in traditional magazines like How or Print can fuel the fire for projects on or off the laptop. In some cases, the content you see in a print magazine can be more inspiring than the copy on your computer screen.

Social Media


On first glance, the average social network likely is not much to look at; despite being overly simple in presentation, social media sites can be great sources of inspiration by nature. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks that allow members to create groups are essentially providing platforms that bring like-minded people together to share thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Use these groups to discover new trends or discuss recent challenges faced by the design community.

Shopping Malls

The average shopping mall is a dynamic pool of diverse designs. From the jewelry store and toy store that run parallel to the numerous shops in the food court, window displays and kiosks, there is creativity all throughout the building. A simple trip around the local mall can be very inspiring when taking in all the different shapes, colors, and patterns (also take note of all the different advertising techniques). Even if it’s standing around the wishing well or engaging in a game of people watching, open your mind and you’re bound to find something.

Marketing Content

Have you subscribed to receive a newsletter or regular email communications from a company? If so, then all the inspiration you need could be sitting in your inbox. Email marketing has come a long way, and brands tend to get pretty creative with their designs, so think twice if when you are throwing them into the trash. This is especially the case when they are trying to take advantage of holiday opportunities such as Valentine’s Day, Fourth of July and Christmas. Whether it’s scrolling through your inbox or paying closer attention to the adverts online, take in the marketing content you encounter. You may find yourself inspired.

Business Cards

Don’t laugh—the business card still wields a lot of power in the digital realm. Today’s business cards are highly creative, with many of them using QR codes, creative shapes, exotic paper, and other innovative touches to stand out from the crowd.  At the very least, they are a phenomenal source of inspiration for creative minds searching to branch out. Even if technology has you feeling like you never need to pass out another one again, remember that the trends in business cards can help you stay creatively sharp.

Your Imagination

In some instances, there is no need to look any further than ourselves for that creative fire. Designate somewhere you can sit and reflect without distraction. Keep a pen and pad nearby so you can jot down thoughts when they come to you. Maybe your notes start off as a random pile of thoughts. Maybe you find yourself doodling away with what appears to be nothing of substance on first glance. Over time, this simple ritual can help you get the creative juices flowing and come up with some of your best design ideas yet.

Even the most creative minds run low on energy and need recharging from time to time. When that moment comes, you can either sit back in a funk, or take the initiative to find your creativity. Luckily, the sources of inspiration you can turn to in these down times are abundant. Whether on or offline, there are plenty of things ready to stand in as the straw that keeps the juice stirring. It’s all about reaching out and grabbing them.

Where are some of your favorite places or sources to get inspiration? Sound off in the comments below!