This is dedicated to all those designers that may find themselves in solo land. Whether working for a small team, inside the corporate wheel but without other designers, or contracting from your silo of a home base. At times, you find yourself looking at the same designs, the same inspirations, and the same old same old. It’s not all bad. All is not lost. So where do you find new inspiration?
Use your friends! Find new ones.
What’s the use of having friends in design if you don’t tap their collective cerebellum? The social network is an amazing invention. It lets you move with lightning speed through the internet, employing your network of friends as filters. I find, that the younger of my acquaintances in my field are about 10x more likely to find cool and inspirational things than I am. I admit it, I’m a part of the daily grind at times and don’t invest nearly enough time into keeping things fresh for myself. And it’s in these moments that I rely on these friends out there in the real world to help me keep my design goggles on full throttle. Follow their tweets, read their Facebook posts, IM them, click on links they send you because they think it’s cool, anything to keep your mind inspired by different things. I am constantly learning about new technologies, techniques, and inspirations that can help me keep my own designs fresh and unique.
There are ton of great designers out there. And if you don’t know them, click the “FOLLOW ME” link on their site. I’ve been hard pressed to find great designers who aren’t willing to share some facet of their technique with others. There used to exist a “web ring.” Technically, it never went anywhere. But in this specific iteration, it existed for websites to connect to one another. Literally, you would have a short list of websites at the bottom of your page. This list of sites looked similar across all the websites that were connected to the ring. Often times, it was just a series of links that took you to something you had no interest in reading. To be fair, I GUESS you could say it was related to the original site you were reading. This was one way to surf the web and just see what was out there. Early on, you would simply follow hyperlinks all over the web. There was no de facto search engine. And in those days, there weren’t really too many things to search for. But it was fun just to click and click and click until you found yourself on some ungodly site or the coolest thing you’ve ever seen (a rarity.) Today, social networks help you surf from a distance. As lazy as it sounds, you’re letting others do the work, finding the latest trend in design, and then checking it out for yourself. And for the most part, those curiosities tend to lead you down your own paths of discovery. And it’s THOSE times that you return the favor to your friends. Ah, the circle of life.
Do your own research.
If all else fails, get out there. Pick up a magazine. Go to an art gallery. Find something/someone you like in the design realm and do some research on it. Reach outside your comfort zone. Research another field! Into Flash design? Pickup a photography magazine. Into desktop publishing? Pick up a book on new technologies? Anything to stimulate your brain from thinking down the same old road of design you’re used to. I’ve often found myself churning out the same old icons, backgrounds, buttons. Why? Time plays a factor, certainly. If I’ve got 10 projects to get out the door in 1 week, I can’t spend time getting inspired. I’ve got work to do! OK. This happens more than I’d care to comment on. HOWEVER, do make time. Even the slightest inspirations can get the wheels turning in a different direction and breathe new life into your designs and purpose in life. 🙂