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The search for inspiration can be an interesting journey. Sometimes ideas just spark out of the blue, other times, you might have to go looking for something that will make you click and realize how you want to tackle your project. Nowadays, we are saturated with other peoples’ ideas. There are advertisements EVERYWHERE and we all use things that were designed for a specific purpose in a specific way everyday. Sometimes this can serve as wonderful inspiration to create. There are so many resources out there, all you have to do is search.

I always love hearing suggestions of good design books and blogs, so I decided to share some of the things I have been reading for information and inspiration recently. Hopefully some of you out there will enjoy these as much as I have.


Making and Breaking the Grid: Timothy Samara
This was bought on recommendation from a blog and it has turned out to be a great source of inspiration. Taking me back to the basics and making me realize I need to focus more on the structure of things sometimes. This book has history, examples, and grid breakdowns all throughout to help. Its basic purpose is to outline the grid rules and why they work, and then show interesting ways you can “break” the grid to achieve different design dynamics. Highly recommended as a desk reference.

Ignore Everybody and 39 other Steps to Creativity: Hugh MacLeod
This book just came out a couple weeks ago and I had it on pre-order. I love MacLeod’s blog The blog and the book are very entertaining reads. “You don’t know if your idea is any good the moment it’s created. Neither does anyone else.” This sums up the directness of his approach with this book. It is an interesting way to look at creativity and has fueled my inspiration recently.

Making the Invisible Visible: Hillman Curtis
Process, Inspiration, Practice, Hillman Curtis lays it all out in this book. I was told to purchase this by my first graphic design teacher and absolutely love this book. Curtis lets you into his head and gives some great practical advise for designers. It is a sincerely encouraging book and has helped me think about things in a new light.

History of Graphic Design: Philip Meggs
This one kind of goes without saying. In a sense this is the bible of graphic design, I was lucky enough to score a copy of this massive source of inspiration for free. They were upgrading to a new edition the semester after my History of Graphic Design class and did not know what to do with the old books so they just gave them away (if you were smart enough to ask). This is like my graphic design desk reference. Sometimes the freshest ideas can be inspired by designs of the past.


Just Creative Design
All I can really say is that Jacob’s blogs and design work are really impressive. I check this blog several times a week for updates and inspiration. He’s got a lot going for him.

The Design Cubicle
The Design Cubicle is a blog and it also showcases Brian Hoff’s portfolio. I visit here frequently because the topics are always informative and interesting.

Gaping Void
This is Hugh MacLeod’s blog. He is an interesting cartoonist/writer and he draws on the back of business cards. If the Ignore Everybody book from above caught anyone’s attention, you should check out the blog because part of the book is actually posted on his blog and you can read it.

Dzine Blog
This is a very well organized design blog that archives tons of great design resources. It is a great place to find inspiration, tutorials, templates, you name it.

Smashing Apps
This blog is a great resource for designers. Similar to Dzine Blog, there are helpful tutorials from time to time, and many posts that show off the creativity that people are capable of.

Not really a blog, but it is a great source of design info gathered all together for you. I suggest clicking on tags for, design, typography, inspiration, and illustration. You will find many helpful articles.

Inspiration Tips

This is just a handful of the places I like to visit, there are very many great books and blogs and helpful websites out there that can spark your imagination so continue to look and you will find more. Here are some more things to think about when stuck in a rut…

Look at other designers’ work, and study how it is made. Chances are, you have the same tools as them, so try to dissect their designs and maybe you’ll learn some useful skills. Also, analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their designs. It is usually easier to do this looking at others’ work instead of your own.

Take photos and/or look at stock photography. Think about what the photographer did right, and why it is a “good” image that other people might want to use.

Visit Museums. Coming from an almost 2 year background in museum work, I can definitely say that I have seen many inspiring pieces of artwork and continue to visit whenever I can. Having an appreciation for learning institutions and fine arts is a plus.

Sharing information and Networking. Having good resources and knowing people in your field are always a plus. Sometimes you need critical feedback from someone who really knows what you should be doing. It’s great to have someone to go to in those times to help bring out the best in your designs. And vice versa, help others when they need opinions and suggestions.

NEVER STOP LEARNING!!! This means exactly what it says. Be productive while you are here on this earth, and love every second of it.


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