Inspiration is a wonderful thing when you have it. I love the feeling that you get when a brilliant idea beams into your mind. Your heart starts racing and you’re filled with an undescribable elation that makes you want to burst.

Then there are the times when you search and search the cluttered cabinets of your mind only to be greeted by empty drawers. It’s usually worse when you’re under the constraints of the clock.

In times such as this I hope that the ideas listed below help slow down the seconds on the clock and help to turn the blank canvas of your mind into a bloosoming idea.

Take a walk

Keep a design journal

Research competitors

Colouring in books

Book covers



Look around. Look up. Look down.

Bookshops or library

Pursue a completely new approach

Old photographs

Cave paintings

Fashion through the ages

Google 1920s


Listen to music with your eyes closed

Watch people

Super8 & polaroids

Finger painting


Watch the stars & constellations


Fruit and veggies


Close your eyes and listen to the world

Ride a bus and make up stories about the people around you.

Watch kids play

Build something with legos


The little details

Rust, broken things, painted over textures

Flip through a dictionary or thesaurus

Doodle, sketch & draw


Aerial views

Old technologies

Draw without looking at the subject

Make a collage

Ink pads

Draw with a feather or a stick


Draw with your left hand


Packaging design

Use letters and words to create an image

Illustrate an emotion


Free expression



Cook something


Everything old is new again

Brain dump thoughts & ideas and make sense of them later

Open a thesaurus at random pages and discover interesting words



Paper dolls

Browse through a toy store, a hardware store

Conduct a survey

Flip through tv channels, only stopping for a few seconds on each channel

Watch a movie

Comic books

Childrends books

Go to the theatre


Distance yourself from the project for a few hours. Then come back to it with a fresh perspective.

A drive in the country

A random drive through the streets at night, dusk, dawn.

Visit a museum

Go to a gallery


Do something you normally would never do


Sea creatures & coral patterns

Ask lots of questions

The zoo

Look at old movie posters and printed advertisements & get inspired by colours, images and typography

Microscopic perspective



Find a place with peace and quiet

Look at religious artefacts from other cultures

Patterns in nature


Grab an object, any object and make it to anything it’s not suppose to do. Redefine it.


Create a mindmap

Google image search


Look, really look

Keep a dream diary next to your bed

Use different materials: paints, oil pastels, chalk, glitter, mud.

Look through the rear mirror in the car



Another way to kindle your inspiration is to set yourself projects, a couple of years back I set myself the task to take a photograph every day for 36 days and this is what I came up with…


Keep a visual journal. . .
I started keeping one at uni and have never stopped, my bookshelf now hosts about six of them. I stick stuff in it, scribble in it , paint in it, write in it.
They are one of my most prized posessions. I love flipping through them. Remembering old ideas and breathing new life into dormant ideas or concepts that never got used.

Research . . .
This is the key to creating great designs. You must know what your designing, who you are designing it for and why it’s being designed. It’s imperative that you understand the clients goal, the clients competitors, understand the products and services and most importantly find out what the end user wants.
If you do your research upfront you will be surprised at just how easy the ideas flow. It amazes me how many designers don’t do any research up front, they just create designs for arts sake. Design is about visual communication, if you don’t do your research how do you know what you are suppose to communicate to your audience?

Hoard . . .
Collect magazines, brochures, pamphlets, catalogues, packaging labels, leaflets, posters, clothing tags, wine labels, postcards, etc.
I have a huge box full of this sort of stuff, everytime i need some ideas, i sit on the floor and dig through it discovering things that I had forgoten.

Keep the concepts that clients reject . . .
Some times the best ideas never get used or sometimes you present a couple of fantastic ideas and one has to be added to the scrap heap. It’s great to go back to some of these with a fresh set of eye balls.

Take lots of photographs . . .
I love looking through that little rectangular shape at the world. It’s funny how things look different through a lense; close up, zoom out, zoom in, crop. And thank God for digital cameras! they sure save me a lot of money. I no longer have to pay to see my photos i can just download them on to my laptop.

Be inspired by other designers. . .
When ever i go to a website that i find visually interesting, I take a snap shot and store into an ‘inspiration’ folder on my machine. I have been collecting them for years. I categorise them under different themes such as retail sites, designers sites, great navigation, cool colours, business sites, etc.

Sometimes you just don’t have time to surf the web or your working in a place that doesn’t have an internet connection or the web is down. Having this sort of resource on your machine or a cd is a quick way to get some ideas.

Brainstorm . . .
A group of brains is always better than a single brain, but be sure to run a brainstorming session right!

Encourage wild ideas and defer judgement; never ever discourage an idea no matter how dumb you may think it sounds.

The beauty of these sessions is that someone elses idea can suddenly give you an even better idea.

My golden rules for brainstorming are:

1- Define. Clearly outline what it is that you are trying to achieve at the beginning of the session.

2 – Bring stimulating materials. This depends on the type of concepts that you are after, but you can bring large sheets of paper, crayons, plasticine, magazines for cutting up, competitors products, objects that are related to the theme of the brainstorm… the list is endless. Oh and don’t forget some snacks to munch on.

3 – Elect a scribe and number your ideas. Get someone to write every single idea on a whiteboard or giant post it notes. Set a goal of the number of ideas that you want to collect for the session. Aim for about 50-100 and number each one.

4 – Re-visit ideas. Once you have collected a bunch of ideas revist each one and narrow it down to a hand full of the strongest concepts. Push these further by looking at them from a different view point and discussing their merits.

5 – Explore and develop further. At the end of the session you should have at least a hand full of strong concepts that you can then conduct some research on and develop further.

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