Somehow, my first year at school I went around with the mistaken idea that good artists and designers just pulled their ideas out of their heads. (It seemed like a lot of my fellow students did just that...) Imagine my naive frustration when I'd feel like I'd spent hours in the library, looking through books on the Dada movement to prepare for a collage project, only to be thinking the whole time that I was doing it wrong. I wasn't feeling the concept or I was somehow "cheating" by drawing inspiration from previous artists and art movements.
Then, my typography teacher pointed out that she had collected papers and designs that caught her eye for years in spiral-bound notebooks. Whenever she felt a design block coming on, she'd just flip through these. Refresh, recharge and maybe find a concept or detail that clicked with the project she was trying to do. It was a total lightbulb moment for me! I had been doing this for years myself with fashion pictures; slipping them into little page protectors in three-ring notebooks and flipping through when I needed a little creative boost. Great design, I realized, rarely just "comes". It is the product of much study, learning to see, absorbing those visual stimulations and referencing them often.
So, after that little revelation, I've made a concerted effort to begin observing more accutely details, colors and textures that catch my eye. In some instances, I stick those into my FlickR favorites, in others they go into my inspiration notebook. I think for me, as a student of graphic design, I can never learn or observe too much about good or artistic design. Though I do need to concentrate my efforts on learning the basics of design (my type teacher likes to say that until you learn and respect the rules of typography, you can't break them), I feel that challenging myself to break free of my artistic inhibitions can never begin too soon. :)
Where have I been finding inspiration?
- Autumn leaves
- Old buildings
- Vintage fabric
- 1920s fashion design
- Colorful vintage book covers
- Large-scale, Edwardian-inspired "wallpaper" prints