Tagged: inspiration

Design survival: Finding design inspiration outside the digital world

Mona LisaWith just a few years under your belt as a graphic designer, you’ve no doubt come across a time or two when you experienced a complete and total lack of creativity; a sort of designer’s block, if you will. If it hasn’t happened to you, you either haven’t pushed bounds of creativity yet, or you’ve been darn lucky. Either way, it WILL happen.

The best way to fight it is to seek-out and find creativity in places and things that you wouldn’t normally look for it. The key is getting your butt out from in front of the computer screen and into the real world. For some, it’s easy to do – for others, it’s not as simple. Where to go to look for inspiration? And where to find it once you get there?

Package design inspiration

Package design is one of the more difficult aspects of design. You’re dealing with three dimensions instead of the typical one. Dzineblog has posted a fantastic list of creative package design for your inspiration that I think is worth checking out!

Creative inspiration

If you’re looking get your creative juices flowing, two sites that are sure to inspire you are Ads of the World, and the AdGoodness blog. design inspiration Both sites feature ads from designers and agencies around the world, complete with clickable preview images that show you the big picture, reader comments, and more information about the advertisement. Both sites have been around for quite a while and are favorites of mine.

Inspiration: Beer packaging

Niki over at DesignO’Blog has posted the fourth edition in a series of packaging design posts, this time focusing on some awesomely designed Beer packaging for your inspiration. Niki left off my personal favorite (seen above), but the rest of them look really cool. Check out the visual beerfest, and remember, friends don’t let friends drink and surf!

Business card design inspiration

Card Observer is a new site that showcases business card designs for your inspiration. Much like LogoPond, a site that showcases logo designs, Card Observer offers readers the ability to view, comment on, and even submit their own card designs for the world to see.

Finding the perfect color combo

Looking for color combinations for your next Web project? There are plenty of these Web-based color combo sites out there, with my personal favorite being Adobe’s Kuler. Kuler is great in that it allows you to work with CMYK values, and upon completion, download an Adobe Swatch Exchange document you can import into all your Adobe Creative Suite applications. All the Creative Suite 4 applications have integrated Kuler into the program, so this option will most likely be the default for designers using Adobe products. Perhaps the king of color combo sites is Colourlovers, where there are countless color palettes already built, or you can create your own. You can also click a link next to each color to find photos using that color from iStockphoto. ColorBlender is a fairly straight-forward color combo site which allows you to create and share color palettes, and download files containing your colors for use with other design applications. A unique feature to ColorBlender (though I couldn’t get it to work) is the ability to match the color you create on screen to the closest Pantone color match. ColorCombos has yet another Web-based color combo exploration tool. Simply add a Hex color value into an input box and select the complimentary colors option. Simple! Virtually all color combo sites allow you to create and share your custom color palettes, so whichever one you choose, you probably can’t go wrong.

Cool site for package designers

Package design is a niche in our industry that gets little attention, even though it’s probably one of the coolest things to design and looks great in a portfolio. There are few resources dedicated to it, so when I came across The Dieline, I knew I wanted to share it with you. The site offers inspirational samples and articles about great package design, as well as design studio spotlights.

Does 9 to 5 = Average Designer?

If you haven’t yet worked for a real design firm/ad agency, you may not have been exposed to frequently working late hours, weekends or when you’re flat out of ideas. This is the agency life. People work at different paces, with different styles. But in a design firm, you have to “put in the work” in order to be great. IdeasOnIdeas has a an article titled 9 to 5 = average, in which the author comments on his belief that being great at design more or less *requires* you to state late, work harder than the next guy and essentially throw aside any hope of a balanced life.

Design is a particularly challenging profession at this point in history. It requires understanding of cultural issues, history, psychology, multiple media forms, ever-changing tools, and roles which can often mutate with time. Is it realistic for one to become an outstanding designer, working 37 – 40 hours a week?

The author of this article suggests that “balance” in your life leads to being an average designer. While I agree somewhat with the overall theory behind the article, I’m not sure my 20+ years of experience proves his theory correct. Being a designer requires a good work ethic and dedication. Being a great designer requires you to go the extra step. But what I’ve found is that you can stay late, work weekends and be as passionate as you can possibly be and there’s a very good chance you’re still going to be an average designer. Just like there’s a good chance that leaving the office at 5pm and having a well-rounded life outside the office will lead you to greatness. I subscribe to the theory that “I work to live, I do not live to work.” I think it makes me better at my job. Too many designers who make their career their entire life tend to make staying late and working weekends a badge of honor to be worn on their chest with pride. I consider it a badge of stupidity. Now don’t get me wrong, I think you have to be dedicated and willing to do whatever it takes to be great at your job… within reason. But just how great do you want to be? Just how great do you need to be? This is your career we’re talking about, not your life. Unless of course you let your design prowess define your life. Also remember that part of being a great designer (which is all about communicating with your targeted audience) is knowing the trends, interacting with people, visiting places and seeing “what’s out there.” You can’t do that sitting in your office, not matter how many free snacks are available or how many gadgets you have on your desk. As the owner of a design firm or ad agency, I would much prefer an office full of designers who rate a consistent 8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) who on occasion turn in work that makes them a 10 – rather than having an office full of 10s who get burnt out after 6 months and leave. I would rather have happy employees who look forward to coming to work each day and have life experiences to share. I do not want someone who has nothing to offer but their design, no passion beyond the work. This is a business about communicating with PEOPLE about their life. If you don’t have one of your own, it’s hard to speak to someone who does in a way that invokes passion.