Sources of graphic design inspiration

07 September 2018 by Mary Faughnan

Every year, the designers here at Learning Pool venture off on our annual excursion to Dublin to attend the magnificent design conference Offset.  

This is arguably one of the world’s most important creative events. A weekend full of insightful talks by designers from many different disciplines, such as illustration, animation, film making, editorial and advertising. We return back to the office motivated, inspired and ready to create!

To sum it up, one of the fan reviews on the Ticketmaster website stated:

“Offset was like throwing my head into a washing machine at full speed and coming out fresh, highly spun and ready to jump into projects fully inspired!!”

So why is this sort of inspiration so important? And where can you find inspiration from on a daily basis for your own design projects? As a designer, looking at high quality, beautiful, clever design gives me something to aspire towards. There is a wealth of inspirational websites and blogs online to feed your creativity. Here I’m going to let you know some of my favourite go-to sites. Whether you need ideas for illustration, typography, photography or layout, hopefully one of these should inspire!

1. Daily Inspiration

My first source of daily inspiration is a Chrome plugin called Muzli. Every time you open a new tab your screen fills with all sorts of gorgeous content that you can modify to your own tastes. There are illustrations, logos, web design, layouts, logos, articles and much more. It’s updated daily so it will keep you informed on design news and trends. The only downside is it is easy to get distracted when you open a new tab as there’s always something new to see and explore.

I have set my preferences to include updates from lots of fabulous blogs and sites, such as Dribbble, Behance, Bored Panda, Design Milk, Swiss Miss, Creative Bloq and many more.

2. Photography

Finding good quality stock imagery can prove time-consuming and costly. However, there are some amazing sites that offer you a feast of beautiful, professional photography for free!

Some of the best include:

All these sites offer images with lots of different themes and styles. Definitely worth having a look through!

A quote from the Death to the Stock Photo’s manifesto:

“Our mission is to resource the creatives with tools they can use for their projects, teach them what we know, and consistently fuel them. We believe that everyone can be an artist, because being an artist is an approach to your craft rather than a title you acquire.”

3. Colour

If you’re in need of a colour scheme, there are many techniques that designers use, such as capturing images on the go by taking photos of beautiful colour schemes and bringing these into Photoshop or Illustrator. You can also find inspiration in nature, interior design, fashion and the world around you.

However, if you need to find a colour scheme quickly, there are also some very useful sites out there that offer inspiration and tools for you to create your own unique palette.

For inspiration on colour schemes and just about everything else, Pinterest is a very useful reference. The site has an impressive amount of colour palettes uploaded by creatives throughout the world.

An important resource for colour ideas and creation is Adobe Color CC. You can create your own palette and browse thousands of colour combinations. You can explore colour using tools and the camera on your phone or iPad. There is an active online community offering advice and inspiration. Also, any colour schemes you create can be saved to your Creative Cloud Libraries to use in your own designs.

Color Dot is very quick and easy to use. You basically move your mouse around and click to create your own individual swatch palette. It’s a good way to see what colours work together and it’s fun too.

4. Typography

Whether you’re looking for typographic inspiration or to download a good quality font, there’s lots of good sites out there to explore.

For inspiration on type and layouts, check out:

Incredible Types offers a curated collection of type design from branding, packaging, editorial and many more. The site boasts that it has:

“426 pieces of inspirational design in our showcase, from 432 creatives and studios from 51 different countries”.

Anyone who loves type can spend quite a bit of time browsing through all the beautiful designs on here.

Friends of Type is a blog featuring lots of original typography examples from a group of four designers. The focus of this site is mainly expressive and creative hand lettering but also features animated, print and digital examples.

For downloading good quality fonts:

After Google Fonts, Font Squirrel is probably one of the best sites for finding hand-picked, high quality fonts. Best of all they are free for commercial use too. It’s very easy to view and download fonts and they can be embedded in web pages and also used in print designs. There’s also a font identifier if you are looking to find a particular font and don’t know its name. A definite go-to site for all designers!

Typewolf is a site that helps designers find font combinations. It’s really practical as it shows fonts in use on actual websites, as well as background info and personal recommendations for similar fonts.

5. In conclusion

These are just a few of my favourite places to find inspiration and resources for my designs. There’s a wealth more for you to discover, especially by following good blogs and websites. There’s also lots of really groundbreaking designers who you can follow on their portfolio sites or via twitter. Canva has a great list of some designers that should inspire you.

So to sum it up, feed your creativity online, attend design conferences if you can, follow the work of great designers, visit art galleries, watch good films, read thought-provoking books and take in as much from the world around you as you can. Then fearlessly create something totally unique and inspired of your own

Mary Faughnan
Graphic Design Manager

Mary is a Graphic Design Manager, based in Learning Pool’s Derry office. She manages a great bunch of lively and talented creatives, who are responsible for all design outputs across the business. The team pride themselves on producing high-quality designs, innovative solutions and engaging content. Mary has been working in Learning Technology since 2013, prior to this, she worked extensively in the Arts, Events Management and Community Art projects. One of her proudest achievements is winning the prestigious Derek Hill Award for Art and Design in 2012.

In her own time, Mary loves art and music. She’s an avid gig-goer and record collector.

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