When looking for inspiration for design, it’s really hard to pin it down to a single person, design or designer. It’s a very subjective topic and changes depending on the person.
For me I take inspiration from lots of different areas in my day to day life.
From a billboard walking down Northumberland Street, a shop window or a new piece of packaging that I see on the supermarket shelf. Inspiration for me normally comes when I least expect it, rather than when I go hunting it down.
As a designer this probably isn’t the greatest thing to say…
But I don’t actually follow or take inspiration from other designers very often.
Yes there are people’s work that I find very interesting, for example Rob Janoff (the creator of the Apple logo), Josef Müller-Brockmann (iconic Swiss print designer) and Shepard Fairey (the creator of Obey) just to name a few.
However, for daily inspiration in my own designs, I much prefer seeing work in real-world applications.
Design work isn’t just about looking aesthetically good on a screen. It’s about how something works in practice.
- Does it answer the brief?
- Does it resonate with you?
- Does it communicate well with its audience or demographic?
- Does it have a clear goal and call to action?
For me form should always follow function.
You don’t know how good a design is until you can interact with it first hand and see it for yourself.
One of the main areas of inspiration for me comes from other design agencies. Being a brand designer at Canny, we always find it really interesting seeing the work that other people create (especially branding).
It’s really nice to see how other agencies tackle and showcase the client work that they do. Often seeing not just one piece of design, for example a logo, a poster. But instead how a creative idea gets pulled across a full brand identity. As it’s really easy to create one nice design.
However this doesn’t always correlate across all brand elements quite as nicely.
Pinterest, Dribbble and Adobe Behance
I am forever taking time out to have a scout around Pinterest or Dribbble, looking though image after image trying to extract some design wisdom. However, for me I use these to gain ideas into a very specific aspect of a design.
A benefits section on a website, for example. Seeing how other designers have structured, formulated or laid out sections is very interesting to me.
Another great source of online inspiration which I use often is Adobe Behance. This is a really nice site that showcases a range of designs, from one off pieces to full brand identities across multiple design sectors.
It also shows a mixture of both agency, freelance and non professional work, so it gives you a nice broad spectrum of ideas. As sometimes the best ideas don’t always come from the people or places that you would expect.
For me I don’t personally like following design agencies that only specialise in one area, as I like to see a range of work spanning different sectors. For me it gets the creative juices flowing much more!
The signs of a great agency for me are the ones that can get you equally excited over branding for a heavy metal brand as it can a corporate technology rebrand.
It helps you not become static in your design thinking and allows for much broader creative insights. As for me, I might not always get the seed of an idea from similar products or brands. It may instead come from something totally unrelated.
Credit to Turner Duckworth
If we go way back to the beginning. Back to my school days! Turner Duckworth (major design agency based in London, San Francisco and New York) was a major influence on me wanting to pursue a career in graphic design.
From being little I have always been very artistically driven and creative in my thinking. Always taking any opportunity that I had to take design related courses like Art, Media and product design.
For me Turner Duckworth became a huge inspiration for me, not only in my day to day design work, but also in influencing my desire to pursue my career in graphic design.
I can remember being at Comprehensive school and doing research on them during a graphic design module for my GCSE Art & Design class, and thinking… ‘wow these are f*#king awesome’. Since then I always gravitated towards graphic design – in particular the branding side.
They have always and still are a real big inspiration in my own design work. They have worked on some of the biggest brands on the planet! Taking on the likes of Coca Cola, Metallica, McDonalds and many, many more!
To Wrap It Up…
Coming back to what I said earlier about ‘form following function’.
Turner Duckworth is great at creating designs that not only look great. But also functionally work. They are always deeply rooted in creative thinking, with strong connections that really set the branding apart from the crowd.
They’re an important part of where I am today.