Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Fun Interactive Direct Mail Piece

Thursday, April 21st, 2011


Looking for graphic design inspiration? Katrina Hase of Mix Creative shares a fun, interactive mailer she received from Hyundai recently. (Please forgive the mirrored type—we’re new to this video thing!

Here’s a transcript: (more…)

Design under the gun: survival strategies

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Design under the gun

On not too rare an occasion, I find myself with a design deadline crushing down without a concept in sight. While my impulse is to grab the mouse and force the ideas out of my fingertips and into pixels on the screen, I rarely find success with this approach. Paradoxically, sometimes to work faster you need to slow down. Here are some strategies I’ve learned for beating the clock:

  • Re-read the creative brief. Sometimes, in revisiting the goals of the project, a word or two will pop out and provide inspiration or clarification.
  • Sketch it out. Sketching is a quick means for getting ideas out on paper without the commitment. I find that a quality sketch generally translates well to the screen, saving me time in the long run.
  • Switch sides of your brain. Give your visual right-sided brain a break and let your analytical, language-based left brain take the steering wheel. When I’m stuck, sometimes I’ll just list words related to the project theme until inspiration hits.
  • Take a walk (or a field trip). Recently, I’d spent the morning sketching logos and hadn’t made a lot of progress. I packed up my camera and went to the neighborhood where the business was located. I came home with a new sense of the community and prime inspiration for moving forward.
  • Research. Start flipping through design annuals and related publications, search competitor websites and stock photo sites, or Google terms related to the project.

For all of the above activities, plan your time wisely. Allow yourself a set time to diverge and rest, then get back to it!

The perspiration of inspiration: tips to get the ideas flowing

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Perhaps when I’m retired I’ll have the luxury of letting inspiration come to me naturally: sipping espresso in a sidewalk cafe and watching people bustle by, strolling museums and taking in the great works, or rummaging through family heirlooms in the attic.

But the reality is, I’m a working graphic artist, and my clients can’t afford to wait with the clock ticking while I siphon inspiration from day-to-day activities. So I’ve developed a process to get things moving. And while I don’t try everything every time, these creative jump starts are great to select from as I stare at the blank page in front of me:

  • Start with words. Brainstorm similes and metaphors for the concept/idea you are presenting. Expand the list to include words that express the personality of the project, colors, shapes, cliches associated with it. Be expansive at first, then go back through and highlight the words that BEST express the idea. Use those as your guide.
  • Brainstorm images. Start with sketching many of the words you listed earlier. Play with ways to show those ideas visually. Don’t try to design anything. Just make a lot of sloppy marks on the paper to act as placeholders for ideas.
  • Research images. Go online now and use Google Images to look up images that correspond to words on your original list. You’ll be surprised how many more ideas this will give you. For example, say you look up the word “cake”. You’ll expect to find lots of images of birthday cakes, cake slices, cupcakes. . .right? But you may be surprised to see something like a rice cake. Or the band, “Cake”. Print out images that surprise you or convey an idea really well. Take note of colors that are commonly used in association with the images.
  • Research your competition. Take note of the traditional colors, fonts, images, and designs of your client’s competitors. You’ll want to know the competition well if you want to create something that sets your client apart.
  • Research fonts. Visit font sites online or use your own software to investigate font choices. Type in your client’s name and preview how it looks in different fonts. Take note of and print our your favorites.
  • Review design annuals, art books, historical resources. If you know you want to work in a certain style, this can give you a good baseline for the elements that go into it. Sketch variations on elements you like. Keep your sketches loose to make the ideas your own.
  • Create an inspiration board. Now that you’ve collected words, images, colors, and sketches, get them up on a board or wall in front of you. Organize them into chunks that make sense to you.
  • Create thumbnails. Referencing your inspiration board, create tiny layout sketches that suggest elements of the design. Create dozens of these, then go back and select the ones you think will work the best. Flesh out these top ideas in a larger format and include more detail. Play around with adding colors and simulating the fonts.

Have your own sources of inspiration? Share them with us, we’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.

When art imitates work

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

One really great thing about being a graphic designer is that sometimes the work I do for clients inspires a new direction for my own art. Here’s a great example.

I created this brochure concept for the Twin Cities Women’s Choir to represent the diversity and vibrance of the choir, and to associate their organization with a place (the Twin Cities):

This inspired me to explore geometric landscapes in my own art, which I created to show at Art-A-Whirl:

The client ended up choosing the second concept, which featured some fabulous shots of the conductor and the choir in duotone photography, but in the end, nothing was wasted!