My creative process has radically changed over my twenty-plus years of designing logos. The greatest change is the shift away from visuals, and towards words for inspiration. Back in college, every graphic design project I completed had to be accompanied by the material that inspired it. As design students, we had to show how we got from point A to point B through the reference materials. We looked towards other designers work for inspiration, and rarely towards things like data, articles, or market analysis.
For many years after, I began every project leafing through design magazines and award books for inspiration. I would sit with my sketchbook taking notes and drawing thumbnails as I searched for images to spark creativity.
I look at this approach now as a terrible habit that took a long time to break. I now cringe a little when I see this same practice being encouraged by graphic design ‘inspiration’ sites that focus solely on the final visual without acknowledging either the process that created it or a glimpse into the creative brief. This method of looking for inspiration can encourage design trends and the borrowing of design elements all without strategic reasoning.
I still begin every project with research and a search for inspiration but rarely in a visual form. Writing, discussions, and tools that involve words drive me now. My favorite resources are mind maps, a dictionary, and a thesaurus. I also develop a vocabulary for each project before sketching any visuals. There is, of course, a need to understand the visuals currently being used in the market space, audience preferences, etc., but even these are translated into words. I find this allows me to work with a much clearer mind, unencumbered by my old habit.
Recently, I have been exposed to how other graphic designers work through my site Processed Identity. Seeing the tools they use has me thinking about how I currently work and has inspired me to consider different tools and approaches. Mood boards for example, are something I can see working very well alongside my written vocabulary, creating an abstract visual representation of the creative direction.
Another great source of inspiration is writing posts like this and the discourse that follows so . . .
The tools and sources I use for inspiration have changed drastically. How have yours, and why? Consider sharing your answers for the following:
- Most used tool or resource:
- Least used tool or resource:
- Tool or resource I am most interested to incorporate:
- Greatest change in how I seek inspiration: