10 Fresh Ways to Find Design Inspiration

Need a shot of design inspiration? We asked more than 750 designers to share their secrets for jump-starting creativity. Here are 10 noteworthy nuggets of advice.

Our annual Creative Team of the Future project peeks into the future of the industry. But regardless of what changes are ahead, one thing is for sure: It's going to take a lot of inspiration and innovation for creative professionals, teams and companies to move forward and thrive. So, in partnership with AIGA, we asked the more than 750 designers who responded to this year's survey a simple question: Where do you most commonly go for creative inspiration or fresh perspective?

Many of the individuals who responded gave useful yet similar answers: blogs, websites, design conferences, Google image searches and social media (creatives love Pinterest). But there were also some more surprising ideas in the mix. We've gathered 10 of their freshest ideas to help give your creativity a boost.

1. Head for the coffee shop in the next town over.

"When I need a new perspective, I like to find a coffee shop I have never been to, preferably in a town I don't live in, and just sit. Taking a step back from a project and just refreshing my brain usually helps with my creative productivity."

2. Brainstorm with someone who is NOT a designer.

"Discussions with staff in other parts of the company who aren't involved creatively allow me to get their input on how they see the company."

3. Start a real-world inspiration file.

"I keep a file of print materials that inspire me as I find them through the mail as well as at events."

4. Join a local Meetup group.

"I've recently started to engage more in group meetups found on Meetup.com, particularly ones that are focused on drawing and typography. I like to talk to other designers about their processes and workflow to see if I can adapt something new to the work I'm doing."

5. Start a creativity group at work.

"My team has a creative inspiration meeting every Friday morning to share ideas and current projects."

6. Make time for field trips.

"My team goes on 'Inspiration Days' at least four or five times a year. We go to the Detroit Institute of Arts to roam the galleries, especially if it has a special exhibit. We go to new businesses in the area that sell handmade watches, bicycles or tiles, and take factory tours."

7. Take a break from looking at other people's design work.

"I remove myself from all things related to my field. Generally, I draw from nature and culture."

8. Turn on some music.

"Listening to music helps me transcend my current place and time, leave all behind and just focus on the possibilities. The Internet makes you copy; music makes you imagine."

9. Start a photography habit.

"I carry a small camera around with me and take photos of anything I see that inspires me creatively."

10. Leave the office and go outside.

"If the World Wide Web fails, I find that getting outside and being inspired by my surroundings is usually best. I will take my hour lunch break to walk outside or even drive. Something as simple as street signs and typography on billboards can be inspiring if you're open to it."

Bonus Tip

Watch a recording of our Buzz Break, Overcome: 8 Creativity Battles You Fight Every Day, to learn how to defeat the daily hurdles that keep you from achieving your greatest creative potential.

What's your go-to technique for finding inspiration?

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