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Finding Inspiration

So I ask you… When you need inspiration, where do you go?

I had a professor tell me once that there is no such thing as writer’s block. Great writers just write, they don’t need some artificial form of inspiration.

I’m not sure whether I believe this or not, but I have often wondered, if there is no such thing as writer’s block then maybe there is no such thing as designer’s block. Which scares me a little because I have had my moments where I had nothing, moments where my mind was blank. Luckily for me I have never long periods of not being able to think of anything, I usually can by some time until something strikes. Sometimes it has been something I have seen while surfing the web or a blog post I have read that jolts my brain.

To say there are a lot of blog posts written to spark inspiration in designers is like saying there is a lot of salt in the ocean. Its countless, you could print out and line up all the blogs posts on design inspiration, add this one to the end, and be able to touch the moon. My problem with inspirational design posts is that when you actually look at them you start to see the same designs over and over again. Literally the same designs. There isn’t a web design inspiration blog post out there that doesn’t highlight or talk about MailChimp. Don’t get me wrong, MailChimp is awesome, but this creates a problem for designers. As designers we are supposed to be creative, we are supposed to create new, fresh looking designs and concepts. What these types of posts do is create cookie cutter websites because they offer no new inspiration, just recycled ideas, like the idea that every Web 2.0 site has rounded corners. These types of inspirational posts breed copycats and only serve to make trends, not spark innovation.

So I ask you… When you need inspiration, where do you go?

If only a writer could cure himself of writers block by reading more books. Original thought, like original design is hard to come by and it takes time, effort, practice and failure before you have that Billy Joel “In the Middle of the Night” moment of clarity. I for one have never woken up in the middle of the night with a brilliant design idea, usually its just to go pee. I have however had moments of clarity and trying to recreate these moments is like chasing your tail. These moments for me have never come from trolling design websites looking for inspiration, in my case they have usually come after working on a project for a while or even speaking with someone else about the project. It seems to me that my inspiration comes more from doing, not looking.

When I get stuck on a project or a design I have learned that if I want to quickly copy somebody I’ll hit the design blogs, but if I truly want to create something meaningful I will start working, start sketching, start wire framing, start typing or just start doing something. A lot of the time I never have a moment of clarity, but I have a moment of sheer adequacy where my average idea becomes something that will work, not something that will alter someones life. That’s okay too, I think sometimes the average ideas are like doors on a car, they’re not as important as the steering wheel or the motor but there function is still important to the overall safety and security of the vehicle. Unless of course you are Bo or Luke Duke.

So I ask you… When you need inspiration, where do you go?

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