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How Do Most Designers Get Inspired?

How do most designers get inspired each day? They might look at CSS galleries, read tutorials, or check out sites such as DeviantArt and Ffffound. This is what I call ‘active learning’. You are actively seeking inspiration, and expending effort to become inspired.

However, I’ve begun to realize that whilst these are all valuable sources of inspiration, they have their limitations. If everyone is reading the same tutorials, or checking out the same galleries then it becomes harder for us to be unique.

I’ll admit, this article was partially inspired by this great article at WebDesignerDepot:

The Next Level of Design – Being Unique.

What About Our Subconscious Sources of Inspiration?

Whilst it’s great to go out actively seeking inspiration, this only accounts for a small portion of our day. The majority of our time we aren’t seeking inspiration – but this doesn’t mean we aren’t being inspired!

There is a huge source of inspiration that often we aren’t even aware of:

  • Our Online Social Network

Just as we are inspired by our regular friends, we are also inspired by our fellow designers. Thus it is crucial that we provide ourselves with a high quality social network, online and offline.

What I’m encouraging in the theory of QUALITY over QUANTITY.

Think about every time you login to Twitter (or any of your social networks). You’re likely greeted by a news feed, aggregating your online social network’s actions. Take a look – what would you say the quality of this feed is on a scale of 1 to 10? A good way to monitor this is to look at the 20 latest tweets on your Twitter homepage. If only a couple of these are of true interest to you, then this isn’t good…

I suggest that you cut your social circle down to the most inspiring, creatively minded, helpful individuals. Imagine logging into Twitter and seeing a list of tweets without any spam, useful information or link-bait. Instead, imagine engaging design-related discussions, unique and intriguing articles and designers exchanging feedback.

The Best Inspiration Comes From Interaction

Inspiration that comes from digesting information has it’s limitations. However, if we’re interacting with each other, and analyzing design as a collective force then we can learn far more.

Some great ways to do this include:

  • Get involved in discussions via your social networking profiles
  • Join design related forums and message-boards (look out for low quality forums though, don’t always opt for the largest forums, go for the ones with the best members)
  • Connect with fellow designers on chat programs. You can combine friendly chats and socializing with design discussions.
  • Comment on blogs, and if you own a blog spark discussions within your comment section.

The beauty of this approach is that you won’t feel like you’re trying to learn, it will happen naturally. Your day to day socializing will simultaneously be teaching you about design and making you aware of upcoming trends.

Here are some of the benefits of taking this social approach to your learning:

  • You will be networking and promoting your site/business without even trying to
  • You will be fully aware of what is happening within the community
  • You will meet some awesome people
  • You will meet people to collaborate with on your projects
  • You can help and influence others, in real time. You aren’t just absorbing information and opinions, but expressing your own!

In Conclusion

So why not pay a little more attention to this part of your daily routine, and see what the consequences are?

  • Improve the QUALITY of your social circle
  • Engage in more discussions, and learn through interaction
  • Don’t just be a reader! Start contributing something of value

About the Author:

Tom is the founder of PSDFAN. He loves writing tutorials, learning more about design and interacting with the community. On a more interesting note he can also play guitar hero drunk with his teeth.

Leave a comment


  1. Great Article Tom! =)
    Another new thing these days is Dribble which lets you showcase your upcoming work to fellow designers, and they give you instant feedback on it, which is the greatest form of interaction for any designer, as one can work and simultaneously improve it with feedback.

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks Ankit! Yeah, I totally forgot about Dribble. I may well do an upcoming post on online software/apps/networks to aid design discussion/feedback.

  3. I think that sites like the ones mentioned are a really good way to get feedback and improve on your work, maybe even collect inspiration from fellow creatives.

    Sometimes though the inspiration is where you are not looking for it and from the people you wouldn’t expect as they can see something from a completely different approach that you ever thought of.

  4. Eminenz says:

    Hey……Thanks for the share

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