Keep an Inspiration Notebook to Retain Offline Design Inspiration
Finding inspiration is important to designers of all kinds. For web designers there is plenty of design inspiration available online through gallery sites and design blogs that compile posts for inspiration. This abundance of potential inspiration makes it quick and easy to browse through these sources, but unfortunately it also tends to make many of us forget that there are limitless sources of inspiration all around us in every day life that don’t involve the internet.
When you’re looking for design inspiration quickly, it’s not always easy or possible to use a variety of sources. One habit that can help with this is to keep a notebook, binder, or folder for other types of inspiration that you come across in print, such as magazine cover or brochures. This way when you are in need of inspiration without having time to hunt it down, you can pull out your inspiration notebook and browse through what you have already collected.
Why Keep an Inspiration Notebook?
Become Less Reliant on Online Source of Inspiration
If you find yourself drawing inspiration only from other websites, it’s likely that you could improve your creativity and your design by branching out and drawing from other sources of inspiration. If you follow this blog you know that I like and appreciate inspiration from other websites, but when we stop looking outside of the online world for inspiration we put ourselves at risk of simply following trends in web design without a real purpose.
Encourages You to Pay Attention to a Wide Variety of Design Disciplines
Once you’ve started your inspiration notebook and you’re regularly adding to it, you’ll find yourself paying closer attention to things all around you that could provide excellent design inspiration. Rather than just focusing on inspiration from other websites, it will help to open you up to a wider variety of sources.
Will Likely Lead to More Originality in Your Design
As I already mentioned, taking in inspiration from more places will help to promote greater originality in web design. Web design is like anything else, it has trends that come and go frequently. If other websites are your only source of inspiration you’ll probably find yourself following popular trends rather than branching out and implementing something more original. With an inspiration notebook you’ll have all kinds of sources at your disposal that can help you to come up with some creative and original ideas.
It Will Always be Available When You Need it
After you’ve started to compile some great sources of design inspiration in your notebook, you can turn to it at any time when you need it. Most designers have a great appreciation for offline inspiration, but without having a way to keep track of the things you come across it can take a while to find inspiration from these sources. With a notebook, all you’ll have to do is pull it out and start flipping through it without any real time requirement.
How to Keep an Inspiration Notebook
Get a Binder or Folder
The obvious first step is to have someplace to keep the various items of inspiration that you find. It doesn’t really matter what you use, as long as it works well for you. It could be a 3-ring binder or a loose leaf notebook, or anything else that allows you to store things that you find and easily browse through them later.
Most likely, as you add items over a period of time it will get more difficult to find what you’re looking for. In this case, it’s a good idea to categorize the contents by using tabs or something else to separate the various sections. You may want to categorize it according to the type of item, such as pages from a magazine, brochures, business cards, etc. Alternatively, you could categorize it according to the design style of the type of inspiration that it provides, such as typographic or color schemes.
Add to it Consistently
In order for the inspiration notebook to be of the most use, you’ll need to consistently add items to it so that you’ll always be able to find great sources of inspiration when you need them. Get in the habit of looking at items around you in your daily life that and add them to the notebook if you find them inspiring in some way. You may also want to add post-it notes or something to make notes to yourself about aspects of the design or elements that you think may be useful to you in the future.
Make a Habit of Turning to Your Inspiration Notebook
If the inspiration notebook is going to be useful to you long-term, you need to not only add new items to it, but you must also rely on it as a source of inspiration on a regular basis. When you’re looking for inspiration online, make an effort to also spend a few minutes browsing through your notebook. Once you have developed the habits of actively watching for items to add form your daily life as well as turning to it for inspiration, the notebook will be very valuable to you as a designer.
What to Include in Your Inspiration Notebook
The point of keeping an inspiration notebook is to add various sources to your regular inspiration in addition to just online sources, however there are some limitations. Obviously, you’re limited to whatever items you can fit inside a notebook or folder. Many designers enjoy drawing inspiration from nature and the outdoors. While you can’t keep the outdoors in a notebook, you can keep photos of inspirational landscapes and scenes from nature. So while there are limitations, there are also plenty of opportunities to use a notebook for this purpose.
As you go about your daily life, you see design and creativity all around you. Here are some things that you can easily keep in an inspiration notebook for a later time.
- Magazine covers
- Magazine pages and layouts
- Junk mail
- Brochures and pamphlets
- Business cards
- Letterhead and stationary
- Post cards
- Album covers
- Anything else you can find
What’s Your Approach to Keeping Track of Offline Inspiration?
How do you find and retain sources of design inspiration aside from the internet? Do you find that having an organized system makes it more useful for you?
Published June 3rd, 2009 by Steven Snell