What Inspires Me As a Designer?

by | Dec 3, 2019

It’s difficult to identify what it is that inspires a designer. We all need design inspiration, and it’s not easy to keep work looking fresh and feeling relevant. Our careers depend on a constant supply of creativity and require new ideas almost every day. So it’s really important to recognise what inspires the work, and the best ways to stimulate that imagination. 

A solid understanding and knowledge of art & design history offers a grounding on which to create work, while an awareness of contemporary art practice and trends puts it into context. Designers have thrived on taking inspiration from one another. When struggling to find a visual solution, they are often assisted by the work of other designers who have already addressed similar problems. 

But as well as looking back, and in a time before the internet, my inspiration came from things that I had gathered, and kept around me in my studio. Magazines, flyers and postcards. Books, badges and even fabrics. A designer’s desk was usually littered with diverse and varied items to help trigger that daily need for inspiration. 

And in that era, a designer was required to be able to draw. A sketch book was the only way to work up a design and refine it to the point of presentation. It’s still my starting point today for most of the projects we work on, but the introduction of the internet, and the move to digital design, means that it’s all too easy to skip that vital, first stage. 

My sketch book is filled with primitive ideas, that are then refined digitally with the aid of instantly accessible and infinite online reference. I can sample colours from anywhere and add them to my palette. I can import reference to work from and create my own bespoke graphics and logos. I can research styles from other eras, look at what the competition is doing, as well as looking beyond the design industry – which is sometimes much more helpful. The sources of reference and inspiration are endless – almost too great!

Sometimes the brief triggers an instant idea, and this is often the perfect solution and the design that the client will select – not always the same thing! On other occasions it takes more time and research for the ideas to flow and the perfect solution to be crafted and eventually emerge. It’s our responsibility, as the appointed designers, to ensure that all projects are fully explored and developed, so that what’s delivered to our client is on brief and of value…no matter how many plates we’re spinning!

And after 30 years working in an industry that I love, it’s still inspiring to see H&H work in print/on a shelf/on a client’s website etc. When we’re out and about in ’the real world’ and see our designs persuading (and inspiring!) other people to choose our clients’ products or services over the competition. If our designs have contributed to that success, that’s great inspiration for the next project we work on – and the next one 🙂

“Great design inspiration comes quickly if you work long enough.”

M. Cobanli