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How to: Stoke Up Some Design Inspiration

Creative vision – nobody said it was easy.

Indeed, if you’re a budding designer trying to get words on a page, paint on a canvas, film on a screen or code for a webpage, the craft isn’t an issue once you’ve started. It’s that sliver of inspiration that causes hair-pulling, scream-inducing stress.


That’s why we’ve come up with a few methods to help get those synapses firing. Everyone needs a jumpstart sometimes – so make yours count.

Creative Vérité

What makes great art? It’s a question that’s remained unanswered for aeons, and will remain so in this humble article. But there is one undefinable component inherent in its creation – the communication of reality to your audience.

And there’s no better way to observe the day-to-day comings and goings of reality than with a secret camera. Hidden cameras can be secreted almost anywhere, allowing you to view life’s intricacies without interference.

In the film world this is known as CinémaVérité, in which the participants of a movie don’t even realise they are being recorded. There’s no better way to see people completely unselfconscious than when they don’t know they’re being watched. Who knows what inspiration it could conjure?

Let the Stream Flow

Writing surreal, weird nonsense like magical elf flap or door handle cheese grating man might seem like an exercise in pointlessness, but it’s actually a perfectly valid way to come up with new ideas.

Known as stream of consciousness thinking, it posits the idea that a constant flurry of words and thought patterns will eventually hit upon a gem that you can use at a later date.

Interestingly, this useful way of gathering ideas stemmed from the idea of automatic writing, in which the writers believed they were channelling the spiritual plain. So see if you can reach out to the dearly departed designers of bygone eras and nab a few ideas from them.

Fight the Fear

Creation is terrifying. When you’ve got an idea in your head, you can let it tantalise you, imagine the sprawling success your creation could lead to. Then comes the actual act of making – and it’s never as good as you imagine it.

Making stuff is inevitably disappointing. It probably happened to the greatest artists to have lived. As people stared awestruck at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo was probably convinced it was a bit half-baked. Such is the human condition.

The trick is to avoid that stomach-churning worry and fear. The free mind rolls with ideas far more when it stops caring about failure. Look at the creative process as failing upwards – you learn from your mistakes and improve.

Design is never always a winners game, and nor should it be. Without risk, where’s the element of fun?