Creativity and Inspiration: Take more pictures

As designers we’ve all experienced those same dreaded moments when we're working on a design and hit a road block. Maybe it's been a long day, and your brain is just fried. Maybe you’ve already done three designs this week and you just don’t have anything left. Whatever the case may be, those moments come for all of us.

I’ve begun to realize that there’s nothing I can do to avoid them completely; but I have learned a trick to mitigate their effects. For me, its all about inspiration. How much design and inspiration I take in directly affects the amount and quality of design I can put out.

So where should we look for awesome design inspiration? For me, the first step in limiting the recurrence of designer's block was to literally open my eyes to the design, composition, and beauty of items all around me on a daily basis.

Take more pictures

You may not be a photographer or have any interest at all in the discipline of photography, but how else are you going to remember all these things that you see around you? Go out and purchase a cheap point-n-shoot or use your fancy smartphone, and just take a picture of everything you see for a few weeks. Be intentional about looking for angles, textures, grids, or compositions that appeal to you and snap a quick picture of them. The best part is that the photographs you take don’t have to be limited to simple inspiration; they can be vital aspects of entire designs.


Everything has texture. Everything. The table top that you work on, the shingled rooftop of the building outside your window, the rusted-out panel of the dumpster out back, or even the tread on the tire of your car (or Vespa or Segway). They each have textures that are unique and identifiable. So, does that rust on the dumpster flow and curve in a way that appeals to you? Remember it, and allow those textures to affect the way you design.


While architecture is an immense design discipline that I don't even pretend to understand, that doesn’t stop me from appreciating it for the inspiration it holds. For example, on my drive home from work everyday I pass a home that's being built in my neighborhood. Right smack dab in the middle of a historical 1920s district, there is this beautiful new home being built with a modern/industrial feel. I couldn’t help but stop and take a photo the first time I saw it. So, do you see a building on your way home from work and like the way that rooftop pitch works against the open sky in the background? Stop, take a picture of it, and allow it to sink in. You might find a use for it later.


These pictures were all taken with my iPhone 4. These were all taken by either letting the lens focus and then moving the camera just before it takes a picture or by getting the lens too close to focus (you can see some of the flash vignetting). Even though these are somewhat similar, you get the idea. The possibilities are really limitless.

You can even get social with this idea farm that you’re creating. If you have an iPhone, download the Instagram app. It lets me snap pics and then easily upload, share , and get feedback on them! Even better would be to create a blog with your free LightCMS account and post all your photos there for easy access.

So what now?

Go forth! Keep your eyes open! Photographing awesome stuff doesn't necessarily mean the end to all of your designer's block woes. However it is a step that you can take to act intentionally toward your creative drought, to see design everywhere.

So, where do you look for inspiration? Is there something or somewhere you go to to take pictures of great designs? If so, let us know in the comments or tag @LightCMS next time you share one on Twitter!