Secrets to Success: Finding Inspiration

As a designer it is important to maintain the separation between copying and being inspired. It may take longer to navigate the road less traveled but the rewards are greater. Not only will you be set apart as a leader you can also take pride in the results of your own creativity. Look outside the industry for which you are designing in order to bring a fresh approach to the table. Here are a few ideas to show you what I mean.

  • Architecture  View your architectural surroundings with an artist’s eye. A favorite wrought iron fence can be a wonderful starting point for creating trim.  Buildings can have curving, boxy or angular lines which, can influence color placement and layout.
  • Nature  You are surrounded by inspiration, you need only to recognize it.  Look beyond the obvious like flowers to the oft overlooked elements.  A pile of rocks can reveal beautiful shapes and hues that become fodder for a background treatment or a tone-on-tone color palette.  The image at right is a close up photograph of a beautiful array of moss, lichen and other flora, growing on a granite boulder, that I spotted during a walk through the woods.  It struck me as a miniature forest, I could just imaging hearing a who.  (If you don't get the reference, google "Horton Hears a Who")
  • Fashion Put those catalogs to good use. They are a wealth of information about current color and design trends, color combinations that work well together, and to just get your creative juices flowing. Go beyond color to notice the lines. Are straight lines common or are there an abundance of ruffles? This can influence a linear look or inspire flowing curves.
  • Home Decor   Browse through your local fabric or quilt shop. You will find lots of color combinations among the bolts of fabric. Buy ¼ yard pieces of those that appeal to you and bring them home for inspiration while experimenting. Many fabrics even have a color “chart” along the selvage edge that breaks the design down into each individual color that it contains.  This is especially helpful when choosing companion colors for walls or decorative accents.
  • Found Objects  Trace the outline of a few paintable surfaces and start laying in various components. Rearrange the components and create thumbnail sketches of the ideas that form.
What inspires you?  Are there specific events or locations that are a catalyst for your artistic visions?  Do share!  I love hearing your thoughts.
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