Design Inspiration

A record store find

These last waning days of Winter always seem to make everyone miserable. We’d all rather fast forward to Spring already. Seems like a good time to talk about finding inspiration despite all the yucky weather that surrounds us.

The best advice I’ve ever heard, when it comes to finding inspiration and ideas, is to get away from your computer (and the internet!). Like Samantha says in this post, everyone is looking at the internet, but there’s lots more to the world offline.

Whether your assembling a collection to keep for reference, or trying to find inspiration for a specific project, grab a camera to take lots of pictures and grab samples and swatches of anything that sparks your interest. Here are some of my favourite places to go:

Fabric Stores and Craft Stores

These are especially great for colour, texture and patterns. Pull some bolts of fabric for some interesting colour combinations. If you find some you really like they’ll cut samples swatches for you for free. Check out the pattern books for lots of photos and illustrations.

No matter how cheesy you think the scrapbooking section is, there’s tons of patterns, stamps and paper in there. Definitely worth checking out.

Bookstores and Libraries

Both let you just hang out and look at books but the library will definitely have a different collection. Look for interesting book covers and displays. The photo books have all sorts of amazing photos in a bigger and better format than you’ll find online.

Don’t forget the childerns’ section, especially in the library. This is an especially good place to look for illustration and line styles. Plus some of the stories are great, too.

While you’re there, grab a book to read.

Used Bookstores and Record Stores

Used bookstores are a lot different than your neighbourhood Borders. Old books, old magazines, old advertisements, and more. Go back often to look for treasures.

Record stores that still sell old LPs (you know, the big 12″ ones..) are just as interesting as used bookstores. I especially like to check out the old Jazz and Classical music record covers for typography and ornaments.

Museums and Galleries

You probably can’t take pictures here, but there’s so much to see. I know I’m guilty of taking these for granted. Find a listing of museums and galleries close to you and check out as many as you can.

Take a Walk with Your Camera

Even if all you have is your cellphone camera, it’s still worth it to record what you see. Things look a whole lot different when you’re walking as opposed to driving.