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Where Do You Draw Inspiration From?

Getting creative is part of our job. Whatever project we are working on, at some point we need to come up with some nice starting point — some fresh idea which we could explore further, build upon and refine until we have a polished, perfect result. Although having an idea is at least as important as implementing it properly, without inspiration and innovation you just can’t get anything done.

And this is where it sometimes gets messy. In fact, drawing inspiration is not as easy as we used to think of it. Inspiration is not just observing something, analyze it and implement it in one or another way in your work. Inspiration is much more: there is a fine line between inspiration and imitation which is easy to cross and as easy to mix up.

Inspiration means captivate an idea and develop it further. Imitation means identify an idea and use it. As a professional when getting creative, you need to make sure that you pick the right path to follow.

Ideas and Inspiration1
Noell Hyman draws inspiration from magazines2; stick-it-notes contain some ideas she might want to work upon later.

So how do you actually come up with new ideas (apart from reading Smashing Magazine, of course)? Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you have some bulletproof approaches against creativity blocks?

We would like to hear your opinion. Let us know in the comments!

Footnotes Link

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

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    May 11, 2008 12:56 pm

    Working in a boring, absolutely non creative environment helps a lot. If you are a creative person you will be so bored and unsatisfied that ideas will come from alone.

  2. 2

    Ash Robinson

    May 11, 2008 10:28 am

    Design sites, portfolio’s, flickr,

    all sorts really :)

    I must say magazines and books are also very useful, but you cant beat the net :)

  3. 3

    From smashingmagazine obviously ;)

  4. 4

    I regularly read blogs, gallery sites, magazines and get time to do “my” things to get my inspiration. I recently dreamt about design, woke up, jotted the design down and put it together the following day.

    The client ended up loving it and it’s now ready to go live. Odd, but it worked.

  5. 5 and the odd post from

  6. 6

    Smashing, according to your poll results it’s time for some more inspirational round-up posts.

  7. 7

    I’m a writer, not a designer but I still get inspiration from Smashing Magazine! I also get it from reading biographies/memoirs of creative types, especially if they’re talking about how they do their work.

  8. 8

    Recently my company had a “creative day.” Basically they give you a day off and during this day your suppose to go somewhere to inspire yourself. So my coworker and I choose to go to the Santa Monica Design district. Rather than look at people’s paintings we decide to look at modern design for homes. For example one place specialized in kitchens, another in lighting, the others in furniture. I found the trip to be inspiration to look at high quality designs even if it’s not related to your field. As soon as I got home I started sketching up some layouts.

  9. 9 has something that catches my eye every time I visit.

    I take pictures often.

    I draw every day, even if I just make some little sketches with no goal or idea in mind, and I keep all of them. When I do have a concept, I make at least 100 thumbnails before I take it to the next step. This phase helps to explore the idea fully.

    Listen to music.

    Look at dozens of art blogs an CG sites.

    Get out in nature, the best source of inspiration there is.

    Outer space is another great inspirer. I love looking at nebulae, supernovas, galaxies, etc. Just thinking about the physics and how the gears of the universe function inspires me.

    When all else fails, look back to the masters. Sometimes I try to reproduce their work or incorporate it into mine.

  10. 10

    From Design Shack –

  11. 11

    Paper magazines, tv commercials, tv jingles…

  12. 12

    Inspiration for me comes from the emotions of others. To meet a stranger and engage in taboo sexual activities opens up new areas of my mind that have yet to be allows me to change my personal patterns of creative thinking and problem solving.

  13. 13

    Design related sites and magazines.

  14. 14


    May 11, 2008 12:25 pm

    obviously from smashingmagazine, however an important part is draw from my daily life and small bits of love from family

  15. 15

    An interesting article. I actually draw my inspiration away from the computer. I’m a radio controlled pilot and will often go and fly my helicopter or plane, or do something else that I find relaxing or fun. Strangely, some of my best artistic ideas, whether it be 3D, digital painting, or graphic design, have came from doing things like that. I’ve even solved coding logic in regards to programming and database structure by “taking a break” from the computer. The CSS gallery sites usually provide me with inspiration for content layout and structure, or maybe a neat CSS trick or interesting use of Ajax, but they rarely provide inspiration for actual design.

  16. 16

    getting high is the best inspiration method :D I don’t use drugs ! but I use to smoke Water Pipe … Once I have tea and water pipe with a piece of paper behind me I start colecting idees, online research, then I bring up a concept …
    Like Ash, I vizit design sites, portfolio’s, flickr, blogs, google images …

  17. 17

    Dave Bowker

    May 11, 2008 1:05 pm


    Two hours of complete inspiration. The script, the locations, the set pieces, wardrobe, props, the music, etc. All good inspiration, and your soaking it up whilst enjoying a movie.

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    That was really a checkbox question rather than a radio button question don’t you think?

  19. 19

    Every time I see a really cool site I bookmark it — when I need inspiration I look at my bookmarks.

  20. 20

    From everything I saw and liked. I kinda mix it and then make something good.


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