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Breaking Out Of The Box: Design Inspiration (April 2016)

Editor’s Note: Some people simply have the magic touch for digging up design goodness. Today, we are proud to present the brilliant gems that Veerle Pieters1 has dug out, letting us explore a fresh breeze of photography, art, type, print as well as web design projects.

As designers, we have our good and bad days. Some days ideas come naturally. Other days we struggle or have moments where we are really stuck. We are in urgent need of inspiration. Let me help you get through these moments of pain and suffering. Let me nurture your creativity. Sit back, relax, and feed your appetite. Here’s your monthly dose.

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

Waves6 Link

Ben Thouard is a photographer from the South of France, specialized in surf photography. The attraction for me in this shot is the smoothness of the curves and the beautiful variations of blue.


Image source: Fubiz8

Tropical9 Link

Clever usage of very minimal elements. Just a few lines and curves are enough to convince the thought of birds and waves. Even the curves of her backside are just right. By MUTI1210.


Image source: MUTI1210

Bright Classroom13 Link

Illustration depicting the future of the classroom. Her skirt has such inspiring pattern. Feet, hands and legs aren’t easy to draw and here the elegance is done with perfection. Designed by Sam Chivers.


Image source: Sam Chivers15

“Demain” Children’s Book16 Link

Great color choices and expressions is what I noticed instantly. Perfectly fitting for a children’s book. Designed by Vincent Mahé.

Vincent Mahé

Image source: Vincent Mahé18

Odyssée19 Link

Malika Favre has such unmistakable style. Usually consisting of repeating lines & bright colors. The shadows are also very strong and achieved with minimal color use. Designed by Malika Favre.

Malika Favre

Image source: Malika Favre21

Happy Hour… Have A Coke22 Link

I’ve always enjoyed the era of advertising where they still illustrated everything. What inspires me in here are the structure of the paper, the watercolor feel and the expressions on the faces. Designed by Leifpeng.


Image source: Leifpeng24

Girl With Fruit25 Link

This one also has the water color palette in combination with ink. The hair is the masterpiece in this one. Love how the hair flows with the subtle shadows to show volume. This illustration looks so real it’s like a photo. Designed by Sofia Bonati.

Sofia Bonati

Sofia Bonati27

Facebook Events28 Link

Illustration for Facebook events. This one is for a picnic. It’s not a color palette I would come up with but it works very well in this case. Designed by Eight Hour Day.

Eight Hour Day

Image source: Eight Hour Day30

Chihuahua In Courchevel31 Link

Every little detail in this illustration perfectly shows how the ladies in Courchevel behave. It’s all in the details, her sunglasses, the way her hand and fingers are drawn. The dog is also adorable. Designed by Richard Zielenkiewicz.

Richard Zielenkiewicz

Image source: Richard Zielenkiewicz33

Mavericks Poster34 Link

That hair and beard combo are the center pieces that gives this poster its rock’n roll feel. I also really dig the variety of patterns within the torso. Designed by Steve Wolf.

Steve Wolf

Image source: Steve Wolf36

Evian Illustrated Campaign37 Link

The atmosphere is just right for water. The hay rolls are a nice touch. This limited color palette fits the brand. Designed by Tom Haugomat.

Tom Haugomat

Image source: Tom Haugomat39

African Postcards40 Link

I always struggle with simplicity and this illustration is a great inspiration because the animals are so perfect. They only consist of a few lines and the rest is done by color.

Makers Company

Image source: Makers Company42

Picon43 Link

L’apéritif Amer Picon by Sepo Pozzati Severo / 1928. Pretty amazing that such an old illustration still serves as great inspiration. Love how the feet/shoes are done and create the illusion of breaking. Genius.

Galerie 123

Image source: Galerie 12345

Stacked II46 Link

“Stacked” is an approach to the large post-war housing estates in Berlin. On the surface they may look the same but when examined closer you’ll find a lot of variation. The receptiveness in this one works so well together. Designed by Malte Brandenburg.

Malte Brandenburg

Image source: Malte Brandenburg48

Flamingo Dance49 Link

Clever how the flamingos are wonderfully simplified. The six birds together are so well integrated and create a perfect geometry. Smart use of shapes and colors. Beautiful! Designed by Pavlov Visuals.

Pavlov Visuals

Image source: Pavlov Visuals51

Spring52 Link

A wonderful color palette by Inma Lorente that invites you into the drawing. The sharper pencil lines are also working well together with the color pencils look.


Image source: Poolga54

Books Can Take You Places55 Link

I always love to see how someone translates a title into an illustration. In this case it triggers your imagination and makes you fantasize. Love how the books are connected. Designed by Max Reyes.

Max Reyes

Max Reyes57

Visit Scotland58 Link

Nature photography is one of my favorites. Getting the colors just right is one of the hardest things in photography I think. In this instance it’s just perfect and even with the snow in the back it still gives a perfect balance between warm & cold tones. Found on George the Explorer59.

George the Explorer

Image source: George the Explorer61

Geometric Birds (Procreate-iPad Pro)62 Link

Everything that ticks off my boxes. Great color choices and geometry. I still mainly doodle in notebooks but this is another example that makes me want to try the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. The textures and colors look so real. Designed by Samy Halim.

Samy Halim

Image source: Samy Halim64

Day Time65 Link

Pur simplicity on first look, but if you examine closer you’ll find some amazing details. For example the different patterns of the roofs of the houses or all the beautiful details of his shoes. Be sure to check out the larger version to discover all of them. Found on Poolga66.


Image source: Poolga68

Social Marketing69 Link

Original how the inside of the mouth is divided into 3 different color pieces to create the illusion of depth. Not your everyday color palette as well. Designed by Helbetico.


Image source: Helbetico71

Lake District72 Link

The peace and tranquility is strong in this one. It’s one of those places you want to be in. That’s what great photography does to me. Again, George The Explorer73.

George the Explorer

Image source: George the Explorer

Fun :)75 Link

The layering of the trees is genius — super simple, yet effectively adding depth to the design. There much to discover also. Designed by Made by Radio.

Made by Radio

Image source: Made by Radio77

Venice Italy78 Link

Lovely vintage style and color palette. The subtle reflection on the water is beautifully done.


Image source:

In Context80 Link

I really love the fantasy in this one, and how the lines in between the drawers of the archive wall go from dark to very light color. It creates this effect of perfect reflection. Designed by Davide Bonazzi.


Image source: Davide Bonazzi82

AI-CIO83 Link

The shapes of the people are just prefect. Creating this out of proportion differences is what makes this illustration so great, but also the subtle color palette and pattern details are very inspiring. Designed by Keith Negley.


Image source: Keith Negley85

Kumano Hongū Taisha86 Link

One of those vistas that makes you feel like you are on top of the world. I especially like the color transitions between the mountains and the clouds.

Kumano Hongū Taisha

Image source: Matt Mullenweg88

Mystery Project 76.389 Link

I love badges. This one is very attractive and is transmitting emotions. Colours are also working very well together.

Mystery Project 76.3

Image source: DKNG91

Carnival Poster92 Link

Great usage of lines, not easy to maintain balance when they are that heavy. Those pink accents are very well done. These extra bright touches result in a perfect color palette. Designed by Martín Azambuja.

Carnival poster

Image source: Martín Azambuja94

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2016 – 100th Edition95 Link

One of the great classics! Great photography by Kristof Ramon combined with some smart graphic design. Beautiful tone of colors. Featured by Ronde van Vlaanderen.

Ronde van Vlaanderen 2016 - 100th edition

Image source: Ronde van Vlaanderen97

Meat Balloon Link

A bit of humor in an illustration is almost always a winning combo. I could swear this was an illustration done by the Spanish <a href=”http://www.brosmind.98com”>
Brosmind brothers. A very similar illustration style.

Meat Balloon

Image source: Burnt Toast Creative100

Read101 Link

The humor you also find in this illustration. I hadn’t seen it immediately but on closer inspection you’ll see it. Designed by Modi Shibuya.


Image source: Vincent Mahé103

Neighbors104 Link

Many little details create an inspiring illustration. There are quite a few in this one.


Image source: Shylesh106

Sky Cities107 Link

Created with the purpose to practice composition and color techniques. Great experiment with a very satisfying result. Perfect shadow and light effects too. Designed by Alex Pasquarella.

Sky cities

Image source: Alex Pasquarella109

Coppi – Paris-Roubaix 1950110 Link

Legend Coppi cornering on cobbles on the way to victory in Paris-Roubaix, 1950. So well captured considering the technology that they didn’t have back then.

Coppi - Paris-Roubaix 1950

Image source: Fabbrica della Bici112

Yoghurt Hansens Mejeri113 Link

A perfect example of how to let go every detail and only remain the basic shapes. An illustration style you recognise from far. Very strong.

Yoghurt Hansens Mejeri

Image source: Mads Berg115

G&M Website – Explore116 Link

This speaks to me because of the very inspirational and smart use of lines, colors and textures.

G&M Website - Explore

Image source: Matt Carlson118

Bloody Mary Morning SXSW119 Link

Look at that eye of the roaster. Love it! That roaster looks very confident. The straight lines are in perfect proportion and adds to his tough attitude. Designed by Steve Wolf.

Bloody Mary Morning SXSW

Image source: Steve Wolf121

Snow Cabin122 Link

That light is pretty spectacular! Look at those perfect gradients in the sky and snow, and how the light falls on the roof o the cabin. Featured by UK FilmLab.

Snow cabin

Image source: UK FilmLab124

Mr. Porter125 Link

The expressions on the faces are so cleverly done with just minimal design. The dotted pattern is also a nice touch. Lots of fun details to look at, that adds to the atmosphere of suffering at the fitness. Designed by Rami Niemi.

Mr Porter

Image source: Rami Niemi127

Security vs Privacy128 Link

A wonderful color palette. One of those editorial illustrations so well expressed. Love how small the little people look. Not easy. Designed by David Bonazzi.

Security vs Privacy

Image source: David Bonazzi130

Easter Weekend131 Link

Adorable Easter illustration. Inspiring organic feel. Designed by Barbara Dziadosz.

Easter Weekend

Image source: Barbara Dziadosz133

Five Thirty Eight Link

A piece on the process/data of making NFL players into madden game gods. One first sight you may think such a collage is easy to accomplish but it isn’t. Hardest thing of all is keeping everything well balanced so it doesn’t become overcrowded.

Five Thirty Eight
Image source: Mike McQuade

Urban Walkabout134 Link

A book cover illustration drilled down to just the basics. Clever use of colors that speak. Designed by Yuki Bang.

Urban Walkabout

Image source: Yuki Bang136

Herman Miller’s Small Business Catalog137 Link

Illustration for the legendary furniture company Herman Miller. The randomness of pattern use is wonderfully combined with a series of objects. Love the off color registration effect. Designed by Script & Seal.

Herman Miller small business catalog

Image source: Script & Seal139

Queen Houses The Ice Rink140 Link

Sometimes you don’t need many elements to create a visually inspiring piece. Those colors contrast so well. Designed by Script & Seal.

Queen Houses the ice rink

Image source: Script & Seal142

JetAway Magazine Link

Fantastic illustration that covers a whole range of facial emotions expressed in just a few lines. So great to learn from. I can look at this for a while. Designed by Dan Woodger.

JetAway Magazine
Image source: Dan Woodger

Fortune Illustration143 Link

Very interesting use of darker colors that results in original looking animals. The lines and geometry are so well done here. Such perfect composition and color usage. Designed by Aleksandar Savić.

Fortune illustration

Image source: Aleksandar Savić145

The City Of New York146 Link

Another example of how to leave things out and only remain the absolute essentials while still keep it recognisable. Designed by Christopher Dina.

The City of New York

Image source: Christopher Dina148

What About You? Link

What projects inspire you the most? What helps you stay creative? Let us know in the comments below!

Footnotes Link

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Veerle is one of the fascinating minds behind Duoh!, whose love for design in all its various forms shines through. She is a graphic/Web designer hailing from a small but beautiful European country called Belgium. You can follow her on Twitter and read her blog at

  1. 1

    Great collection, I forgot to check Veerle’s own blog recently so nice to see the overview.

    One thing though, the link of the “privacy vs. security” item seems to be the same as the one above. Just a little copy-paste error I think.

  2. 4

    Lots of cool stuff! Thanks for the compilation. Definitely saved to Pocket.

  3. 5

    As Rogier alludes to above, all the title links go to the same address (

  4. 7

    Meat Balloon has a messed up link :)

  5. 8

    vinay patial

    April 14, 2016 1:21 pm


  6. 9

    Thank you!
    That is a great collection! I’m in love Rami Niemi’s gym guys :D

  7. 10

    Another good artist, Oleg Beresnev, who can be a source of inspiration:

  8. 11

    Cameron Townsend

    May 5, 2016 8:58 pm

    looks like all the image links are broken :(

  9. 12

    Awesome post!


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