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

About The Author

Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. When he is not writing, he’s most probably running front-end & UX … More about Vitaly ↬

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Holiday or no holiday, our need for some fresh inspiration never stops! This month, Vitaly Friedman has found some real treasures! As a designer, Vitaly feels that there is so much that he can learn from the techniques and color combinations in these little gems. Let’s dive in, and get inspired to leave your comfort zones for your next designs!

How about trying a very different drawing technique or illustration style for your next project? Maybe a weird geometric shape? Or a more abstract form? Or a retro-futuristic color scheme? Not sure about you, but holiday or no holiday, my need for some fresh inspiration never stops.

This month, I’ve continued my journey in search for some inspiring and beautiful artwork — and I’ve found some real treasures! As a designer, I feel that there is so much that I can learn from the techniques and color combinations in these little gems. Let’s dive in, and get inspired to leave our comfort zones for our next designs!

Postcards From Amsterdam | Typography

Great work. A typographic picture from the “Postcards from Amsterdam” series. The creativity in the letters is very inspiring. The beautiful color palette is also perfectly applied.

Image credit: koivo

Stanford Social Innovation

Illustration for an article on how we should look at our time as currency. A few nice touches in this collage such as the handwritten dollar sign and also the stencil effect.

Image credit: Mike McQuade

Rooster Etching

This is brilliant. Etching is difficult. The trick is understanding how the width of your lines corresponds to the contrast (light and dark areas) and how to draw them in such a way in order to accentuate that. Impressive!

Image credit: Benjamin Garner

Alonso Balaguer | Ikonik Hotel

Photo of the Ikonik Hotel, a minimalist hotel made out of shipping containers and created by Alonso Balaguer. Inspiring geometry.

Image credit: swiftlifeachiever

Hard Days Night

Fresh! Great job in making them recognizable. I’m pretty sure that any music lover will identify this group. Lovely color style, too.

Image credit: Made by Radio

The Cult Of Click

Beautiful idea and execution. Love the shape of the ribbon.

Image credit: Justin Mezzell

Maratona dles Dolomites

Riccardo Guasco’s first entry in the inspiration goes back to 2011 so you could say he’s a regular around here. Riccardo created 30 posters to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the famous Maratona dles Dolomites Gran Fondo. Simply a beautiful illustration style, a treasure for the eye.

Image credit: Riccardo Guasco

Maratona dles Dolomites II

Another one of the 30 posters series to to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Maratona dles Dolomites. The sharp angles are so well done and are always a kind of trademark in Riccardo’s work. Love the elegance, the color combo and the way they’re applied.

Image credit: Riccardo Guasco

Värmdö, Sweden

Beautiful shot from Värmdö, an island in the innermost region of the Stockholm archipelago. I love the serenity.

Image credit: Anders Jildén

Lazy Day

I love a simple animation. This one ticks off all the boxes. Also, note the colored MacOS window management circles on the pool.

Image credit: Léa Poisson

Construction Site

That head is super nice. The way it is represented by all those different building blocks is just clever. The subtle depth effect and gradients are very beautiful.

Image credit: Matt Carlson

Women’s Illustration II

It’s always a pleasure to see a little bit of humor in an illustration. Not exactly a color combo I would personally use but it works really well. Sometimes you need to leave your comfort zone and try something differently to get surprisingly strong results.

Image credit: AQ studio

Adobe Website Illustration

The many different levels, and geometric effects are nicely done here. A subtle color palette is used which gives it a certain softness. I also love the little wave the swimmer creates and the flow of the smoke following the lines of the illustration.

Image credit: Steve Scott

Funda Illustration

Adorable how this typical Dutch house is presented here. Such a friendly atmosphere as well.

Image credit: Patswerk


The origin of the word ‘dosh’ is unknown but it was first recorded in the 1950s. Possiblly a combination of the words ‘dollars’ and ‘cash’. This poster is visually inspired by the beautiful patterns found on banknotes. Beautiful composition and effect.

Image credit: nifty50

Corn/Fed Summer 14 Tour Poster

Nice typographic poster for a multiple city poetry reading event. Some cool details with corn leaves in front and back of the lines.

Image credit: Justin Crutchley

Day Trippers - Downpour

This made me laugh because it’s so recognizable. Looks like the kind of weather for a day trip like we have been having lately. The backdrop is nicely done. The highlights are so perfect, too!

Image credit: Davide Bonazzi

Diablo Lake

Enjoy the view! To me nature is always a good source of inspiration, and when captured so perfectly like this it makes you dream.

Image credit: Morgan Phillips

Shop - Global Blue

Cover for the SHOP magazine, an international luxury shopping, travel and lifestyle guide published by Global Blue. Love all those window shops constructed with only simple lines. It makes you keep on looking at it.

Image credit: MUTI

Shop - Global Blue II

Another cover for the SHOP magazine. This piece has much to discover with all those wonderful patterns in there. Tasty!

Image credit: MUTI

U of T Magazine

An illustration about how it could soon be possible to capture carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into fuel. Clever how it depicts a huge solar powered Carbon-molecule-shaped structure sucking carbon dioxide out of the air. Lots of beautiful details and a nice photographic composition with the trees as well as the cyclist in front on the right.

Image credit: Sam Chivers


Always a pleasure to discover new work from Mads Berg. Structures are ace and the reflection of the sunshine is simply original.

Image credit: Mads Berg

Les Echos Week-End

An illustration that shows how people find it hard to switch off from work, but really should whilst on holiday. Fun play with proportions.

Image credit: Adam Avery

The Guardian University Guide

The Guardian University Guide conceptualized. My favorite illustrations are those that have many layers that you can discover. This see-through of a train has all aforementioned elements.

Image credit: Adam Avery


Well-balanced formation of four flamingoes. It’s almost like they’re doing the famous dance.

Image credit: Makers Company

Maillot Jaune

Very sharp and I love the Merckx reference! Enjoying the subtleties. The pose on the bike is perfect. This illustration is so well done!

Image credit: MUTI

Star Trek Prints

This year, Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, 50 artists from around the world were commissioned to create original artwork inspired by the iconic franchise. This is the poster done by Ty Mattson. These strong lines and few colors characterizes Spock just perfectly.

Image credit: Ty Mattson


Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France. It’s where the first week of ‘Le Tour’ started. This beautiful shot is part of Ashley’s and Jered Gruber’s story of their first week.

Image credit: Strava Stories

Facebook Awards Annual

Wisely chosen colors & great style by Owen Davey. Just admire those haircuts and beards. Lovely silhouettes.

Image credit: Folio Illustration Agency

Super Team Deluxe - Ultimate Edition

Some fine gradients going on in this one. Delightful color palette as well.

Image credit: Justin Mezzell

Reflect - Equatex

Lovely cover illustrating all the connected sport apps.

Image credit: Makers Company


Sometimes you don’t need much to have a beautiful picture. I love the soft tones and blurriness in this one. You can almost feel the breeze of that hot summer day.

Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

Big White Bird

Totally adoring those short pants and T-shirt prints.

Image credit: Victoria Semykina

SOYO Frozen Yoghurt

Some inspiring brand illustrations for SOYO frozen yogurt. Be sure to check out to see them applied in real life. This one breathes the juiciness and sweet tastes of delicious fruit. Beautiful shapes, textures and colors.

Image credit: Brett King

Audi Dreams

Many fun elements are incorporated into this collage illustration. Bonus points to the wonderful color palette.

Image credit: fernando volken togni

Fast Company

Colorful work for Fast Company articles that live at the intersection of science and design. I admit, I do have a soft spot for overlaying colors and spirographs.

Image credit: THE HEADS of STATE

Element Three

The upper head is just wonderful. The fantasy in all the rest is quite something, too. I always love to study these; there’s so much to learn from such illustrations.

Image credit: Jorsh Peña

Folio Society - Epitaph For A Spy

The angles used in this comic illustration perfectly envision the sense of claustrophobia and paranoia. The shadows in this red color adds some extra drama in the mix, especially the heads of the people on the left. Carefully chosen colors, too.

Image credit: Paul Blow

Mystery 80.1

Smart use of colors to add depth and richness. Simply beautiful.

Image credit: DKNG

Beach Walk

Such an excellent photo! A perfect moment for a perfect composition. Can you also feel the inspiring mood and tones?

Image credit: Andrew Gowen

Rondo Open Haus – Zell Am See

Interesting composition going on with many different shapes. Not an easy task to make it all fit so well together. It’s like a true puzzle. So well done.

Image credit: Aleksandar Savić

Beach Reading

Editorial illustration for an article about holiday reading. Compliments on the colors! Also, check out the crab’s cute reading glasses.

Image credit: Studio Posti


A real eye-catcher with those super bright colors. It’s a series of illustrations for Canderel France to promote their line up of sweeteners. A clever idea to not show the lady’s eyes; that way the focus is on her mouth and the cup of coffee.

Image credit: Studio Posti

Golden Age Of Travelling

Excellent usage of gradient meshes. I’m seriously impressed with the balance between soft and hard. There is this perfect mix of a more realistically drawn technique, combined with a more flat specific drawn part. Very impressive and beautiful illustration style. Created for Scottish whiskey brand ‘The Macallan’.

Image credit: Jack Hughes

Bear In Whimsical Wild

A lovely color collection and clever usage of negative space to put the bear in. Nice overlaying color effects.

Image credit: Picomodi

The Parasite Underground

As always, a colorful adventure discovering all those elements that are tucked away inside the Brosmind creatures.

Image credit: Brosmind

An Interesting Day

A few interesting elements in this illustration. It also has an unusual color palette that you don’t see everyday.

Image credit: Owen Gatley

Of The Earth

A cool composition with just a few surfers in the frame. That golden light is also quite something!

Image credit: B K

Full-Time Freelance

Very neat and clean. Just the right amount of detail. Love the idea of the stacking bagage, especially the big pencil with the soccer ball on top.

Image credit: Matt Carlson

Sydney Opera House’s All About Women Festival

An editorial illustration for an article dedicated to gendered distribution of wealth. Love how some of the textures look, as if they were created with Wasco crayons.

Image credit: Sophie Blackhall-Cain

Further Reading

Smashing Editorial (il, mrn)