As a designer in the age of the Internet, finding inspiration isn’t exactly a difficult task. Countless websites and blogs devoted specifically to curating collections of visual stimulation exist in all corners of the world of design, not to mention the overwhelming wormholes of sites like Pinterest and Tumblr.
The downside to Internet inspiration is inherent in the concept of the Internet itself: everything is available for everyone. Which means that, despite the vastness of the web, we are bound to take influence from many of the same places, people and things; everything eventually becomes a variation of the same things.
But fear not, downtrodden designer! As a creative thinker and collector of visual things, you have a plethora of sources to draw inspiration from that are unique to you. For example: I grew up in the ’90s, a decade notorious for whacky patterns, endearingly clunky technology and arguably some of the most regrettable fashion trends. All of these things (and many, many, many others) have been stored in a part of my brain I like to call the Epicenter of Nostalgia. This is where I keep all of the weird, random memories and feelings I had growing up in ’90s suburbia, stored on VHS tapes and floppy disks for later reference. All of these things and experiences serve as my inspiration goldmine for art, design and life in general.
But while the Epicenter of Nostalgia serves an important purpose, it is not an endless archive. Just like the Internet, drawing upon the same sources time after time will eventually lead to work that is repetitive, unoriginal and/or derivative. That’s why, sometimes, you need to take a few steps outside your comfort zone.
Saying things like “meet new people” and “visit new places” aren’t exactly actionable steps, but getting out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do when you need an inspirational kick in the pants. Wander around an antique mall and immerse yourself in the decades of memories that live there; say hello to the older adult sitting alone at the coffee shop – they always have the best stories; take a walk in a part of town you’re not familiar with; offer to buy dinner for a homeless person in exchange for a conversation; take a weekend roadtrip to a city you’ve never been – it doesn’t matter how you go about it, doing something that gets you out of your comfort zone will undoubtedly allow you to experience something new.
And what better way to get inspired to create something new than a new experience?