July 14, 2011

Are you an inspiration gatherer?

Filed under: Creativity — Tags: , — lidia @ 9:00 am

One of my current inspirations: photographing letterforms and numerals (photos: Lidia Varesco Racoma)

As a graphic designer, I’m lucky to have many opportunities to do creative research (one of my favorite parts of a project!) But even if you’re not in a creative field, spending some time during your week gathering inspiration can boost your mood—and productivity.

How do you gather inspiration?

Gathering inspiration can be as simple as taking a walk and stopping to observe the world around you. Or spending time with a child and seeing the world through their youthful eyes. Or reading an inspiring blog post or magazine article. You can even do it during your workday if you manage time wisely. There are plenty of apps that can help.

Tips for gathering inspiration

  • Keep track of blogs in an RSS Reader: I use Google Reader on my desktop and the Reeder app on my iPhone so I can quickly scan for posts of interest
  • Save interesting posts or websites to read later: I use the app Instapaper and catch up on reading when I have a free moment
  • Carry a sketchbook or small notebook at all times: I sometimes use my cell phone Notes app on-the-fly (i.e. while walking the dog!)
  • Pick up a magazine you don’t normally read: the library (or even the gym) is a great resource for free reading materials
  • Browse a bookstore and see what catches your eye: this always works for me!
  • Carry around a camera and randomly snap photos: one of my current “inspiration projects” is photographing letterforms and numerals that I come across in my neighborhood (see images above)

Managing your inspiration

  • Create file folders for each of your “inspirations”: I have folders for topics ranging from “home decor” to “book ideas”
  • Use an app to wrangle your ideas: I like Evernote because you can save multiple types of media (web pages, digital images, audio notes, etc.) Pinterest also allows you to save snippets of web pages.
  • Make lists: I keep running lists of things like, “books to read” and “client gift ideas” and update them regularly (again, I use Evernote for this).
  • Catalog your photography: create photo sets in a photo site like flickr so you can easily reference (or be inspired by) your photos

Gathering inspiration is a great way to break out of a creative rut, approach a challenge from a new angle, or take a break during your workday. Too busy? Do it on your lunch hour. The key is to approach the process without judgement or preconceived notions and just have fun. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you find!

Do you spend time during your week gathering inspiration?

Share what works for you in the comments!