“Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things stop being easy or rewarding because that’s the moment when interesting begins.”
Welcome to Episode 22: 10 Graphic Design Blogs To Inspire You
Ever find yourself in a creative rut and no matter what you’re working on as it just doesn’t look or feel right …? Honestly, who hasn’t been there!
What I find to be one of the most effective solutions to that horrid feeling of being unmotivated, uninspired, or disinterested in what I am trying to create is to dive into the digital realm of Google and hunker down into a good chunk of blog posts, podcasts, or quotes from other creatives humans just like me!
And with that being said, today’s special episode is for all you creatively talented individuals out there! Whether you already live in the land of graphic design, or are looking to take up this fine digital lifestyle …
Here's what we will be untangling in this episode ...
Are you ready?
Pop in your awesome earbuds and let's dive in!
Ever find yourself in a creative rut? And no matter what you’re working it just doesn’t look or feel right …?
Honestly, who hasn’t been there!
What I find to be one of the most effective solutions to that horrid feeling of being unmotivated, uninspired, or disinterested in what I am trying to create is to dive into the digital realm of Google and hunker down into a good chunk of blog posts, podcasts or quotes from other creatives humans just like me!
And with that being said, today’s special episode is for all you creatively talented individuals out there! Whether you already live in the land of graphic design or are looking to take up this fine digital lifestyle …
Which brings me to share a quote from one of my absolute favourite creative beings on the planet; Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic, who says …
“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
Inspiration doesn’t always come easy. Especially when you need to have your creative juices on and flowing every single day. Every designer at one point or another gets what’s known as “creative block”, otherwise known as barriers to our inspiration. Sometimes this block can last for days, weeks, months, and even years.
So, how do we as wonderfully creative humans, get past this sticky-icky mess?
Knowing the answer to this is something that comes with time and experience.
It’s truthfully all about mindset and flow … So, before you begin your creative process, make sure you know the purpose. And ask yourself …
These mains considerations will streamline your creative process by setting a framework to design within, all the while eliminating any impossibilities that can make your project less daunting and of course, without placing any restrictions on your creative process.
And to follow this up with yet another wonderful quote from Elizabeth Gilbert …
“Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things stop being easy or rewarding because that’s the moment when interesting begins.”
Once you have the purposeful details in place, things should come to you a lot easier. But if for some reason, you’re having “one of those days” and your creative juices still aren’t flowing as you need them to, there are a handful of virtual hubs I want to share with you that have helped me on creative blocked days …
When I run into trouble finding the inspiration, I ever so desperately need to get a new design project off the ground, I usually start with a deep breath and take a look at how other designers have dealt with this similarity in the past. It comes from a deep desire to generate some new ideas and create something utterly original, which can be easily sparked by crawling through other creative works of genius.
For starters … I always keep my office space and art studio packed with a library of design books, art and graffiti books, design industry magazines, marketing sample packages, Pantone swatch books, and even colour swatches from the local hardware store. These resources tend to fill their pages with up-to-date design ideas as well as their favourites from past issues, all of which can fuel some amazing levels of inspiration. And you may laugh at me, but every marketing sample package that lands in my snail mailbox, gets squirrelled away (Every. Single. One.) as they usually appeal to me in some way; either because I admire the finish of the stock they’re produced their product on or because it contained an innovative or visually appealing piece of work – written or graphically creative. All these items can then be drawn upon as sources of creative inspiration.
And to get the inspiration ball rolling …
Here’s that list I promised you of the greatest TOP 10 graphic design blogs to fill your noggin’ with inspiration … From brim to brim!
(Pssst …. If you’re looking for the hyperlinks, you will be able to find them in the transcription of this episode or even snatch them up from this week’s featured LinkedIn article so you can bookmark them all for later reads and future inspiration!)
Now that you’ve gotten yourself started with those …. another good source of inspiration would be to troll social media. Especially Pinterest … that’s right, I am encouraging you to stop what you are doing at this very moment -- and yes, you can pause this episode, I won’t be offended -- and head on over to the dark side for a few moments. Just don’t get lost in the abyss of #AllThings in there. It’s a great resource but you have to be careful not to stump your productivity by getting too sidetracked. (LOL!)
I have honestly found some of my best inspirations from this platform as it’s packed with stunning artwork, photography, and designs from amazingly talented artists from around the globe. And, if not in a reading mood, Pinterest is honestly easy-as-pie to search through and navigate. For those of you who haven’t already … set up your own account to save create an “inspiration” board to refer back to on those brain stumbling days!
What I’d like to suggest most of all is to create your own “catalogue” of inspiration. This is one of the best things you can do in preparation for those ever so dreaded “block” days … And start a collection of things you have read, seen, or listened to that you find utterly interesting and inspiring. Bookmark your favourite websites to refer to; pin images to a special Pinterest board; follow designers on Instagram and Behance; even go to the lengths of tearing out pages from a magazine and creating a mood board or two.
Creating these personal collections for yourself will provide you with a never-ending reference source for future projects and “block” days.
Okay, next on our inspirational list of goodies for today which ties ever so nicely hand-in-hand with today’s topic …. is something I like to call the 10 commandments of graphic design. A “top 10” if you will, of important things to keep top of mind while scouring the web and all those graphic design blog posts for inspiration.
Let’s dive right on in …
COMMANDMENT #1: NEVER USE CLIPART TO MAKE A STATEMENT.
You want your brand to be original and stand out, right? And you want your audience to remember you for the empowering brand you show forth to the world, right?
Well, when you are going for originality (which everyone is – and should be), clipart and word art images are an absolute huge no-no in design-land. They not only look bad but sabotage your brand’s identity by saying “Hey, we didn’t have time (or care enough) to come up with something unique and creative to what our voice is trying to say so we hopped on the Google-train”.
Yes, I know … clipart and word art are free. But there is a fine line between free and saving time and doing things right. If your budget is tight try something like Canva.
So, please oh please, stay far away from these choices as much as possible. Pretty much at all if you take pride in your brand.
COMMANDMENT #2: NEVER (EVER) USE IMAGES WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION.
This one is simple and not hard to follow … if something doesn’t belong to you, make it clear. Don’t be “that guy” (or gal) going around, stealing graphics from the ends of the earth, and not crediting the actual artist. Most stock photo sites make it super easy to offer an attribution for each file downloaded so there really is no excuse.
COMMANDMENT #3: NEVER (EVER) USE UNDER-QUALITY, GRAINY IMAGERY.
This one follows in line with #1 and #2 … Imagine this, you’re doing a happy dance because you just found the “perfect” stock photo for your document, website, whatever … but it needs to be larger. So, you stretch it to fit the size needed. Ehhh, wrong! Any time that you stretch a raster image larger, your image will start looking grainy and blurry. Almost nothing ruins a professional design worse than grainy images.
The internet is a huge place… so take the time you need to find a similar image that is large enough for your needs. Making an image smaller is always okay. Or, if you have the pleasure of working in Photoshop, you can check the size of your artwork at 100% (or by viewing the print size) to make sure everything looks crisp and clean.
COMMANDMENT #4: HONOUR THY WHITESPACE.
In today’s day-in-age they say content is king, so this makes us often tempted to put down every bit of information we have on everything we put out with our brand’s face on it. Which brings me to this especially important tool in every designer’s virtual tool bag, white space. So, to cut to the chase, the basic rule of thumb here is the whiter the space, the more clean, sophisticated, modern, and organized your design will feel. Your content will immediately become easier to digest and feels more organized.
Less is more, people. Less is more!
COMMANDMENT #5: PROOFREAD BEFORE GOING VIRTUAL.
This is a common error in design-land as sometimes not all designers are writers and not all writers are designers. So, try not to rely on your spell checker too much. Your computer can do a lot to help you out, but if you use the tools at your disposal without thinking or double-checking your work on your own, you could find yourself in big trouble with an error you may not be able to go back and fix. So please, proofread. Then read it again, and again.
Trust me, you do not want your branded designs to go viral for all the wrong reasons! One teeny tiny typo can make a difference to what your audience is trying to remember you for. A good example, that I saw recently was the difference between an Angus burger … well, and something entirely different. I would hate to be the designer on that end of the conversation. (LOL!)
COMMANDMENT #6: CONSISTENCY IS KEY … THE GOLDEN KEY.
The information you share with the world should reflect your brand. Therefore, you need to have a consistent style, colour theme, typefaces (remember … never more than three outside of the “family”), and tone of voice. Don’t be afraid to be creative with your visuals -- and your writing -- to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more. Just make sure you are keeping things consistent throughout all means of communication.
COMMANDMENT #7: STEER CLEAR OF FADS AND CLICHÉS.
It’s always fun to gather around the metaphorical water cooler -- or virtual in most of our cases these days -- and jest about all the exciting new things in the land of design and marketing. However, just like fads in clothing, these brand design ideas tend to take the same motion. Meaning they are here for a good time, not a long time.
COMMANDMENT #8: MAKE SMART FONT CHOICES.
Every single font has its own personality, just like people.
It boils down to knowing your target audience, your document’s purpose, and then venture out to find a good font choice that matches those expectations -- but also following brand standards. You may not realize this, but a single font choice can either make or break your brand or document. So, if you happen to be using a “default” font, you are showing the world that you don’t know of any other options -- or are just too lazy to find any.
So, sit back and think about font personalities, your audience, and what you’re trying to achieve with this branded document. In most cases, there is always something better than the default choices … Times New Roman, Calibri, and Arial, just to name a few.
And if after listening to today’s episode, you’re still feeling stuck on ideas, or perhaps just starting to build your brand – or one for a client, check out VU’s blog post called “My TOP 25 Favourite Fonts” to get the ball rolling!
COMMANDMENT #9: BE PUNCTUAL WITH YOUR PUNCTUATION.
Punctuation can have a powerful visual impact on your audience. Make sure to use apostrophes correctly and know where to place quotation marks. Use a hyphen for compound adjectives and make sure you know the difference between a colon and a semi-colon. Use commas to indicate nonessential information and if ever in doubt, rewrite or use a dictionary. For those of you living in our neck of the woods, the best resources on this topic would be the Canadian Press Caps and Spelling (21st Edition) and the Canadian Press Stylebook.
Both books can be purchased online or at your local bookstore for a very reasonable price and can build your confidence in your writing skills.
And last but most certainly not least …
COMMANDMENT #10: BRING ORGANIZATION WITH ALIGNMENT.
Aligning all your elements can of course take some time, but in the end, it will only bring organization and sophistication to your graphic elements. It will also help your message get across more clearly and consistently because organized graphics are easier for viewers to interpret.
With all of this in mind, I only have one more thing to add … which we like to think of as THE GOLDEN RULE in design-land …
CONSISTENCY LEADS TO RECOGNITION. AND RECOGNITION LEADS TO TRUST.
So, to end things off on a lighter note as I just filled your precious noggin’ with so much inspirational information … Think of today’s special resource-filled episode as nerdy Christmas in April. (LOL!)
Creativity doesn’t always come naturally, especially when we need it to the most, but planning ahead by collecting your own inspiration, experimenting with other mediums and sources, and treating yourself right, adds a fresh new face to a whole new level of creativity! And remember …
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. And you can thank lovely Maya Angelou for those precious words.