When you tell people “I’m a graphic designer”, they usually ask the follow up question “where do you get your graphic design inspiration from?”.
That’s like asking a scientist where to find an atom.
Inspiration for graphic designers can practically come from anywhere. You can be walking down the street and catch something out of the corner of your eye that sparks an idea; a reflection in the window, a mirage of clashing fashions, an illusion you see in your peripheral vision.
The secret of finding inspiration for your graphic design projects is to observe life. We find staring into a space usually presents an idea, and this is when you have moments of inspiration that are truly unique to you.
10 Graphic Design Inspirational Tips
For the purpose of this article, we will be more specific. Below, are some ideas for you to blend into your graphic design projects, but these are all examples that were inspired from personal experiences We had as we casually strolled through life.
1- Use transparent backgrounds
This is an idea we had walking past a shop window. There was a very busy window display but the bus shelter was casting a shadow against the window which toned down the clutter of goods the shop had packed into the display.
When you adopt the same principle in a design, you can get away with feature rich or patterned images by masking it over with a semi-transparent second layer and using it as background.
There may be times when the images you need to use feature lots of detail, and it is often the case, especially online, that too much illustration is overwhelming.
2- Create exploding light in Photoshop
One of our favourite techniques to find graphic design inspiration is the exploding light effect in Photoshop. When you’re using heavy fonts, the exploding light effect adds an extra dimension and takes some of the focus away from the text.
The explosive elements are also instantly eye-catching. You can even add in some grunge elements which are unobtrusive and a time-tested strategy that has proven results. You can learn how to add light explosions in this tutorial.
3- Add luminescent lines in your ad designs
Glowing energy lines are another powerful lighting effect you can pull out of Photoshop. If you remember the old screensavers, you’ll know what we mean. They were pretty cool on their own, but splash it with a full blown image and luminescent lines look even more striking.
But lighting lines are not simply for visual effect. They can also be used to draw the viewer’s eyes to a particular feature or slogan in your ad that you want them to notice. Adding emphasis like this has an impact on CTA decisions and increases the chances of leads and sales – so if your designing ads for marketing purposes, your clients will be happy.
4- Use geometric pattern in logos
Geometric shapes are the building blocks of nature so it stands to reason that people are drawn towards logos and images that feature geometry. After all we are all part of a conscious Universe that creates nature.
Given geometric shapes communicate to the subconscious mind, the five principle shapes of nature are – circle, square, triangle, cross and spiral, – should feature in company logo. If you observe all the major corporations in the world, they are all using geometric shapes in their logo designs.
5- Find graphic design inspiration from other cultures
People typically find other cultures fascinating because they are discovering something new and different. Although we may fundamentally be creatures of habit and stick to the things we are familiar with, art broadens the mind and encourages people to try something new.
When consumers see something different they are immediately drawn to it out of curiosity. Others already have an affection for particular cultures and are drawn in when they see the influence in their hometown. Other cultures can be very persuasive.
However, you should be careful not to stereotype a particular culture as you could step on the eggshell of cultural appropriation and insult people.
6- Get a stitched effect
When you want to create something that is truly lifelike, try inserting a stitch effect in your text. It’s especially useful if you are designing artwork for kids, fashion and sport clothing labels. If you’ve never tried stitch-in-text design before check out the video tutorial below.
7- Create an abstract liquid effect
They’re not the simplest design to perfect, so only attempt this when the budget is there, but abstract liquid after-effects are a slick and powerful way of making your graphic design artwork pop with pleasure.
You can factor abstract liquid effects as a 2D element or a 3D rendering. Or both. The effect adds motion to the image and gives it more energy and vitality. If you keep the liquid effect subtle it is a very effective feature that stands out without distracting viewers from the main feature.
8- So much for the afterglow
Another motion feature is the afterglow effect which can be used to indicate something is moving at high-speed. The resulting artwork can sometimes be a blend between retro and futuristic, so choose this effect appropriately.
It also involves adjusting layer upon layer of masking to manipulate the impression and can take anything between 10 and 15 hours to complete, so make sure you have the charges covered before trying this one out.
9- Reimaging famous images
Providing you don’t totally rip of another artist’s work there is no copyright issues, so manipulating famous images to give it a unique look nobody has seen before, but will still immediately recognize is going to turn heads. Alternatively, you can take a feature of a famous image and put it in a different background.
There are multiple ways of making images look different, but we was particularly impressed by this retro image inspired by the Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover. As you will see it has been re-grafted with a glow-lighting effect around the performers.
10- Not go the whole retro
On the subject of retro, it’s trendy. It seems retro will always be trendy as fashions come and go and return whatever the era. It therefore makes sense to create retro artwork for your clients.
The retro look gives portraits a faded brush finish and may need tidying up with some prime tools to make the features you want to highlight stand out. But in general, retro is a funky option that appeals to a targeted audience.
To find more graphic design inspiration for your projects visit MadridNYC portfolio or check out the work of other artists in Pinterest.