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Default CategoryJul 01, 2014

Inspiration is for Amateurs

Justin Miller

Working in the digital space has made me lazy. As a designer I constantly read blogs and look at designer sites to get inspired or keep myself informed about the design world. I have learned that process can make me very boring as a designer and inhibits me from being truly creative and unique.

On the way to work the other day I was listening to the podcast Shoptalk, and they repeated a quote from a listener by an artist I am very fond of, Chuck Close:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

I agree with Close, you shouldn’t need an inspirational lightning bolt to hit you in the face before every creative moment. We know in the real world there are deadlines and there isn’t enough time in the day to wait for “inspiration.”

The inspiration that is a necessity for designers is out in the real world. It is not on Dribbble or design blogs showing what trends need to be followed. You are the one in control of making great design—it should not be by a trend someone else started. To truly be unique and inspired I believe it’s not looking at a screen. I believe we as designers or just as professionals need to get off our butts and get out there! We either need to be out in nature, going to museums, or pretty much anywhere but looking at a computer for true inspiration.

I don’t want to totally trash the Internet because obviously there is a lot of inspiration online. It is also good to see what others are doing and to try to stay away from certain trends. The design community can easily get sucked into what’s trending and designers are pushed to repeat what everyone else is doing.

It’s refreshing for your eyes to pull inspiration from something else like a painting. The colors in a painting could inspire you to go a certain route for your next app design. The great thing about a painting is everyone sees it differently. There is an example below of how people could pull inspiration from an abstract painting.

So follow the Apple slogan and simply think different. Don’t look at your computer, take a break from the Internet, and find inspiration another way.