How to Find Inspiration as a Freelance Designer

How to Find Inspiration as a Freelance Designer
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When you are hired as a web or graphic designer, your client is relying upon your expertise to provide them with something – be it a logo, a page design, or even a full website – that is outside of their own programming and artistic abilities. They are buying your wisdom, experience, and inspiration to deliver something that they cannot. But to do that means that your own skills have to be top notch so that you can produce something that will be eye-catching and draw people to your client’s website and whatever product or service they are peddling, or point they are trying to put across. 

This means that you have to follow certain fundamental rules, and bear a few points in mind such as:

Look at The Work of Other Designers or Browse Online Galleries

We all know that cheats don’t prosper and copying is just lazy, but it’s also true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so that doesn’t mean that you can’t find inspiration in other websites that you browse on the internet. Have a look at Design awards websites and see what has got the judges there all hot and bothered. Try to analyse why a particular website has been awarded and what points make it different from other that you have seen. The kinds of designers who are chosen for these awards are highly skilled and their subtle use of imagery and colour sets their site aside from the everyday dross from someone with little talent. Also, why not browse lessons on YouTube and other social media sites. People love to show off what they have done, and tell you how to do it, so follow their lead and spend some time just looking and taking in the ambiance.

If there’s one thing that graphic and web designers like, it is showing off their work, and getting some feedback. That means there are plenty of online galleries where the work from some of the best and most creative designers are displayed, and while direct replication is frowned on, many designers are keen on what they see as homage to their ideas. Galleries such as webcreme are a rich source of amazing talent and ideas that can help transform the mundane into something extraordinary.

Other sites, such as TextureKing and DesignCrowd offer essential parts for websites such as backgrounds and logos so that you can either use them directly, or construct your own variations of them, depending upon your Photoshop skills. Obviously high-resolution images are a must and are a large amount of royalty-free providers with a huge stock of free-to-use images and of a decent size too.

Here’s some cool places where you can find inspiration as a freelance designer:

Grab a Design Book

It’s an unfortunate fact that many freelance designers believe that if you can’t find it on the internet then it either doesn’t exist or is woefully inadequate, but there is a huge grand tradition of designers who have got it right and have their works displayed in books rather than on a web-page. To ignore books is to dismiss a huge swage of exciting and inspirational art and design, with the added bonus of having commentary alongside describing why it works or how the artist has pushed boundaries. Whether it is the works of fine artists, architecture, product design, or website content, you will find a huge number of books dealing with them in your local library. Calming and serene, the library also gives you the chance to concentrate in peaceful surroundings, and that has to be a good environment to soak up the ambiance of all that inspiration.

Think Outside of the Box… Again

As the 90’s world of graphic and graphics programs grew, websites took on a whole new feel, but it wasn’t necessarily a good thing. People started adding moving images, music, and lots of pop-ups to their site, mostly just because they could rather than for any artistic merit. This brought forth a glut of websites almost mesmerical in their assault on the senses with purple flying elephants floating across the screen to “Ritt der Walküren” for no apparent reason. Internet commentators pouring scorn on the practice, and scorn eventually won. Thankfully, websites returned to the static pictures with text on set pages in a nice, but slightly vanilla way. However, many web designers are returning to the notion of multimedia usage, but this time it is being done with much more skill and aplomb. Design-orientated sites such as Designmodo specialise in showcasing the latest advances in website design, even if they are a tad more retro than anybody wants to admit.

Obviously, things have moved on from simple Graphics Interface Files (otherwise known as a GIF) with their sometimes tedious and migraine-inducing flashiness and we now have Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to help handle elements on a page via HTML. This means that they can be controlled with greater efficiency and less of the in-your-face graphics that you get with GIF’s or Flash files, and that is good news for anyone visiting your site, particularly those prone to epilepsy.

Create a Private Collection of Inspiration to Refer to

Of course, design of any type has certain fundamental rules that need to be followed, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment. The colour wheel is usually right and complimentary, analogous, triad and tetradic colour combinations are probably best left alone, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t muck about with the ways that they go together and to try different ways in which they complement each other, such as backgrounds with text and flares of colour as overlays. 

You can carry out a similar exercise with shape and form, and store your works in a private library of inspiration that you can go through to look at what works, just as much as what doesn’t. Fill your library with a much work or parts that you can and constantly strive to add to it as it’s guaranteed that there will be something in there that will give you inspiration in the future.

If you find some images that you like, store them up and refer to them for future use, and the same goes for any really, really good-looking websites that you come across; create a bookmark and keep it in your inspirational library so that you can easily come back to it in the future.

Not Designing Websites?

If you are more concerned with creating images, pictures and logos, than full websites, then you will also get plenty of inspiration from these and other sites. You may be more interested in image fundamentals such as colour balance – though that should be something on your mind when creating websites too – and you may find that using online resources like colour wheels to make sure that your combinations are just right. You can also get a huge amount of inspiration by browsing the various Photoshop tutorials sites, which will give you some great ideas as well as instruct you on how to carry them out properly too. There are even sections on some of them aimed specifically at giving you inspiration and host interviews with top designers. What more do you need?

Similarly, if you are working in 3D modelling, have a look through the galleries on the Computer Graphics Society to see what others have achieved and detailed descriptions of how they actually did it.

Now that You Are Inspired…

With the work of others to inspire you and a host of decent resources to help build and populate your website or graphics project, you are bound to start creating top class works, which just may well prove to be inspirational for others too.

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