Inspiring Inspiration

Inspiration is one of those concepts that many people shrug off as an intangible idea, something that comes and goes at the whim of a muse. It’s true that inspiration can often be a frustrating thing to achieve, but in reality it’s not something you have to wait for passively. Working in a creative agency, we move quickly from project to project, and it becomes necessary to create concepts for many different projects a day. If we sat back and waited for the lightbulb to show up on its own, nothing would get done. So, there are three go-to techniques I use to find that ever-elusive inspiration.

1. Research

This step sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. If you have the basic information about the project that you’re about to start, get online and look at other similar projects! Get your brain moving by seeing what other people have done. Relax and enjoy looking at all the pretty things that are out there, and look forward to adding to them. If you know you’d like to have some gold typography in your piece, visit a site like and search for “gold type.” Pinterest works too! I have a folder on my desktop full of images I liked so much I had to keep. Let the ideas flow through you, and get inspired by what draws you in.

2. Talk to People

Bouncing ideas back and forth is probably the most efficient way to get an idea nailed down. Not only do you have two (or more) brains churning out ideas, you get to hear your thoughts out loud and see if they make any sense. Plucking a thought out of your head and saying it out loud can reveal major flaws – or major highlights! Have an idea that isn’t quite fully formed? See if a colleague can flesh it out, it’ll probably turn out a little more well rounded. Most importantly, this step stops you from vetoing good ideas in your head before they even get a chance to grow.

3. Get it on Paper

I spend the majority of my workday on a computer, but I’m a firm believer in paper before screen. Writers, designers, any creative can benefit from jot notes, thumbnail sketches, wireframes, and abstract doodles. Sketching lets you test out your ideas without committing to anything. The sketches don’t have to be good, they just have to make sense to you. Similar to talking to people, sketches are just another way to get the ideas out of your brain and into the world. Bonus points if you sit down with a couple of colleagues, and sketch away together on a big piece of paper.

Of course, if all else fails the perfect idea might just come on your walk home, or in your morning shower. We don’t always know where inspiration is hiding, this is just a great way to try and coax it out.

Bonus Note: Here’s a really great podcast about inspiration, original (and not so original) ideas, and how some people manage to strike inspiration gold.

What’s your favourite tip for getting the creative juices flowing?