banner to the article on the sources of inspiration
banner to the article on the sources of inspiration

Best ways to get inspired

Being a graphic designer is difficult. Not only because of the huge expectations you need to meet to stay in the industry but also because of the creative nature of the job. We’ve already established that designers don’t work on a whim. However, it is still important for a designer to get ideas somewhere. At the end of the day, it is their job to create artworks that need to fit into a lot of different criteria, but be original at the same time. And to make their life easier and save a little mental stability, it is nice to get inspired by things sometimes. Today, I’ll share something that helps me, hoping it will help you too!

Inspired or plagiarized?

Cambridge Dictionary defines inspiration as someone or something that gives you ideas for doing something. However, it is not as easy as that. You cannot look at a cool movie poster and ask your art major friend to redraw it and add “cafe” at the bottom. You may mistakenly think that people will see the sense of familiarity that will make them want to check out your cafe. However, in reality, this is not the case. If you plagiarize the “Back to the Future” poster, people will see it and think – “Woah, this guy had the guts to steal someone’s work.”

painting with eyes

On the other hand, if you were to ask your friend to take the overall topic and vibe of the “Back to the Future” movie and create a poster inspired by it, the situation would change drastically. The best-case scenario is that your friend creates a poster inspired by the soundtrack and the movie itself that has some recognizable elements. Now, your clients walk by and smile when seeing your poster because the silhouette of the DeLorean makes them reminisce and want to visit your cafe. 

So, what is the moral of the story? Inspiration is a mere tool used to fasten creative design process or create familiarity with the product. However, you should always remember that  design inspiration is when you rethink a piece of art, rather than copy it and leave it be. 

And if you don’t feel like missing a single plagiarized detail, be sure to check out Approval Studio. Its Review tool will help you to point out any problems or inconsistencies with the creative brief. And later, compare different versions of the same artwork to determine which one you deem worthy of using. Streamline your approval process by using the best online proofing software.

Watch a film

One of the oldest tricks in the books on how to get inspiration is, of course, watching movies. I mean, I do that all the time when I need to think of something new. However, if you are doing it deliberately, watching a random movie from your wish list doesn’t always work. In the same way, a specific graphic design movie may not work. Sometimes, to get inspired you need to watch a movie so visually stunning it makes your jaw drop and eyes widen. 

a part of a floral composition

And the easiest way to do so is to turn any Wes Anderson movie on, of course. However, sometimes we all have a mood for something new, undiscovered. So, if you are in the mood I’d rather you check out some of my favorite indie movies that will make you smile, thinking that it looks like a painting.

  • “The Witch”, 2015. Honestly, I watched it solely because of its poster and the neither visual design in film nor language, or the story disappointed me.
  • “Midsommar”, 2019. Another psychological thriller that will make your eyes happy, but twist your gut at the same time. 
  • “Ophelia”, 2018. This is a historical drama based on Hamlet. However, it takes another point of view and adds so many stunning visuals.
  • “Chungking Express”, 1994. This one has a completely different vibe from the other ones, but still, with absolutely gorgeous visuals, you can observe for hours on end.

Look at the past 

There’s a Ukrainian proverb that says that everything new is well-forgotten old, which makes sense when you think about it. There are only so many things you can create from scratch. However, improving things that have already been forgotten is an endless process. No, I don’t mean that we should just copy things from the past. But they are definitely a source of new ideas.

entrance to the archeological cite

So if you are feeling down in the dumps, try looking for any antique shops in the vicinity. Make it into a little treasure hunt, try to find the most good-looking cutlery, furniture, or even clothes. In combination with the walk, this will be the perfect experience for you to start. Not only will you get an energy boost, but you may also find some new shapes, colors, and ideas that could be implemented into your next work.

Another thing you can do is get some travel inspiration. Architectural designs, frescos, stories of past lives – all that can be a huge push to your work. For me nothing is more inspirational than a lovers’ story from Pompeii. You, however, can find something that works like that for you.

Listen to your heart (a podcast)

As strange as it may sound, podcasts are actually an amazing way to get inspired for your new artwork. You see, inspiration is not always about looking for something pretty. It is about finding things that resonate with you and help you come up with something pretty. And the list of those things is truly extensive. It can include the life stories of famous artists or designers, life vlogs (as much as NDAs allow), tips and talks about styles, and graphic design drama for god’s sake!

two professional microphones

There are many such podcasts for graphic designers on the Internet and you can find whichever works for you. The following ones are ones I enjoyed:

  1. “The Angry Designer” by Massimo Zefferino and Shawn Carlisle: a cool podcast about everything connected with graphic designers and their work. You can go there for everything: advice, rants, drama. 
  2. Creative Pep Talk” by Andy J. Pizza: a wholehearted graphic design podcast that will give you some advice on how to do better at your work as a designer. However, you don’t need to be a creative specifically to enjoy it.
  3. “The DGDC – Deeply Graphic Designcast” by Nick Longo, Mikelle Morrison, and Jordan Wilson: something to listen to if you are best inspired by the day-to-day life and work of graphic designers. 

Listen to your heart (a song)

Just like podcasts, music for designers is a huge part of people’s inspirational process. Mostly, because it helps you to feel and makes expressing emotions much easier. The best part is that listening to the song evokes different emotions based on why and how you’re listening to it. You can vibe with the melody, simply enjoying the tune. Or you can actually listen to the song, trying to hear those amazing lyrics and the way the singer expresses them. Or, you analyze the song, unfolding layers and easter eggs in the lyrics. 

coffee and phone with headphones

Those three levels bring different emotions and different kinds of inspiration. On the first level, you just vibe and create designs that feel the same way as the song. On the third, however, you create things as deep and emotional as your connection with the song. Whatever the level, though, you get inspired. And we do, too. That’s why we’ve created a small playlist with the songs that inspire Approval Studio’s team. Maybe, some of these will help you to create something spectacular too!) 

Turn to social media 

However, the best and quickest way to get graphic design inspiration is to browse the internet for new artistic trends and works. It is the trickiest way, though, because it requires the most attention to the difference between plagiarized and inspired by. However, it is worth it and can be fully customized.

a phone with Instagram open

For example, services like Pinterest or Designspiration can be used as a mood board for your new asset. This will be an easy way to display the vision of the project to the people outside your head. On the other hand, Instagram art pages will help you keep up with all the latest trends and changes in the industry. This way you will understand what the general audience finds appealing, and you will be able to use it in your latest works.

Final takeaway

Inspiration is different for each person. And it is more important to understand the reasons behind this feeling rather than randomly waiting for it to strike. Just like any job, being a graphic designer requires persistence and constant work on tasks, deadlines, and clients. It would be impossible to do that in a good way if you just keep waiting for divine inspiration to strike. So, get out of your comfort zone, find things that inspire you, analyze, and study. And we will make sure all of your work will be approved in the best way possible.

Picture of Nana


A girl who cannot imagine her life without coffee with orange juice & something new. Can spend the night reading articles on topics she has never even heard about the night before. Actually, that was how she started her path in design.
Picture of Nana


A girl who cannot imagine her life without coffee with orange juice & something new. Can spend the night reading articles on topics she has never even heard about the night before. Actually, that was how she started her path in design.

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