How to Find Inspiration for Anything

Illustration of a light bulb surrounded by plants and light

Have you ever stared blankly at an empty page, fridge, or room? Sometimes the ideas just aren't flowing.

A lot of times in situations like that, you can just work through the slump and kind of force yourself to get over it. But ideally, inspiration will come and you'll be full of ideas and motivation again.

As someone who has had creative projects for as long as I can remember, and has been running a business off being creative for over five years now, I decided to share with you my five best tips for finding inspiration.

Illustration of music, a houseplant, and a mug

Set Up an Ideal Environment

I've found over the years that a good percentage of inspiration is actually about preparation. One thing that is important when preparing to be creative is optimizing your environment for creativity.

Focus on Your Senses

My mind works best when all of my senses are at ease. 

Put on some comfortable clothes, make sure the room is a good temperature, get a nice drink, put on some music, light a candle - do whatever you can to make your work environment as pleasant as possible.

Change It Up

If your regular work environment has started to feel a little stale, despite all of the things you've done to make it great, it may be that you need a change of scenery.

Sometimes simply working from my dining room table instead of my office can help me feel fresh. If you need more of a change than that, try working at a library, a cafe, or a friend's house for the day.

Doing something a little different that the norm is a great way to break out of a rut.

Make It Easy to Work

In your optimized home office or elsewhere, make it as easy as possible to actually do the work you need to do. That means making sure all of your tools are within reach and ready to go, whether that means sharpening pencils or charging your laptop. Also be sure you have plenty of room to work. 

You want to make sure you don't have to think about the physical/technical act of working as little as possible once you start.

Illustration of various people

Follow Individual creators

Pinterest and Instagram are great places to search for logo, living room, dinner, etc, ideas, but simply seeing one final photo out of context gives you little information about the how and why behind the creation.

Take Inspiration from Their Work and Methods

What I've found more valuable that scrolling social media for hours waiting for inspiration to pop up from the hundred of images is intentionally following artists I find inspirational. Often it's their behind-the-scenes or process that inspire me, rather than their finished pieces.

Make Your Social Media Feeds Inspirational

Social media has become so much more than keeping up with your family and your friends from high school. Who we choose to follow sets the tone for how we experience the internet. 

I now make it a habit to follow people who inspire me to better myself creatively and spiritually. If I need inspiration for a new a visual brand, I just have to scroll through my Instagram. 

I don't just follow designers, either. I follow lifestyle bloggers, illustrators, filmmakers, quilters, singer/songwriters, small business owners, and more. They all are living creative lives that I respect and can draw inspiration from.

Foster a Sense of Community

Another benefit to following individual creators rather than sifting through a sea of images is the opportunity for conversation. Instead of feeling like you're on this creative journey alone, you're able to see and hear from people on the same path as you, and possibly build connections that continually encourage and inspire you.

Illustration of scribbles and trash cans

Make Garbage

Waiting to start writing or drawing until you have an idea? Don't!

Sometime all you need is to simply start - even with terrible ideas - to get your creative juices going. Not every idea you'll have will be good; that's true of everyone.

Sometimes getting all the terrible ideas out will make room in your head for some good ones.

Illustration of a pencil

Tactile Brainstorming

Related to making garbage, the fastest way to get ideas out is simple pen and paper. Not focusing on a finished product or any tools or supplies you need allow you to simply focus on ideas.

I find this especially helpful for logo designs. Even though I usually end up building all of my logos in Illustrator, getting the basic shapes and ideas on paper is MUCH faster that starting all of them digitally. It allows me to sort the good ideas from the bad before investing a lot of time into them.

For more on tactile brainstorming, read: Brainstorming Methods I Use for Logo Design

Illustration of trees, speech bubbles, and bushes

Do Something Else

If time allows, this is my most sure-fire way to get inspired. 

I simply take a break.

I got for a hike, or go get lunch, or even go on vacation.

Road trips are a great time to get inspired. You know how you have your best ideas in the shower? It's because your body is occupied with showering, and your mind is allowed to wander. A road trip, for me, can be hours of that.

Even better, take a break by doing something that inspires you. For me, that's deep conversations with friends, art galleries, or nature. Where does your mind feel the most clear?

Question marks and dots

Know Why You're Doing It

Sometimes creating something just so you can say you made it is enough.

But if you're searching for inspiration, I bet there's a bigger reason behind what you want to create than you just feeling like it.

That reason could be small - you want to make a nice dinner for your friend because they had a bad day - or it could be big - like wanting to make your coming baby's nursery warm and welcoming.

But maybe in the process of figuring out how you're going to make those things happen, you've forgotten why you're doing them.

I encourage you to keep coming back to your why. 

I bet it's pretty inspirational.


Illustration of a paint tube doing yoga

FURTHER READING

HOW TO CHOOSE A FLEXIBLE & ENGAGING COLOR PALETTE

When you start combining colors together, and try to create something harmonious and set the right tone, things can get really frustrating really quickly.