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Thursday, July 17, 2008
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A few weeks ago we published a list of 34 places to get design inspiration online and off and it proved to be one of our most popular articles to date. So today we journey back out to the world of design inspiration to bring you many, many more places to get inspiration - 60 to be precise.
I have literally been combing the web and have unearthed so many great sites and places that I’d never seen. From advertising to architecture, graphics to web, art to design, there’s a bit of everything. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed finding them and that they inspire some of the great works of tomorrow!
If you’re going to spend all day at your desk, you should have an inspirational wallpaper to blow your mind every time you close a window. Desktopography features some of the most visually stunning wallpapers around - all based on nature themes so that you can fool you eyes into thinking you’ve been outdoors sometime this month.
Out of all the sites listed here, this is probably the most innovative. By pairing up words set in semantic structures taken from real slogans with related images piped through from Flickr, the Ad Generator is disturbingly good at generating clever little adverts. Made as a Masters Thesis project, I can only hope that Alexis Lloyd (the site’s creator) absolutely dominated his course that year.
FaveUp is a site that pares back to the very simplest of galleries, showcasing logos, business cards, CSS websites and Flash sites all in the same place. The site only launched last week but already has some 250 entries on it.
Part Magazine, part web portal, all inspirational goodness. NWP with it’s super little logo is an oldie but goodie of design portals.
Not everyone ‘gets’ Styleboost and certainly it isn’t your run of the mill inspiration gallery/blog, but thanks to Johan’s adept steering of the site since way back in 2001, the gallery has flowered into one of the best and brightest showcases around.
Think email marketing is all ugly? Think again. CampaignMonitor - which is a neat email sending web app - hosts a gallery of some really lovely email marketing, ordered up into type and layout for your perusal needs.
Cpluv has hands down the coolest logo of this bunch of inspiration sites. As one of the grand-daddies of design inspiration, I’m impressed to see the site still churning out design news and inspiration to get your bum wiggling in its seat with excitement.
Some five hundred business cards ranging from the cute to the elegant to the innovative. DailyPoetic has worked hard to pull this set together, so we can enjoy it!
Although many people find flash banner ads to be annoying they are in fact somewhat of an artform. This Australian site has put together a gallery of excellent banner advertisements ranging from the funny to the technically brilliant. Well worth a visit!
PDF-Mags is one of those sites where I am not entirely sure how money is made on the site. But frankly who cares, when there is this much PDFy Magaziney goodness to be had … for FREE!
CSSElite is one of my favourite CSS galleries and I say this not just because they happen to have a link to FreelanceSwitch on the cover page - though that doesn’t hurt! If you want good, clean design, be sure to pay them a visit.
They’ve been around since, like forever, spawned conferences around the world, a magazine and plenty of immitators. They’ve also managed to avoid redesigning their site for half a decade *hint*. Still DesignIsKinky continues to bring quality art/design to a screen near you.
A huge archive of some of the coolest, cleverest or just prettiest advertising from around the world. Choose to browse print, tv, radio, online or ambient and let your creativity be inspired.
A big categorized directory of designer portfolios laid out for you to gaze at. I’m sorry I can’t resist saying this but … ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US!
One of my favourite web design galleries, WebCreme is simple, elegant and doesn’t let itself get in the way of the awesome designs.
DesignFlood does what it says on the box, with 30+ pages of design you’ll enjoy using their gigantic rating buttons to pass judgement on other people’s work!
StartDrawing is “the asia drawing portal” and it showcases some fantastic work. What was best about this site however was the gigantic banner that said “Nearly 4 billion Asians… there *must* be some good artists” - judging by StartDrawing, there certainly are!
One of the very first galleries to show my work, CSSRemix is another favourite CSS gallery of mine (you’ll find I have quite a few). It doesn’t list as many sites as some galleries but the quality is fantastic.
If you like advertising or motion graphics you’re sure to enjoy this gallery, provided that is, that you can handle the fact that they use RealPlayer to handle the video
If you’re like me you probably think ecards are a bit naff, but wait till you see some of the stuff at MaxTango. They have a growing gallery of some 400 ecards that you can score, upload, send and get inspired by.
Where would we be without gorgeous typography? Nowhere, that’s where. That’s why every designer should have The Serif in their bookmarks, for a daily feed of typey goodness.
A lot of designers love architecture, certainly architects love elegant graphic design. So if you’re in the mood for a bit of inspiration from the built environment, try Archinect’s Gallery of 5000+ photos of architecture projects.
It took me a little while to ‘get’ DesignMeltDown, I think because its not as immediately visual as some of the other galleries around, but I figured 5000 subscribers couldn’t be wrong, and I was right… about being wrong that is. DMD has a LOT of websites listed but also includes jobs, tutorials and other goodies.
DarkEye is kinda weird at first, but once you get into it, it’s pretty cool. With innovative search tools and a feature where users can make their own galleries and then show them off, it’s certainly different to the typical gallery.
You might be thinking what is iStockPhoto doing in this list, and though perhaps browsing stock photos could be a source of inspiration, rather I’ve included iStock for it’s rather useful Designer Spotlight. The gallery is categorized up into everything from Advertising to Annual Reports, Product Packaging to Television. Some of the design isn’t exactly crash hot, but there’s some good stuff mixed in there and a few of the categories I know of no other place to find examples of.
This is one slick blog/gallery/link hub, built by Canadians with superior design taste, you’ll know you’re getting only top quality filtered goodies.
While DFCKR probably deserves to be in this list in it’s own right, I was actually more interested in this super list of 28 Flickr Photo pools as there is some really great stuff in there.
Can you say gorgeous? Because that’s what you’ll be getting at Phirebrush which these days is getting to be a veritable inspiration institution. With some spectacular digital art that will blow your socks right off, you’ll love Phirebrush.
You know those moments when you see a font and it just makes you want to design something to use it, well with UrbanFonts you can browse a huge collection of free fonts to do just that. While I do enjoy paying for a good font now and then, I just can’t help myself when it’s FREE, FREE, FREE
Literally hundreds of textures freely available - from the dirty to the elegant, there is sure to be a pattern to grace your next design.
I only learnt about Veer recently, but I must say they’re pretty cool and they seem to have been around for ages. The Veer Wallpaper gallery spans five years of designs and includes something for everyone.
Icons that will make your drool. And what’s more, there are pages and pages and pages of them. And if that wasn’t enough, they are free for personal and non-comercial use… Yay!
If your flavour of design happens to be product, then you are going to love MoreInspiration, a site hosting some thousand plus innovative ideas and products.
There’s a lot of CSS galleries around, but screenalicious has to be one of the biggest with almost 9000 websites currently listed if you looked at one every minute that would take you 6 days straight to see them all.
Whether it’s broadcast design, animation, stop motion or any other kind of motion graphics, Feed.Stashmedia lists some of the best
For a whole other kind of design inspiration including products, architecture, clothes and just about any other type of inspiration, the Cool Hunter is a must see.
If you’re into illustrations or characters, then this is the place for you. With some really innovative features like SuperMatch Character War and Moji Mobile, this site just oozes designer cool!
Sometimes the right tool or resource can get your creative juices flowing. At Brusheezy and it’s sister site Vectoreezy you’ll find all sorts of freely downloadable Photoshop and Illustrator brushes and vectors that could just spark off your next uber design.
I’ve been getting into icons lately and have come to realise that there are quite a few cool icon sites around. We featured IconBuffet last time and IconBase is in this list somewhere, well add to that pair IconFactory who have allegedly pushed 60 million pixels - whatever that might mean!
You might be wondering why you would be interested in the stuff that got rejected, but then you might remember that clients aren’t always known for their…taste.
Although this whole series of books was really good, number 9 is my favourite and one I still use to this day for branding and stationery work.
Like the book above, this one is another Rockport classic, a great addition to any collection.
Dos Logos, the sequel to the similarly named Los Logos, is a huge collection of logo designs. It tends more to the funky than the corporate and is packed with iconic inspiration.
I seem to be on a Rockport rampage today, here’s another great title from their catalogue, does pretty much what it says on the tin…
Oodles of gorgeous print work to flip through including some pretty creative ideas as well as a few more average formulas.
I must admit I’ve never done any bag, tag or label design… but if I had, I probably would have needed this book!
I’m not sure who the old masters of poster design were exactly, but I’m sure you’ll love the new ones as much as I do!
You know how they say you have to truly understand a rule before you break it, well Making and Breaking the Grid will help you do just that.
Not so much an inspiration book as an instructional one, this is still a must for any designer struggling with type. Once you master typography you’ll unlock a whole new room of inspirational goodness.
I often find that getting an interesting layout will then lead on to me designing out something great. It’s almost as if you just need a push from somewhere, anywhere, and once you have it, you’re off and running. In any case Rockport’s Layout Workbook is a handy book for doing just that.
I came across this book when we were compiling prizes for the FreelanceSwitch Survey. It’s a set of exercises to get your creativity flowing, perfect for those designer block days.
OK unless you are in the UK this magazine might be a little steep. Over here in Australia I just read them in my local borders because I’m so cheap! But if you can get your hands on them, ComputerArts and its sister magazine ComputerArts Projects (below) are absolutely fantastic.
Where ComputerArts is a general magazine, the Projects editions which run parallel each go into one specific theme in depth with tutorials, profiles, associated software on the discs and so on. Examples of themes include Typography, Illustration, Flash and so on.
Note that it was just so appropriate for this site that I swiped the image on the right from Sam Gilbey’s Site, so go check out his awesome illustrations so he doesn’t get mad at me
How has to be my favourite American magazine, it’s quite practical which I like, sometimes designers can get a little self-involved elsewhere…
Another super well known design magazine from the US, copies of Print unfortunately cost me a fortune over here in Australia
CommArts is a bit of an institution these days, mixing photography, illustration and design, it’s a great read.
I have to confess, I’ve never actually read CMYK, but it had such a gorgeous cover that I had to include it.
A mind map is an awesome tool to think outside the square for a project. It’s a diagram used to represent ideas and words. If you don’t know what this is Wikipedia has a good explanation here. Especially handy for logo and design work, as you can explore more obscure interpretations and representations.
It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you’re stuck ask everyone what they’d do with your brief. This is more effective if they’re not a designer. The more crazy ideas you have in your arsenal, the more likely it is that inspiration will strike.
Search for a quote or creative description that relates to your brief. Use the elements and metaphors you find in it as your inspiration for a concept.
Download a piece of music or album which is totally outside of your usual taste. Listen to it while you fiddle with your first concepts. Try some gregorian chant, tribal or classical music and see how it influences your style.
And That’s It!
So there you go, if that doesn’t unblock your creativity, then it may be time to take a holiday and come back to work next week! As for me, I am completely overstimulated and will now spend a few days staring at a blank wall to come back down to normality.