Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

Inspiration from Others

At the start of a creative project we often have a vague idea what we want to do, but don’t really know where to go from there. Which leads to the question: how do we stimulate ideas? Often our best ideas come from our interaction with the world around us.

Creativity Quotes
Creativity often consists of merely turning up what is already there. Did you know that right and left shoes were thought up only a little more than a century ago? Bernice Fitz-Gibbon 

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun – Mary Lou Cook 

Inspiration from others
Once we’ve set a direction for a project, the next step – working out what exactly it is we want to do – can be very daunting. At this point we usually can’t think much beyond the ‘standard’ functionality and form – a website looks like this, a short story is composed of that. So how do we generate our own ideas and get to the unique solution that only we are able to create?  

Part of any creative project is study and research. This allows us to differentiate, to know by contrast what our own vision is. Exposing ourselves to the variety of techniques, processes and aesthetics that others have used, sharpens our own focus, clarifying our particular needs and wants. 

Compare & Contrast
It helps to have some kind of design idea in mind to start off with; try to define at least one aspect you want to achieve – it may be a particular set of system criteria, or a basic character development. 

Then, go out on a focused Look and Learn mission:

  • Internet sites and libraries are always good starting points
  • Attend expos and events in any field that interests you
  • Dip into ideas from other countries and cultures
  • Specialist shops are a rich source of inspiration
  • Investigate procedures and innovations outside your field

Bear in mind that inspiration doesn’t only lie in the aesthetics of an item – often tiny technical details can completely shift the way we’ve been thinking. As part of your looking, make a mental note of how different forms and functions address different needs. You don’t need to get too detailed here, but do make a note of things that really appeal to you. And then head back to your drawing board. What did you see that inspired you? What didn’t work, and why? Was there anything you thought you could improve? 

Once you’ve garnered a wealth of new perspectives, applying them to your own set of requirements has the effect of an automatic idea-generating exercise. The only thing now is to avoid limiting yourself upfront. List as many possible approaches and different combinations as you can before trying to narrow them down to a final design. 

Wishing you an exciting process of discovery and design.