Need Some Fresh Ideas?
One of the first things I do in any city I go to is find the closest museum and check it out. I prefer art museums, but any kind will do. Any decent museum will have something in it you haven’t thought of before. Something new to think about. The best ideas comes from seeing or learning something new that somehow triggers and connects with more than one of your stored memories. Museums are also predominantly quiet and calm and great places for avoiding distraction and getting some good thinking time. The problem here is that you need to be in a larger city to have multiple museums to explore. When not traveling and back home in my little city, I do the same thing with libraries. I just wander and scan shelves until something catches my eye. Of course, I bring a sketchbook and some pencils.
The best path to inspiration is a quiet moment to just explore your own thoughts. Our memories and imaginations can create anything we need if we give them some time to get lost in themselves. Stream of conscience drawing or scribbling is a good compliment to the quiet meditation. You’ll always be more satisfied with an idea that originated in your own mind without outside visual help. But, if thinking quietly doesn’t cut it, there is always the internet.
Need Some Stuff to Look at?
There are countless resources for designers online. The web is full of places where designers can show off their work and others can be inspired by it. Here is a list to get you started-
- Designspiration- This is probably one of my favorite places to see what is happening in the world of design. Lots of fresh innovative work that is sure to get your creative juices flowing. This is a great one to check out on your phone when trying to pass time. I visit this site every few days.
- Google Images- Sounds obvious, but it’s the visual resource I go to first and use the most. If you want to draw a tiger, google it and instantly get every angle of version of tiger you could ever need. It’s always best to go a few pages into whatever you searched, because you know the last person probably stopped at the first page.
- freepik, vecteezy, vectorstock, free vector- these are all pretty much the same and have mostly the same images. They can be useful, but honestly, just learn to use illustrator and make your own vectors. Taking little details and altering them or incorporating them into something original is fine, and it might save you some time, but it seems wrong. Maybe just look to get an idea, then go make your own vectors.
- WikiArt- This is by far my favorite site. It’s just a random assortment of artworks. Fine, modern, contemporary, pop, classical, you name it. It’s just a big ‘ole pile of paintings. The front page (or home on the app, go get this app!) is a selection of famous pieces of art that have some kind of connection. One day it will be “today in art history”, the next day it will be “musicians with hats”. It’s a great way to think about all the different styles and possibilities. It’s definitely not about seeing current trends, it’s more about a timelessness that leads to creating the next trend.
- Behance– This is where Adobe users share their creations. There is tons of great design work on this site, and if you have an AdobeCC account, then you can share your work here as well.
What’s the Web Doing?
Where do you go to see the newest happenings in the wide world of websites? Here are some pages that catalog the good stuff along with some places to grab snippets of code to add to whatever you might be trying to put together.
- Webby Awards- It takes a little digging to find actual sites (the site could be designed better, which seems kinda weird, I mean, they do give awards to great designers, so you think they could find a good designer). But, this is where you go to see what the cutting edge of web design is doing. They don’t win awards for being lame.
- awwwards– Same thing as the last description. Awards for websites.
- W3C– The World Wide Web Consortium is not a pretty site, but it does have a lot of info about things to come. This is the collective group that decides what the standards of the web will be. It’s a page you go to for reading about what is going on in html and css. I like to check it out every month or so and see if there is a new article.
- TheNextWeb– This is basically a blog or news page about trends. It’s a good site for learning about new innovations and has a lot of great articles. It has a bit of a “how-to” component.
- Tech Crunch- Tech news. You need to know more than your client does. Stay on top of it, ’nuff said.
- codepen– This is where you find snippets of code and instructions on how to use them. There is a plethora of useful information here. I use this one at least once a month. Even if you don’t use the code, you can see how others are using it. Big time saver.
Wanna Learn Something?
Everything that is being taught in any school is posted online. There is no need to shell out a big tuition to learn about design or coding. It’s already out there, and in a lot of places for free.
- youtube– Everything you ever needed to learn is being explained in a video on youtube. You may have to watch a few before you find what works for you, but if you do find somebody making videos that you can follow and work well for you, follow them or remember the name. Youtube has tutorials for everything from coding websites to making paper or how to bowl.
- Code Academy– Need to learn Python? Ruby on rails? How to make an app in Swift? This is the place. It’s all free, and incredibly easier to understand. This is a great resource for teaching code to children as well. Don’t sleep, go learn how to write code or scripts. This site is just wonderful.
- M.I.T. OpenCourse– Want to learn from the best? Would you like to attend M.I.T. classes but don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars, high S.A.T. scores, or live in Massachusetts? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology just gives it away for free online. This stuff is a bit advanced, but if you breezed through Code Academy already, then you will love this site. Lectures, lesson plans, class work, projects and more are open to the public and right there at your fingertips.
- Lynda.com– This one isn’t free, but if you attend college you may have a free login already. All the info on this site can be found elsewhere for free, but this is a great platform to utilize if you have access to it. The videos are high quality, and the tutorials are pretty easy to follow. This is a great tool for design and coding.
The most important thing you need to learn is how to correctly search for the thing you need to learn. It’s all out there, whether you need a lesson, a definition, or just some inspiration. The internet gives us a massive toolbox that is overflowing with information. Dig it up and put it to use.