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Demystifying Inspiration: Four Ways to Spark Creativity

This article was sponsored by our friends at noissue who offer custom, sustainable packaging options for makers, brands, and businesses.

Inspiration fuels creativity. So, Creatives are naturally walking around in a nirvanic state of inspiration at all times, right?

Not quite. Inspiration ebbs and flows, and so it must be actively sought after and cultivated. As most creatives can attest, the pursuit of enthusiasm is ongoing, and requires the seeker to regularly expand the quest. While the internet provides us with an abundance of such inspiration, it can also become overwhelming or lead to harsh comparisons over work.

How, then, can creative people stay energized and invigorated to deliver unique, show-stopping work? We tapped four members of the noissue Creative Community to share their insights on just that.

They shared these amazing tips:

  • 1. Look to the classics
  • 2. Create for creation’s sake
  • 3. Seek new perspective
  • 4. Activate your senses
Pattern design on noissue Tissue by @jeninuferu print design logo branding packaging design graphic design illustration

Pattern design on noissue Tissue by @jeninuferu

by noissue

Bold print design by llustrator and print designer Jennifer Bouron, based in France. Jennifer developed her freelance business, and is known for her bold patterns, contemporary portraits, fashionable illustrations and striking colour choices.

View on Dribbble

1. Look to the classics

Letterer and brand designer, Eva Couto
, looks to old-school printing techniques and Victionary’s books. She is passionate about spending time studying the masters, rather than turning to Pinterest or other modern-day sources, saying:

“While I’m convinced that no work is 100% original or unique, you can aim to draw inspiration from less-studied sources to produce ideas that don’t feel recycled.”


Eva Couto at work
Eva Couto at work


As Eva explains, landing on your signature style requires a discovery process, and experimentation is a must! She is constantly trying different methods, tools, and processes inspired by her studies of the classics, saying:

“Don’t be scared to diversify away from what you thought you liked. It’s the only way you can be sure of what lights you up and what truly doesn’t speak to you.”

Another fan of distinguished artists, illustrator and Creative Community member Petra Holíková
 often looks to the past to keep the ideas flowing. One look at her rich, botanical-infused pieces and we can see why!

“My main sources of inspiration are nature and animals. I also like visiting museums and exploring The Old Masters. When I was in Louvre a couple of years ago I felt like a kid in a candy shop!”


By Petra Holíková
By Petra Holíková


Give it a try

As restrictions often help one focus in on an idea, ditch the screen and limit yourself to one pen and one piece of paper. Fill the entire page with sketches, no matter how imperfect, and you might just find that a new idea emerges!


2. Create for creation’s sake

While being busy is often a source of gratitude for creatives, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of client work, only coming up for air from time to time. Losing sense of your personal style or the opportunity for experimentation can lead to burnout or feelings of creative frustration—we’ve all been there!

To keep things fresh, remember to build into your schedule those moments of freestyle expression. After all, isn’t creating for the love of it what got you started in the first place?

As with any muscle, our imaginations must be stretched and given the chance to expand and evolve. A surefire way to revive a stagnant art practice is to make something for the hell of it.

If you need a little push, noissue’s Creative Community holds a monthly design challenge (#noissuechallenge) devised to motivate creators to express an idea around a central theme. Along with some sweet features and prizes, this challenge is all about empowering designers to make something fun, stretch their skills, and expand their way of working!

Give it a try

Step outside of your comfort zone with a new color palette or shape that you don’t typically gravitate towards. Design a logo for a business you wish existed, play around with paper collage like you did in elementary school (no eating the paste, please), or make some brushstrokes with your eyes closed. The options are endless!

Even if you’re not madly in love with what you created, chances are it gave you a boost of refreshed energy and, hopefully, sparked a new way of thinking.


April’s Creative Community Design Challenge Winner @amapolaaz
April’s Creative Community Design Challenge Winner @amapolaaz


3. Seek new perspective

Giada Tamborrino
, owner of a branding and packaging design studio, suggests observing the world around you, rather than perusing the portfolios of others. To her, creating memorable work is achieved only if the creator is able to offer a unique experience. Here’s what she suggests:

“Observe the world around you: it’s full of inspiration! If you want to get unique ideas, seek inspiration from unexpected places.”

Giada unlocked her own inspired potential by moving to London, where she rubbed shoulders with incredible creatives, and broadened her perspective while doing freelance jobs in the underground music scene.


Giada Tamborrino
Giada Tamborrino


Give it a try

If you’re able, take a walk around the neighborhood with the intent of focusing on one particular thing. Notice all the pops of yellow that you see along the way, or see what kind of animals cross your path. If indoors, hone in on the repetitive shapes you see in your home, or the colors found up close in the leaves of your houseplants.

Focusing on one, specific thing can help to turn our everyday environment on its head and allow you to notice things a bit differently.


4. Activate every sense

Jess Moorhouse
, illustrator and surface pattern designer, shares:

“I’m most creative on an evening, I’ve soaked in the day, seen and smelt sights that trigger my imagination.”

As many of us navigate creativity visually, it may seem like the obvious place to start when encountering an artistic blocker. If you’re feeling stuck on a project and it’s just not looking right, try to change your perspective—literally. Get right up close, into all those details, before stepping back and viewing your piece from a greater distance. Sometimes this visual shift is what’s needed to jumpstart a new idea or workaround.

Still waiting for inspiration to strike? Try to play around with a scent memory. Science has shown us that our olfactory sense, that of smell, is powerfully linked to memory. Whether your creative practice is tactile or more digital, triggering a memory with a familiar fragrance can help to kickstart your brain and transport you back to a specific time and place.

Fun fact—one of the largest proponents of the art of smells is Norweigan artist Sissel Tolaas who has cataloged over 7,000 odors in her 30-year long career! Anyone care to take a whiff of New York?

No matter your creative medium, there are endless opportunities to engage the senses in your everyday practice. In the pursuit of uniqueness in her illustrations, for example, Jess Moorehouse regularly seeks a change of scenery and subjects, stating:

“I can work in different environments which definitely helps my mental health—sitting in the same spot all day long can really drain you after time. It sounds odd but people-watching is another source of inspiration! You can come by so many different personalities and quirks which help to inspire my characters.”

Give it a try

Instead of staying in a familiar framework, keep things interesting and transform your mindset with a shift. No matter how small, change is always guaranteed to upend stagnancy and further one’s progress. ■


noissue A global collective, the noissue Creative Community exists to support Creatives and tell their stories. Members receive monthly free mockup bundles, as well as access to monthly design challenges, and bespoke products. Offering custom, sustainable products like tissue, stickers, and tote bags, noissue should be in every Creative’s toolkit. Join the Community and get inspired today!

Find more Inspiration stories on our blog Courtside. Have a suggestion? Contact stories@dribbble.com.


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