19 Feb

Inspiration: it’s still possible

Experienced designer and all-round good bloke Raymond Patmore posted about finding inspiration, earlier today.
It got me thinking.

For a designer, inspiration is essential. It’s impossible to come up with good design, strong branding, eye-catching campaigns, without being inspired by something; an artistic movement, the opening titles of a film, a piece of music.

Similarly, for a copywriter, inspiration has to come from somewhere. The right words for a script, a DM piece, engaging content don’t just come out of thin air.

I know I’ve struggled recently, to write things on here and in general, because our usual sources of inspiration have all but dried up.
I’d kill to go to a gallery again, wander round a museum, see a gig, go to a play – to fill my head with stuff. But I can’t do that. None of us can.

So, in this most testing of times, how on earth are we supposed to find inspiration, or rather, where do we find it?
Here are a few suggestions, in no particular order:

  • Apps like Calm and Breethe are worth a look. Mindfulness is all anyone ever seems to bang on about, but it sometimes works. These apps help you with meditation, playlists, and stories to get you to sleep (read by people like Matthew McConaughey and Stephen Fry). With your mind blissed out, you’ll suddenly find you’re open to some smooth lateral thinking… unless you’ve fallen asleep.
  • Jigsaws – same basic principle as the apps; takes your mind off of things. Frees up brain space. While you’re busy looking for those damn corner and edge pieces, your mind can drift off to other places.
  • Go for a walk… but a proper walk. Go to some nearby woods or a field. Go where it’s muddy – where you’ll struggle. Make it a challenge. You’ll come back out of breath, exhilarated and full of ideas.
  • Find water. Anywhere where there’s the sight and sound of water makes you stop and think. It could be a tiny stream or the Thames. Try to find some and sit near it for a bit. It’ll open up your thinking.
  • Paint. Acrylics, water, oils – it doesn’t matter: get messy. Not sure what to paint? Google ‘wallpaper patterns’, ‘wildlife’, or something like ‘cypress trees painting’. You’ll feel all arty and creative once you’re done.
  • Learn something new. I’ve learnt how to crochet in lockdown. No idea what I’ll use it for, but it whiles away the hours and has me mulling over other things – including briefs I may be working on.
  • Hop on to Twitter and have a go at a One Minute Brief – simple tasks where you have to come up with as many creative answers in one minute to e.g ‘advertise cheese’ or ‘sell tortoises’. These answers can be visual, written, or a mixture of both. There are sometimes over 300 entries from different people. It’s good to look at other peoples’ answers and draw inspiration from them, plus it’s a very supportive community, all looking out for each other.
  • Test yourself online with quizzes like this – trying to guess/remember every country in the world when faced with a blank map. It’ll keep your grey matter from shrivelling to nothing.
  • Interview your grandparents or your parents (depending on who’s around/alive). Ask them about their life, how things were different when they were younger etc.
    You’re bound to draw some inspiration from there.
  • Exercise in your pants. Why not? Who’s going to see you? It’s funny. It’s liberating. And when you’re done, you’ll be full of ideas – endorphins and all that.
  • The obvious one: binge on series after series. I still have Fauda, Glue, White Lines, Marcella on my ‘what next?’ list. Not only that, I’ve never seen The Sopranos, Peaky Blinders, Breaking Bad, or Boardwalk Empire… I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Watching all of this should fill my head with ideas though, or things that can be ‘borrowed’.
  • Cook and just make things up. Instead of stock, I threw beer into my beef chilli this week (I know, I’m a maverick). Worked a treat.


And that’s it. I’m done. Fresh out of ideas.

It’s harder to find inspiration at the moment, but it’s there, if we look for it – we just have to search that little bit harder.
Happy hunting.


Screenshot 2021-02-19 at 17.36.05

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