November 19, 2021
We’ve all been there: Staring at a blank canvas, wondering what sort of Instagram graphic we should create. Or maybe it’s wondering how to design your latest PDF, your kid’s birthday invitation, or your client onboarding assets.
Whatever it is, you’re not sure how to go about the design — and you need some inspiration. Here at the Design Lab, we know a design block when we see it. Here are 3 places to find design inspiration to get those ideas out of your head and into the world.
When we think about design inspiration, we might think of cutting out pictures from magazines or browsing other people’s Instagram feeds. Those are both great places to start, but we think it’s also helpful to focus on a couple of different types of inspiration:
For example, if we’re creating a PDF for a client’s latest opt-in, we are going to look 1.) at photos of people that feel in line with the offer or the topic 2.) other printed materials that show us a layout that helps us share the content in a way that flows.
Combining the two will help you create a more cohesive design, instead of just trying to copy someone else’s (which doesn’t work and it’s not cool!). But where do you find these photos and graphics for inspiration?
Pinterest is basically a vision board of inspiration anyways. Of course, it can also be a total visual cluster, if you don’t know how to parse through all of the content.
To maximize your Pinterest inspiration search, try searching for what you’re specifically trying to design. This might be invitation designs, business card designs, web designs, or prop styling — just search for specifics so you can bring up more qualified results.
If you’re designing a PDF, searching for “web design” or “invitation design” can be (unexpectedly) helpful. You can pull layout inspo from anywhere, but the point is searching for all of these more specific terms is to GET the qualified results to start with and to interpret the results in a way that benefits your project. It also helps to minimize copying when you’re taking inspiration from something unexpected.
Even adding the word “aesthetic” to your search helps a ton! You can also add in the specific color you need help with, to get even closer to your target.
Pro tip: I’ve organized my Pinterest boards by color, and by image type (stationery, web design, editorial design, illustration, etc.), so it’s a good place to start!
Searching through brand feeds on Instagram is a great way to get inspired — notice how we said inspired, not copy? Instagram is great because it’s usually a mix of photo inspiration and graphic design inspiration. It’s also really helpful to see how brands are using their brand colors in photography or in graphics, and how they balance their feeds.
We recommend that you look for:
Use all of that to guide your own graphic design or image selection. Again, without just copying someone else’s feed.
Behance is a portfolio hub for design professionals — aka the people who (hopefully) make a living from their design skills. This is a great place to browse because you can sort portfolio entries by type (illustration, branding, web design, etc.), as well as by color or tools.
There is a lot of great photo inspiration to pull from this site, too, as there are magazine and photo ad layouts you can browse, as well. Just keep in mind that Behance is populated by pros, so be really careful about 1.) your expectations about your skills and 2.) pulling anything as inspiration, not straight-up copying.
Design is NOT art, but when it comes to creating a vibe or brand, turning to art for inspiration is really helpful. After all, they’re both visual practices!
That’s why one of our favorite places to pull design inspo from is actually real art. You can browse through sites like art.com or iamfy.com, if you’d like, or even visit a museum if you prefer to absorb new ideas through experiences.
We’ll also admit: Browsing artwork for inspiration can be tedious — not all art is going to relate to you or speak to the kind of designs you want to create. However, it can also be really helpful because it’s a great place to find unique color palettes, shapes, and visual motifs.
Matisse’s paper cutouts could inspire your brand shapes. Rothko could inspire your color-blocking and layouts. Picasso’s line drawings could influence your illustrations. There’s so much out there to learn from artists, so go explore!
Drawing design inspiration online or even in person is super helpful anytime you’re starting a new project. It’s also a great way to infuse new ideas into a re-brand, or if you’re trying to define your brand for the first time. It’s important to pay attention to what speaks to you, but also what you see your ideal audience or customers sharing and engaging with.
Is there a particular style of graphic they like? Photos they’re drawn to? Posts they share or art they buy? All of this can help inspire you and guide you closer to designs that make a real impact for your business. Oh — and if you’re feeling stuck on that latest design, don’t worry. Take a break, take a breath, and check out our DIY design templates. You can thank us later.
Copyright 2022 Nicole A. Yang, LLC
Our Grant Program
Where Your Money Goes
Email us at
join me on instagram!