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December 5, 2013 / becca shayne

everything I know (on the internet)

books

I’ve been working on a thought leadership post at work to empower my coworkers to be inspired about design without my help. I wanted to create a resource center so they could get pumped or find inspiration on their own. A lot of times, at the beginning of a project, I do a visual inspiration hunt to find examples of what I’m thinking about so that I can show them what direction I’m headed. I think it makes it easier for them to grok what I’m thinking about if I can physically show them something, as opposed to designing it.

I also use my sketchbook a lot. Read the article I wrote about starting on paper.

Another thing about designing for a marketing team is that there will always be edits, copy changes, last minute tweaks, and then translating everything into 11 languages, so other members of the team need to be able to make those changes. I can’t be a bottleneck for everything we plan to send to press just because I designed it in InDesign, and they need to change a data point at 6am but no one can reach me.

To solve this problem, our team (just Albert and I, really) has adopted the “teach them to fish” method. One approach is teaching a few members of the marketing team some basics in Photoshop and Illustrator. The other thing, which has been the most challenging for me, is using Powerpoint or Keynote to design documents that I’d ordinarily create in InDesign. Tough, I know, trying to make Microsoft as beautiful as Adobe. But it’s been a valuable lesson in being a creative designer no matter the tools I use.

One of the most important lessons my professor, Doug Scott, taught me was to look everywhere for inspiration, not just in the category of your project. To paraphrase, “If you look at all the graphic designers who have made things, you’ll never feel like you can come up with anything new, because someone has already made it. To truly find inspiration, look at the photographers and the poets and the painters and sculptors and chefs and craftsmen. That’s where you’ll discover something new that you can make your own.”

I don’t just look at graphic design sites when I’m looking for inspiration on a new project. Sometimes I find something really valuable in an unconventional place. I might really enjoy the texture of something I found in a photograph, which could lead me to use a different grid in the web page I was designing. You never know. Also, I have a huge library of design books at home (only one shelf of which is pictured above).

This post is a massive, ever fluctuating list of places I go to look for inspiration. I chose to mostly include group sites or blogs, and leave off individual designers or design firms that I admire. I have a very long list of them though, so please ask me if you want to know a few. The sites are organized by category, but there is no hierarchy within the lists, the order is arbitrary and unbiased (well, my commentary is biased). Also, nothing beats discussion and conversation with other designers and thinkers/makers.

Happy looking! I know this post was long overdue.

10_cdg3

General Design

Designspiration community curated collection of all types of design. Useful, if you know what you’re looking for. search by tags. useful for information design.

Design Defined curated list of graphic design. usually print. good for information design. not everything on here is good design, but it usually is.

subtraction Design and technology. usually written posts.

Taxi all sorts of design.

swiss miss general design blog by Tina Roth Eisenberg, who also runs Creative Mornings and Tattly

Behance a portfolio site, but also a good place to hunt for inspiration.

reading

Reading for Designers

Fastco Design Fast Company’s design blog

Dieter Rams’ 10 Principles for Good Design

Design Observer articles and design criticism. thought leadership

Dezeen Architecture, furniture, design, high end online magazine, design thinking and thought leadership

A List Apart Responsive Web Design

Medium used to be invitation only, now open to the public. some articles are good. run by one of the founders of Twitter

Designers & Books resource for books and news on design community

News from Designer News Bot Design/Tech news + links

AIGA great articles from the AIGA community (American Institute of Graphic Arts)

sassy essay about Comic Sans

How To Steal Like an Artist excellent, short book about design, thinking, and writing.

TED this isn’t reading, but it’s an essential tool in a designer’s research arsenal

The Dao of Web Design article about RWD and design thinking for web

Why our worst-selling item is my favorite article about the Warby Parker Monocle. very good read.

Product Design quotes collection

Using Type useful and interesting blog posts from Fontshop Type Foundry

punset-1-785x490

Information Design & Data Visualization

Visual Complexity complex, data driven graphics, lofty thought.

Visually text and imagery describing data points, what you would call “infographics” even though designers tend to avoid that terminology. there are some great examples here.

Infosthetics another source for complex, data driven graphics, usually computer generated.

I Love Charts this is more just for fun.

Strange Maps mapping information

We Love Infographics some of these are good examples. there’s usually cool stuff here.

Feltron Nicholas Felton’s blog (famous information designer, RISD grad, formerly head of Facebook design)

RWD

Web and Digital

Awwwards curated and voted list of award winning websites

From Up North web design inspiration

Captivate application and interaction design

Dribbble take it with a grain of salt. everything starts to look the same after a while. be wary of trends.

Smashing Magazine excellent resources and articles

A List Apart Responsive Web Design

RWD article specifically about RWD

A Book Apart excellent books from the same crew as A List Apart on web and mobile design

Little Big Details not exactly design, but great resource for fun, interesting details in digital spaces

Worst Portfolio Ever satirical example of a portfolio website.

WOD Taxi’s website of the day list.

Squarespace build a website

Cargo Collective build a portfolio

How not to suck online fun read, valid points.

you

Typography, Identity and Logo design, Print

Fonts In Use real world examples of specific typefaces on branded things.

Logo Design Love curated list by David Airey, commentary on identity design

Identity Designed another David Airey identity blog.

Lovely Stationery, counterpart to Lovely Package. though this is a stationery/print design site, it’s a great resource for logos and identities.

September Industry wide variety of print design and typography

For Print Only great resource for examples of high quality printed design.

Swissted Swiss posters, or swiss-inspired posters

Typographische Monatsblätter archive of posters and book covers designed by famous swiss designers in the 60s etc.

Type Token typography showcase and reviews

Type Everything kind of trendy but sometimes useful examples of typography.

Typographic Posters excellent resource of poster design: unusual use of negative space, typography, photography

Aisle One blog for minimalist and swiss design and technology

book cover archive pretty much every book cover that was every (well) designed

Design is History historical archive of excellent design (mostly print)

Gridness praise to the grid

Type Connection fun little game to learn how to pair typefaces

Typographunnies stupid typographical jokes that you have to be a nerd to find funny. mostly groaners

Your Logo Makes Me Barf perfect examples of what NOT to do. terrible logos that will make you laugh (or cry)

Sharpsuits excellent posters of stupid things designers often hear from clients

mandala-2

Art, design, photography, physical spaces

Colossal a great site for visual inspiration, not specific design, more interesting projects and approaches, and extraordinary visuals

Design Envy AIGA-run design blog and though leadership / critique / discussion

Collate wide variety of visual inspiration.

Void a good place if you need to get lost in the internet and find unexpected inspiration.

Street Art Utopia street art from around the world

But it does float another place to get lost in the internet

The Useless Web speaking of getting lost. purely for entertainment. get ready to waste time

eames

Physical Objects, Packaging, Architecture, Furniture

Dezeen (again, because it’s imagery as well as articles) Architecture, furniture, design, high end online magazine, design thinking and thought leadership.

Lovely Package excellent resource for beautiful package design

The Dieline package design

Oh Beautiful Beer excellent package design site devoted specifically to beer. everybody likes beer.

Packaging of the World international package design

Better Living Through Design (BLTD) Fun site for furniture and three dimensional spaces / objects

Design Vagabond similar to BLTD, some girl’s blog of cool design stuff

Minimalissimo curated list of minimalist objects, furniture, print, fashion, photography, art, etc.

Tattly just for fun: designery temporary tattoos.

Book Worship a personal collection of books, designed between 1950-70

Notcot blog of designy things

Apartment Therapy fun place to go for spatial inspiration. my favorite section is home offices / desks

Uncrate maybe doesn’t belong on this list, but still a fun place to look at tech and design objects.

brainrental

Illustrators

Zegma group site for illustrators

cheeming boey

chris piascik

christoph niemann

Brainrental Kevil LCK

Oliver Jeffers

typographica03

Resources

alpha color photoshop lesson

David Airey’s list of typefaces

subtle patterns for backgrounds of things (use with discretion)

Typedia an encyclopedia of typefaces

Design Magazines and Publications full list

Best Typographical Advice you’ll ever receive

taxi

Stock Photography (ish) and other resources

mac pix pictures people took of their apple products

Unsplash interesting pictures of stuff

500px better stock photography (terrible search engine though)

Place It device shells with backgrounds

Stocksy somewhat useful stock photography site


Well, that’s it. I’m sure I’ve forgotten at least a few sites. If you have sites you love to look at for inspiration, please share them! I’m always interested to learn about new things. I hope this has been a helpful resource for you.

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