Staying inspired while stuck at your desk

Paul Boag

Stuck behind a desk? Lacking inspiration? Have a boss who doesn’t get creatives? Then perhaps Flickr holds the answer.

One of the hardest things about being a designer is staying inspired. The longer you work as a designer, the greater the chance your design work all ends up looking the same. You end up just regurgitating old ideas.

The answer to this is to constantly feed yourself with new sources of inspiration. However, this inspiration needs to come from places other than other web designers. If you rely solely on web design galleries and “cool sites” posts your work will ultimately suffer and you will be in danger of plagiarising.

Web Design Gallery
We cannot just rely on Web Design galleries for our inspiration

Looking beyond websites for inspiration

Many well known designers encourage us to get out from behind our desks and explore the world around us. Visit art galleries, look to nature, notice architecture etc.

Our everyday lives are also full of inspiration. The keyboard upon which I type this, the .net magazine award on my desk, the view out of my window. However, ultimately our immediate worlds can be restrictive and we need to broaden our horizons.

I am coming to believe that Flickr could hold the answer.

Could flickr be the answer?

Flickr has had a bit of a revival recently. The combination of the privacy issues surrounding instagram and the release of Flickrs amazing mobile app, has reignited interest in this long loved website.

At first glance it would be easy to dismiss Flickr as not much more than a glorified instagram; a place to put photos online for sharing with friends and family. In fact, it is much more.

Interesting photos on flickr

One feature that is particularly good for us web designers and will help keep our creative juices flowing is the interesting tab of their mobile app. This contains some of the most amazing and beautiful photography you have ever seen. Amazing landscapes, stunning architectures, beautiful colour palettes and lots, lots more.

Flickr Interesting tab on iOS app
Flickr contains some of the most amazing and beautiful photography you have ever seen.

However, although this is interesting the relevancy for us as web designers can be a bit hit and miss. Probably a more powerful tool are the Flickr Groups.

The power of flickr groups

There are Flickr groups for everything including UI design, grids, typography and more. These groups are full of photos and screenshots that are perfect inspiration for web designers. However, groups like this are just the start.

Typographic decay
Flickr are full of images like this one by Junkstock that can inspire your designs.

There are also groups on pop art, lines, toys, movie posters and every obscure thing you could imagine. Although not as directly associated with web design they are an invaluable source of inspiration. They help to broaden your mind, see beauty in surprising places and inform the next project you work on.

Less is more flickr group
One of my favourite groups is “less is more.”

I also found that these groups helped me to see inspiration around me. After subscribing to a rural decay group, I found myself looking at rotting wood, rusting metal and dilapidated barns as a source of inspiration and beauty. I started photographing these things and adding them to my Evernote inspiration library.

Building an inspiration library

Don’t wait until your next project before looking at Flickr groups. Do it now. Start browsing these groups daily and favouriting stuff that grabs your attention. Then when your next project kicks off, you already have a massive repository of inspiration waiting for you.

So what are you waiting for, get inspired.