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Be Inspired: 3 Awesome Resources to Kickstart Your Creativity

By December 19, 2013Creativity

There’s an endless list of websites, apps, and blogs that you can find to aid your creative process. With the number of resources out there, the problem isn’t finding sources for inspiration, it’s figuring out which ones you’re going to use.

I’ve found that there are three specific resources I reference for all of my creative projects here at Mack Web . More importantly, I figured out why these are the resources I favor.

Each one addresses one of the specific challenges I face in my role here as a graphic designer:

1) I need to learn new skills from professionals in my industry.

2) I don’t have time to scour the internet for creative and inspiring things. I want an easy way of finding a bunch of creative sources in one place.

3) When I start creating I want my reference materials on one page, so I spend more time creating and less time looking for them.

Now, the resources I’m sharing have been  around for a while so you’ve probably heard of them already. I simply want you to know how I use them and the challenge each resource solves for me, with the hope that you will find them just as useful to your creative process. Let’s get started!


Challenge # 1

I need to learn new skills from professionals in my industry.

The Solution: Skillshare

The Details:
Skillshare provides classes for a multitude of subjects (advertising, business, design, etc.,). Wanna know the best part? Classes are taught by professionals in the industry, allowing you to access their processes, technical tips & tricks, and golden nuggets of wisdom in one class.

Yes, you do have to pay, but it’s on a per class basis (I’ve found that it’s never more then $25 per class), and it’s worth it. The skills I’ve gained from each class have  more than justified the cost. For example, I’ve always admired the work of letterer and illustrator Jessica Hische (she’s done work for Wes Anderson, Tiffany & Co., and Penguin Books). Lo and behold she’s on Skillshare. As a designer, I’m going to jump at the chance to take a class taught by a leading letterer and illustrator in the industry, no question about it.

How I Use it:
As a designer, the classes on Skillshare keep my design skills current, and introduce me to new techniques I can use in Photoshop and Illustrator.

For example, earlier this year I took a character illustration class taught by illustrator Matt Kaufenberg (Character Illustration: From Concept to Final Artwork). Upon completing the class, I promptly put my newly acquired skills into practice and set out to illustrate a few awesome characters for a client:

thief

nerdy-guy

I also improved my digital illustration skills thanks to Sara Blake’s class, Creating Full Color Digital Illustrations From Your Hand-Made Drawings. I ended up using the techniques in this class for a school art project and had so much fun, I’m planning on making more:

cat

How You Could Use it:
Use it to get your feet wet! Learn something new or glean tips from a professional in your industry (or in an industry you’re unfamiliar with). While I use Skillshare to sharpen my design skills, you certainly don’t have to be a designer to use it. If you are in any way creative, or just want to learn something new, I’d recommend giving it a try.

Some of their other classes include:

If you really want to get an idea of the breadth of classes they offer, I’d suggest looking at their list of classes.


Challenge # 2

I don’t have time to scour the internet for creative and inspiring things. I want an easy way of finding a bunch of creative sources in one place.

The Solution: Flipboard

The Details:
Flipboard is an application that you can use to read and collect the topics that most interest you. You can create collections for music, photography, design, health, history, DIY, and more. The application is flexible enough to allow you to save everything from articles and photos to audio and video. Even better, Flipboard is free. You just have to download it  to your device ( it should work for iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, and NOOK).

How I Use it:
I search Flipboard to find design inspiration. The beauty of the application is that you can easily bookmark all your creative findings into magazines that you can access later. Flipboard is where I go when I need to brainstorm or think of design approaches that fall outside of my normal design style.

At the moment, the work of Caras Ionut, which I discovered on Flipboard, is turning out to be a consistent source of inspiration. I find myself going back to his work quite often because it’s amazing and inspires me to keep working on my own artistic endeavors.

Caras Ionut Art

How You Could Use it:
Find innovative ideas to jumpstart your own “big idea”, keep-up-to date on news in your industry, or use it like I do: find areas where you need constant inspiration and create collections to refer to for new ideas and techniques.


Challenge # 3

When I start creating I want my reference materials on one page, so I spend more time creating and less time looking for them.

The Solution: Pinterest

The Details:
I’m sure everyone is familiar with Pinterest at this point. If you’re not, Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that acts much like an idea board, allowing you to pin images and sort them into particular boards.

How I Use it:
I like to collect images on Pinterest, and use them as reference materials for design projects. Before I found Pinterest, I did things the old school way – spending lots of time searching for images on the internet, and then pasting them into my own idea board (i.e. a Word doc). Pinterest easily cuts my research time in half.

Whenever Mack asks me to put together a slide deck for one of her speaking gigs, I go to Pinterest and create a collection of graphics to reference while I make her slide deck.

For example, for this slide deck:

slide deck

slide deck 2

I was collecting and referencing images like the ones below on Pinterest:

pinterest board

How You Could Use it:
I use Pinterest as a reference for all my creative projects (graphic design, painting, drawing etc.), however, if you’re not a designer, I think the possibilities are still endless. Maybe you want to build your own longboard, find New Year’s Eve party ideas, or do some llama farming (seriously, Pinterest has quite a collection when it comes to this last one).

Whatever your interest may be, my bet is you’ll be able to find some fantastic reference materials on Pinterest.


What’s in Your Creative Toolbelt?

This list is simply the core tools that I’ve selected for my “creative tool belt”, but creative processes come in many shapes and sizes. Let us know what websites, apps, and online tools you use to jumpstart your creative process in the comments section below.

Author Nat Touchberry

More posts by Nat Touchberry

Join the discussion 6 Comments

  • Dan Seese says:

    Nice article, Natalie. It’s always helpful to be reminded of the many resources available to enable us to stretch & grow – especially when we’re in a rut.

    And terrific illustration!

    • Natalie Touchberry says:

      Thanks Dan! Yeah, as an artist I always love finding new resources. They tend to take my artistic endeavors in a whole new direction. Glad you liked the post!

  • Hey Natalie, What a great group of resources. After reading your post I signed up for Jessica’s and Sara’s classes on Skillshare. Thanks for the tip !!

    • Natalie Touchberry says:

      Thanks KathyAnne, you’ll have to let me know what you think after you take the classes. I learned a lot from their creative processes!

  • D AMIES says:

    Well, I must say the post is very much special and unique helping people know and find so many resources. There are so many artists looking for effective resources who will like this post. Thanks for sharing

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