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Design: Where to Find Inspiration

Updated: Jun 9

There are drawings of an icon showing a person with gears spinning. These illustrations are on wooden cubes. A hand is turning over one of the blocks to reveal an lightbulb..
Brainstorming ideas to find inspiration.

Image from Shutterstock

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links which are free to you and may provide Viafique LLC with a small commission.

All too often, creativity is seen as being separate from the practical traits often found in certain industries. However, the two are not necessarily independent from one another. In fact, if you are an entrepreneur, the creation of your business is an act of innovation within itself. When it comes to putting the power of your creative self to work in other areas, often the real struggle comes from needing inspiration. The following is a list of places to find original motivations for the design content of your business.

Social Media and Culture

Oscar Wilde stated, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” It is interesting that the first part of this quote is so often shared with the exclusion of the remainder. Does this mean that finding inspiration from other people makes you less than spectacular? Absolutely not! No one is an island, and even that which is extraordinary had to grow out of guidance.

Looking at companies you admire gives insight into aesthetic preferences while also providing the added benefit of helping you establish an overall tone. What if you enjoy distinct design styles and do not know which one to pick? By following your favorite businesses on social media, you gain the added benefit of seeing how customers interact with those brand identities. At this stage in the process, it may be beneficial to be an observer. This allows you to reflect on whether the attraction is also a good cultural fit.

Art and Aesthetics

Design and art are similar in that they are forms of visual communication. However, their use is quite different. Luckily, due to the overlap, the history of art provides unlimited ideas for your design approach. Pastiche is a key characteristic of the postmodern movement, and one which is very applicable within the design world. The idea of pastiche is to take the visual characteristics of an artwork and utilize them as style outside of its original context.

With the influx of exposure to visual language in the digital era, keep in mind that there are associations which will get adopted due to their current uses. For example, if you find you are drawn to Modernism but have a more traditional energy to your company, then there may be a conflict in translation. In a situation such as this, one solution may be to find a set of resources which illustrate your visual preferences along with other images or sources of inspiration which reflect your brand’s persona.

Music and Design

The music industry is also full of inspiration and can provide a great foundation for establishing your company’s identity. Objectively reviewing your most played songs can assist with understanding your genuine voice. Being as customers are continuing to desire authenticity, this is invaluable information. Additionally, if you have eclectic tastes in music, reviewing these may provide a starting point in identifying what makes you unique.

The music industry also provides unlimited visual sources of inspiration. After making a list of your most frequently played songs, review the artwork that accompanies those albums and their promotion. Look at the colors and typography and reflect on the emotions they elicit. If you want to take it one step further, share the artwork on social media such as X (formerly Twitter) or Pinterest and search for similar images. If you live near a record store, browse their collections to see which other styles appear within the same genre.

Shopping and Presentation

Online shopping is convenient; however, walking around retail stores provides design inspiration beyond the scope of purchases. This method of research is easily done during your daily activities. If you sell merchandise, it may be beneficial to go to stores which sell related items. However, do not limit yourself to this strategy as you may be surprised how seemingly unrelated venues can offer unlimited options for your design projects.

Places to visit may include grocery stores, hardware stores, and department stores. Each of these has its own value in that they provide an influx of diverse options. If you need help with packaging, a simple stroll down the grocery store aisle can reveal how certain fonts and compositions will interact with comparable products. When it comes to finding a color palette, hardware stores will allow you the opportunity to collect free samples. Lastly, department stores can give you an idea of effective signage and presentation techniques.


The beginning stages of branding should be fun, so enjoy the process of discovery. If you approach this stage with too much concern for refinement, you may overlook a key element that sets you apart from competitors. After you have gathered your research, connect these sources with your unique value proposition. Do they accentuate what you want to communicate? If you find you are struggling to make a connection, submit a request for guidance. It would be an honor to support you on your creative journey.



Rebecca A. Crecelius, MFA

CEO | Founder | Managing Member | Designer

Rebecca A. Crecelius, MFA is an artist, designer, and business owner. Her creative background is in fine art, and she has a Specialization in Graphic Design from CalArts. In addition, she has post-secondary education in business and certificates in HTML and CSS coding languages. After discovering a passion for logo design and brand development, she founded Viafique LLC. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge with aspiring business owners and enthusiastic entrepreneurs.


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