Are you in the process of creating a visual identity for your nonprofit? Whether your organization is brand spanking new or you are overhauling your identity, you might be struggling to come up with ideas. This isn’t unusual. As a designer, I use various resources for inspiration, which, more often than not, can help me come up with fresh ideas. I want to share some resources that help me when I struggle with creative block.
A lot of the time, icon creation can be pretty obvious. For example, a “contact us” icon can be a phone or a talk bubble. But what if you need an icon for an abstract concept? These can often be tedious and difficult to visualize. https://thenounproject.com/ is an excellent starting point for this exact scenario. This website houses a database of icons, which can be searched using key terms. Based on your keyword, The Noun Project will show you icons that may fit your project. This isn’t an exact science, but it’s a starting point and can get you thinking about other ideas. Remember to simplify your search so that you get more results (one or two word searches are best).
There are lots of websites dedicated to “website” inspiration. These are two sites that I constantly use. Both of these sites allow users to filter, but in different ways.
http://www.siteinspire.com/ allows users to sort through approximately 5,000 websites by style, type, and subject matter, giving you the most precise results. You won’t find ugly and terribly designed sites here, as siteinspire.com picks the best and cleanest sites from the hundreds of site submissions received daily.
http://www.awwwards.com/ features the best of the best from around the world. These visually stunning, award-winning websites are searchable using filters, just like siteinspire.com. Search by category, tag, color, and country.
General Visual Inspiration
All three of these websites are great tools for visual inspiration and are easy to use. Although they are similar, they don’t contain the same content and I believe one can never have “too much” inspiration.
http://designspiration.net/ is a simple site used to search for visual inspiration and is one of the first sites that I started using religiously in college. Type in what your search is and it filters out results. Examples of simple search terms I’ve used: typography, poster, modern, paper cut, etc. There are no categories, search results are based on what you type in the search bar. It’s a clean, easy to use interface and all of the work on the site is beautiful. You can’t go wrong with this site.
Communication Arts (http://www.commarts.com/) is a publication and a website that features “the best in visual communications from around the world.” Each year, Communication Arts offers artists the opportunity to submit their work to the magazine for consideration and awards are given out. There are 6 issues annually: Design, Advertising, Illustration, Photography, Interactive, and Typography. It was recommended to me in college; I have continued my subscription and highly recommend it. Not only is it filled with great visual inspiration, but it’s a pretty substantial magazine at around 200 pages per issue. I’ve noticed that creative agencies tend to have this magazine on their bookshelf. The website is also useful as it offers a gallery of images, which can be searched by discipline, category, industry, and by year of awards received.
https://dribbble.com/ has been described as visual social media. Members of this site, designers and other creatives, post their own artwork on the site. Basic membership to the site is free. Admittedly, I haven’t fully explored all of the features on the site, but I have used the handy search bar to find visual inspiration. It works well in this way and is also a great tool for designers and artists to show off their work.
Searching for inspiration is one of the first things that I do in any new project and helps get the ball rolling when suffering from creative block. It can be a fun process and open your eyes to a new way of approaching your visual identity. As a designer, I’ve been told to pay attention to the world around me because inspiration can strike when you least expect it. The resources I’ve provided are just a starting point. There are a lot more websites and publications out there for you to discover, so get exploring!