Behind every unique idea lies at least one source of inspiration, but rarely are outsiders privy to such insight. Luckily, the design wizards at NogginLabs sit just a few feet away from my desk, so it didn't take more than a quick spin in my chair to inquire for myself. I wanted to know what provided the fuel that thrusts our designers forward to pioneer the visual frontier and constantly compel learners to learn better and learn more. Thankfully, I was able to convince a few of them to offer me a peek behind the curtain. Here's what they had to say:
Nikki Slaughter, Senior Designer
"My go-to source for design inspiration is a Chrome extension called Panda, which actually acts as a sort of catch-all for a wide variety of design resources. Once installed, the app replaces the standard blank 'New Tab' screen with a grid of links and thumbnails collected from all of the most popular design/css resources on the internet. It's very customizable, so I like to organize mine with links from Webdesigner News, CSS-Tricks and thumbnails pulled from Awwwards, Dribbble or One Page Love. It's great because whenever I open a new tab (which is pretty often), I'm always greeted with fresh, inspirational examples of visual design and the latest in design news, trends, and tips."
Galen Gulick, Designer
"I’m inspired deeply by animation, speculative fiction, and comic books—specifically the films of Studio Ghibli, Japan’s answer to Disney in the U.S. While their style often doesn’t manifest itself directly in my work, I'm obsessed with their attention to detail, bold sense of style, and use of color, heart, and emotion. That's what I try to instill in my design: a bit of heart when possible, an unexpected flair in movement, layout, graphic treatment. I find inspiration in sources that I think are often overlooked or under-represented, often due to preconceived notions of what high and low art are in our culture. Newer mediums like animation, comics, and especially video games, all provide surprising insight into experience—a way of interacting with art and design and imagination that is refreshing and truly alive.
"The illustrated book Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud, discusses why iconic, bold, and simplistic forms found in cartoons and comic books dwell in the realm of ideas; are able to leapfrog our defenses; allow us to suspend our disbelief; and connect with seemingly living, breathing characters and places that are represented by basic circles, lines, and dots. If there is magic in this world, a form it manifests itself in is our mind’s ability to step momentarily into another reality and truly breathe its lights, colors, and sound. Design is the art of visual communication, and the goal is to instill as much as possible with as little as possible. With each brush stroke, UI button, or typographic treatment, a statement is being made. And the work I described above has taught me that the collective impact of small, simplistic-but-thoughtful visual statements when united in concert create a powerful, creative message."
Nick Durst, Designer
"Whenever I'm in need of inspiration, my most common go-to is StumbleUpon. It allows me to pull up random web pages based on interests I've selected, and I can quickly gather ideas for imagery, typography, UX, logo design, color, and more. In just a short few minutes, I'm exposed to some terrific design examples that exist in a multitude of uses and industries. I've discovered some of my best inspiration on StumbleUpon and use it almost every day.
"It goes beyond my design interests as well. I can also check out categories such as sports, science and technology, photography, web development, and countless others. Often, I end up finding design inspiration in these other categories when I'm least expecting it. And to me, that's the best way to be inspired: by surprise."
Lauren Niemchick, Senior Designer
"I am constantly inspired by little moments found in my everyday discoveries. While I do follow design trends, I am always thinking about how my work can stay relevant and have it’s own relatable voice. I try to make a concerted effort to bring natural, handmade elements into my work to make it feel tailor-made to the content. That means inspiring others to see a glimpse of my own world. As Bob Marley once said, “My home is in my head.” Do you ever find yourself in moments where you suddenly see the world a little bit differently? Maybe while walking through the city with your headphones on? Or while on a nature walk through a wildlife preserve? These are the moments from which I draw my inspiration.
"Some of the resources I look to in my design production process are artists' blogs and markets. A blog called She Explores is a collection of stories about women changing the world through art and exploration. For design assets and resources, I love Creative Market. Think of Creative Market as the Esty of the design world. It’s full of handmade fonts and vectors, including free giveaways, and has a very curated, grassroots quality to each of its shops."