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The first thing that pops up in graphic designers mind, when they get a project is how to get started? Should they start searching the internet for ideas or grabbing a paper and pencil will be a better way to kick off? Should he solely rely on inspiration to start with a graphic design project or should he work hard from scratch to conceive an original idea?

Based on the process of accomplishing a graphic design project, there are three major types of graphic designers. The first are the ‘Lazy Workers’ who directly scavenge the web for ‘inspiration’ and try to pass off the work as ‘original’. The other type is the ‘Hard Workers’ who toil and sweat to drain out original ideas from their brain. The last type of designers is what I would like to call the “Smart Workers” who combine the effects of both inspiration and hard work. Which type of graphic designer should you avoid being?

But before you reach to a conclusion, let us analyze the dual outcomes of both aspects… ‘inspiration’ and ‘hard work’.


• Outcomes of Inspiration in Graphic Design:

Each day, more and more sites are evolving that provide access to graphic design inspiration. No doubt, these sites provide graphic designers a lot of help to get their creative juices flowing, but they also pose some disadvantages. Following are the positive and negative effects of inspiration on graphic design.

1. Saves Time and Effort:

Save Time and Efforts

For those graphic designers who are looking for a quick guidance for their graphic design project, inspiration is a wonderful tool to save time and efforts. Although it is not prudent to rely solely on inspiration, nonetheless it does save your time on brainstorming and conjuring up logo design ideas. For those designers who like to procrastinate or run short of time, it is a shrewd way of getting the job done.

2. Limits Creative Power:

As said earlier, inspiration has its advantages but also yields some drawbacks too. When you become overly reliant of ‘inspirational sites’ to give you design ideas, your creative and thinking power becomes restricted. For any graphic designer, it is not a good sign and also limits your ability to grow as a designer.

3. Higher Chances of Plagiarism:

Higher Chances of Plagiarism

On the downside, using inspiration can cause serious issues of copyright and plagiarism. Since you are just amending some aspects of an already existing design, there are chances that your design will look similar. One of the biggest personality types of graphic designer is uniqueness. This cannot be achieved by solely using inspirational material.

4. Learn About New Trends:

Regardless of the fact that inspiration limits your creative thinking, it gives you a lot to learn as well. Since thousands of creative designers upload their design concepts and ideas on inspirational platforms, it gives you a diverse spectrum of graphic and logo design trends to learn.

5. Causes Distraction:

Causes Distraction

The thing about using internet for ideas is that it causes a significant distraction. Considering the myriad blogs and websites that offer design inspiration have chains of ‘related stuff’ on each page, graphic designers are bound to keep on clicking one after the other. Moreover, the social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook will always be a constant waste of time.


• Outcomes of Hard Work in Graphic Design:

Having discussed the dual effects of inspiration, let us now turn our focus to the other side of the story. Those designers who work hard using their brain to generate a concept from scratch also reap various benefits. But there are a few drawbacks to this as well. Following are the dual outcomes of only using your head in graphic design:

1. Generate Unique Ideas:

Generate Unique Ideas

Firstly, when you don’t take aid from any source, you are bound to generate ideas that are unique, fresh and distinctive. The concept that you create using your head will be something that hasn’t been done before.

2. Boundless Creativity:

As I highlighted earlier, inspiration bounds your ability to think as a graphic designer. Hence, by working solely on the basis of your own intellect you can employ boundless creativity and ingenuity. Since your thinking is not limited to the designs you search on the net, you will have freedom over your creative though process. You can brainstorm for novel and fresh ideas, which is an important stage of developing a creative design idea.

3. Sense of Pride:

Sense of Pride

4. Create Your Own Trend:

Design inspiration is all about following already existing trends and movements in graphic design. But when you use your intellect and brain power, you create an entirely new trend. Instead of being a trend-follower, you will become a trend-setter.

5. Requires Relatively More Time:

Relatively More Time

On the downside, relying solely on your intellect is relatively more time taking. Since these types of designers follow a comprehensive process, it involves more time that the designers who directly take inspiration from various sites and finish off the project.

What Do You Prefer?

“Inspiration without hard work is ineffective. Graphic designers shouldn’t consider inspiration as the solution to their problems. Rather, inspirational material should be used as a tool to working harder and effectively. In conclusion, I would like to ask my fellow graphic designers as to which way to do they prefer? And Why?”

  1. Emily Williams On October 18th, 2011 at 7:38 am

    I think only the wise combination of tough work and a great doze of inspiration will make the designer successful :)

  1. helen bogun On October 18th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    i need both ways
    inspiration and hard work.
    first of all my client is my inspiration, i need the direct contact to figure out what he wants.
    sure it is necessary to listen to the client, but also to get a feeling of the situation, of the product he needs.

    sometimes i browse the web with an idea of mine in my, mostly to search photos for the client.

    and then i will do some sketches for the client

  1. Rick Feit On October 18th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Very good article, I find that sometimes it is difficult to be creative without inspiration from other sources on the web. Particularly when a client will refer you to a site or logo design that they like, from there on out i always feel like i’m bound to my design looking similar, better, or worse than the design the clients initially liked.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  1. Scott On October 18th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Well, I feel like both are important.. I mean there are always new things to be found researching so I guess I’m an inspiration type.. I see where you’re coming from and would definitely reevaluate my outlook on this.. Perhaps even limit my research as to not become too lazy.. I know I have been lately.. I’ll start researching then never start the project..

    But what to do.. Because inspiration is just that! It helps to get motivated and seeing what others are doing.. Not so much copy.. Just my thoughts..

  1. laura On October 20th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    I think that the design process have the both aspects. Is important to do originals things for to response to project, but it should to be done with knowing the context, tendencies, and other aspects… the hard work should be accompanied for the “design inspiration” (context knowing)

  1. Chinthaka Herath On October 21st, 2011 at 5:02 am

    Definitely need both of them, for me Inspiration & hard-work go hand in hand in creating some of my best work.

  1. YasTech Web Design On October 21st, 2011 at 8:09 am

    I believe it is important to be inspired, but in the end, it is hard work that leads to success.

  1. Rongdhonu Graphics On October 22nd, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I think hard work and inspiration both are necessary to be a successful Graphics Designer.

  1. Adam Booth On October 25th, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Great article and a great topic to get other designers talking and commenting.

    I agree with the majority of other comments and I believe the majority of designers I know and would say that any good designer will use both inspiration coupled with a great dose of hard work.

    I feel the two go hand in hand and one cannot work without the other. I also feel that finding inspiration is a great way of finding new techniques and looks to help enhance my own designs. Also it helps to see what other people are doing and help you keep up with or even surpass them.

  1. tishag On October 25th, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    This article has a lot of great tips for any person who is caught in a creative rutt-not just graphic designers. My favorite tip is creating your own trends because that’s how you be innovative and stand out and having the right training also helps. I heard that FIDM has a great graphic design program.

  1. Josh House On October 28th, 2011 at 2:26 am

    I think that successful graphic designer is the one who does his job with passion, devotion and pleasure. They should be talanted of course and to have rich imagination. Should pay attention to the detail, as well.

  1. ONDABOX On November 10th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    We agree completely, no one should be a “copy-cat” (for lack of better words), but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get help. It is important that you combine hard work with inspiration; this is the best kind of worker in our opinion. Being a hard worker does have its benefits like you mentioned: having creative ideas, growing pride and more; but it takes longer to generate a finished product. At ONDABOX we believe in balancing hard work with inspiration. Overall you had a very beautiful and well crafted blog post; it was insightful.

  1. John @ Start Mission On November 23rd, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    This post really helps me appreciate what designers have to go through. As a backend programmer, I never quite understood why designers need so much time to create something. Now I understand why….

  1. Beth On December 7th, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I agree with Emily. A combination of the two is needed. But hard work, hard work, hard work is needed, for inspiration only won’t do a thing!

  1. Joshua Parkhurst On January 27th, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    You can end up reinventing the wheel if you completely ignore what else is out there. Hundreds of years of design has progressed us to where we are today and if we don’t build upon that experience we might as well be designing a logo with the same thoughts of design the pioneers had. With that said we need to make sure that we are BUILDING upon the design experience the world has gone through and creating something completely and new and unique. This also needs to be communicated to the client/business owner so they understand that they can’t just take someone else’ logo design and insert their name in it instead or use someone else’ flyer design and put their branding on it.

  1. David On January 30th, 2012 at 6:41 am

    1% inspiration 99% perspiration - I love that quote!

    but to shed that perspiration you have to be proud, creative and all of the above

  1. New Web Templates On February 1st, 2012 at 5:32 am

    Well i think both hardwork and inspiration are effective things for graphic designers!! If designers are inspired from someone’s designs, they could make something new and more effective with his hardwork. He can put some unique ideas to make more effective designs!!

  1. 99designs Reviews On February 2nd, 2012 at 8:50 am

    Wow, these are really cool tips for becoming a successful graphic designer. I am a newbie going to start freelance graphic designing. This blog really inspired me and gave me unique ideas. I think now I really know what to do further. Thank you very much for posting.

  1. john On February 9th, 2012 at 3:57 am

    Good topic, as being professionally active in graphic design for over 20 years most successful design projects are archived by eating and drinking your client. They are the best sources for inspiration. when it comes to style it could be handy looking at successful designs on the web or books but never without taking notice about the design proces, intents and mission of the designs you’re looking at for inspiration.

    My best designs are those where customers and I have a very good personal and emotional match,.
    That’s my starting point accepting a design job. I even create graphic design for people even they did not demand me making a design, just by having a strong click with em I feel like expressing my self visually. When showing the design telling them they inspired me doing so the biggest reward is a happy smile and those people are my best ambassadors for my business and skills.

    So, inspiration is to see in two ways: learning about styles by watching great designs and their history of creation and getting inspired by the people you meet. To fully exercise those two is hard working in every aspect.

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