Inspiration to Innovation
I want to start this article by establishing what design is. It can be defined as the totality of creative activities leading up to the existence of a particular product. Such a design aims to make the user as satisfied as possible.
- The light of innovation?
- Boredom — the friend you must kill!
- How to Achieve Novelty
- Let yourself be inspired in all possible ways!
Putting it simply, it's the looks. But the looks only hold for a short time if they lack content inside. So make sure it's not just the appearance! Your clients will appreciate high-quality content, and it'll pay off.
Being innovative in any field is tricky. There are two situations in which innovation occurs. The first is intentional and happens when you try to devise a new solution to a problem; the second is unintentional and is a eureka moment during the creative process. The second kind can be about a completely different thing than you're working on, being born out of a subtle epiphany if you watched House M.D. or Macgyver, you know exactly what I mean.
Cambridge Dictionary explains innovation as “a new idea or method, or the use of new ideas or methods." I would say that innovation in design is a new step or a modification of a step in the creation process that results in a more exciting and usually overall better result. I think the last part: "overall better result," is quite essential because you wouldn't consider something worse as innovative.
The light of innovation?
New ways of doing things come during practice, not from pure knowledge. If you can come up with something innovative just by learning it for the first time, someone else most certainly overlooked it. I guess, you could still consider it innovative.
We usually come up with innovative ideas during the creation process. So somewhere between the decision to make something and "Oh yeah, I did it!" a spark of genius will appear and tell you something valuable. Be alert and try to spot it at any time. It can be easily overlooked. So if you want to be innovative in some field, practice it as much as possible. This answer may be disappointing if you are looking for a shortcut, but it's the truth.
Boredom — the friend you must kill!
As you create more and more, there may be points in time when you find your design repeating known patterns. This is when boredom gets born. So is boredom something bad? Surely not! Boredom is your friend, the unpleasant kind, so it's best when it doesn't last long. Meaning it's best when you kill it. It signals that you can proceed in your journey to be great. It's a signal to acquire a new skill.
So if you want to cure your boredom, try learning something new and incorporate it into your design. Treat boredom as a leeway for innovation, as a space to be unique.
How to Achieve Novelty
Can you actually be original? Isn't everything just a better (or worse) copy of something else? The design rules have been set. You have fundamental ways of doing things, and breaking them will often result in a bad design (not always, if it looks good, it looks good, but to verify that, you need experience). There is a trend in design called "Antydesign," which focuses on breaking those rules, but we're not talking about it today. Just a fan fact for you to follow up on.
So we have rules to obey, which won't allow us to be entirely original. You can break them, but they are there for a reason. We have beauty and readability standards that have been forming for a long time.
This is how our brain interprets visual assets and reality in general. Those rules become so ingrained in your subconscious that not following them causes unnecessary fatigue, which we interpret as bad design.
The fatigue comes from our brain having to do additional work because it has to process something unpredictable and can't use ready-to-go subconscious mechanisms. This feeling is interpreted as bad design. Let's say we won't break the rules.
Before I started writing this article, I'd had a definite answer to the question: Can you be really original? But as I was writing it, some doubts appeared.
Before, I say you can't be original because we learn everything from what we perceive. All the things we do, come from what we've learned. You can paint a forest because you have seen one. Could you imagine a yellow circle while existing in a reality where the only thing you can see is a red square? No, you couldn't.
But we also can mix ideas. And that's where novelty, if any, exists.
Let yourself be inspired in all possible ways!
The most original thing is a complete abstraction containing no real-life elements. If you're not doing abstract art, the best way to be original is to find inspiration in places where it has yet to be seen. This could be anything, and it's up to you to be creative with it.
- Everyday items
- Light Reflections
- COME UP WITH SOMETHING
An example for you:
A quick UI design inspired by a leaf of tablets that happened to be lying next to me when I wrote this article.
Go out and look in:
- Restaurants/ Pubs/ Clubs
- Maybe a conversation?
- Go for a ride and COME UP WITH SOMETHING!
There are also many websites from which you can draw inspiration by looking at other people's work. These are the ones I use the most. You can easily find many more just by googling.
And here is one where you can read interviews with people specializing in all fields of design.
Another great way to get inspired is to generate inspiration with AI. The previous article I wrote, which you can check out here, touches on this topic. Additionally, while you're drawing inspiration from different sources, always try to add your twist. Try to change something the way you feel would nicely accompany the design.
This may not be so obvious initially, but with enough time and practice, you will start noticing new fields to explore. These twists will reshape your design into something you will be satisfied with.
Summing up, to be original, mix as many ideas as you can. The more you mix, the less your work resembles what you saw. That's how you become more original. I hope you got something from this article that will help you on your artistic journey.