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Inspired Marketing Design

Painters, authors, musicians and sculptors all depend on creative inspiration for their livelihood. While designers also rely on that inspiration, there is a significant difference in how that inspiration is carried out in marketing design. Artists can create in a vacuum and still realize a great deal creative satisfaction while designers must factor in their clients, audience and delivery method before the digital brush even hits the Wacom tablet.

These constraints can present challenges an independent artist may never have to face. But for a good designer who knows how to uncover inspiration in any circumstance, that restraint can push their creativity even further.

The Sources of Inspiration

Most designers have trusted sources of inspiration they turn to when approaching a new project. These sources can inform their art and spark stunning design. It may be as simple as searching Google Images or iStock for thoughts on how to illustrate a specific concept. Or it may mean a visit to forums where designers discuss how they approach various media from print to web to mobile applications.

To prevent their work from becoming stale, many designers have favorite sources that stretch the imagination on completely different plane than the one they work within. Web designers page through print pieces. Logo designers immerse themselves in great architecture. Paintings, photography and sculptures can inspire some of the most effective marketing design.

Some popular sites designers will visit to explore art in every medium include deviantArt, Laughing Squid, Advertising Age – Creative. Even the avant-garde products at Fab can influence design. Sites like Pinterest are also popular in the creative realm. Designers often turn to Pinterest to both find creative genius and save that genius on digital mood boards they can revisit when in need of inspiration.

Additionally, designers will immerse themselves in the work of design icons to spark creative vision. From Milton Glaser to Paula Scher to Stefan Sagmeister, most creatives have found inspiration in proven talents that have come before them. However, inspirational greats are not limited to individual talents. Many designers look to entire companies that have a reputation for turning out phenomenal projects year after year. The concepts at Volkswagen, Nike and Apple have been challenging and inspiring designers for decades.

Unblocking Creativity

Regardless of how talented and creative a designer is, it’s not uncommon to find oneself against a wall, completely uninspired. When this happens it can be helpful for a designer to change their environment. An office where you typically complete everyday administrative tasks can strangle creativity. Something as simple as moving to a conference room, lounge area or coffee shop can jostle the imagination enough to inspire.

Redirecting attention to another project within the same campaign can also help bring about an entirely new perspective that could potentially carry over to the original piece. Working within different formats forces a designer to approach the project from a new angle and can introduce a unique set of possibilities.

Similarly, stepping away from the project altogether and even sleeping on it can work wonders on a blocked imagination. A fresh pair of rested eyes may be just what a designer needs to see a creative solution he or she overlooked during a marathon design session.

If a designer’s own refreshed eyes aren’t enough, they may bring in a different set altogether. Having another individual to bounce concepts off of can mean the difference between a mediocre piece and an enduring marketing campaign. The second opinion may come from another graphic designer, creative director, copywriter, etc. The important thing is to avoid both the hypercritical and the over-complimentary in order to get accurate feedback.

Though most of design is considered an art form there is an element of formula that comes into play when inspiration is on a deadline. When facing a project and feeling uninspired, having dependable sources of inspiration and a method for uncovering vision can often save a designer and a campaign.

Our Inspiration Sources

So where does the Olive team look when searching for the next creative spark? We asked a few Olives to share their favorite inspiration sources:


  • Pinterest – Obvious favorite! A great source for all things design with the ability to follow very interesting boards.
  • Awwwards and SiteInspire – Showcases for beautiful and uniquely interactive web experiences. Updated frequently so content is always fresh and inspirational.
  • Designspiration – Discover and share design inspiration. Similar interface to Pinterest.


  • Professional/network television transition transitions and chyrons – Especially with music or sports-related shows since they tend to be more creative and atmospheric. Run them frame-by-frame with your Tivo for best dissection.
  • Awesome magazines and books – M, The Believer, McSweeney’s, etc.
  • Google image search




Eliza Green

Passionate about all aspects of content, Eliza has spent much of her career building an understanding of the nuanced needs of various audiences across nearly every vertical imaginable. She leverages this understanding to bring compelling, engaging content to pages of both the digital and print persuasion.