Seeing is something we often take for granted. We use our eyes as soon as we wake up every day, but somehow we miss out on the world around us. With the rise of technology in general and the rise of the smartphone in particular, we walk around with our technological blinders on, failing in every aspect to truly see the world and the inspiration that surrounds us all. Yes, a quick Google search can yield hundreds of thousands of images to draw on for inspiration, but any creative can tell you that inspiration is all around — you just have to know how to see it.
One of the first things to focus on as a new designer is to learn how to make use of one of the most basic senses and to observe the world around us. Now of course you have to pay attention when you’re moving — walking down the street, driving your car or even just walking across the office — but that’s not the same as taking note of all the small, seemingly unimportant details that make up your environment.
An easy way to jump-start a new habit of seeing is to put down the phone, unplug the headphones, shut down the computer for an hour a day and move your focus to the details. Notice the colors and textures of signs, brick, concrete, trash, flowers, clothing, furniture, menus, the odd dings and scratches, weeds, sky, reflections.
Here are a few more focused exercises to help you up your inspiration-seeking game and discover all the overlooked details around you:
1. Pick a color to focus on for the day and make a note of all the new, random things you see.
2. Pick a random item, scene, building, room, food, etc., and do a quick five-minute sketch.
3. Take a break and change up your surroundings. A vacation is a great way to stock up on inspiration.
4. Look for opportunities to view something from a different perspective. Go for a walk around the block, but change up your route.
Inspiration is all around — you just have to know where to look.