At Figma, we have a channel in Slack aptly-named “Inspiration, ” where Figmates across teams highlight material on the fundamental theory of physics and museum exhibitions alongside links to home goods and sneakers.
These days, we’re still sharing our favorite bits and pieces from the Internet, but it’s a difficult time to be creative. We don’t have to tell you that. So many of us are searching for inspiration, both in our personal and professional lives.
Knowing that we could all use a little dose of imagination, we asked members of the Figma design team to share the places they turn to for inspiration. Here, you’ll find their tips: making stickers, the power of social media, and how your camera roll can get you out of a rut.
While we’re likely less productive than usual, the reality is that many of us are still pouring our mental energy into work. Especially now, it’s easy to get wrapped up in a cycle of overthinking. Instead of trying to force your way through it, it can helpful to dive into something entirely different.
Whether it’s a hobby you’ve been meaning to try or a skill you’ve wanted to develop, immerse yourself in something—anything—new. “Lately, I've been finding inspiration through new simple hobbies like collecting plants and rearranging furniture,” says brand designer Remilla Ty.
Principal designer Rasmus Andersson says that exploring a topic you’re interested in can be helpful: “I also find inspiration in learning about other things seemingly unrelated to design, like computer science research, music or games.”
But it doesn’t have to be about challenging yourself. Remilla says, “[I’m] going back to the things that bring me joy like making art. Lately I've been taking time out of my day to draw and write.”
In the spirit of doing something joyful, she recently turned some of those drawings into stickers. “These type of passion projects inspire me to do work through out the week,” she says, noting that it gives her a “creative boost.”
One of the many difficult things about trying to be creative while sheltering in place is that the experiences that some of us turn to—traveling, art, architecture, live music—are inaccessible.
Sometimes memories can offer much-needed perspective: “I tend to sit on my phone and look through photos I’ve taken over the years,” says Tori Hinn, Creative Director. “Photography is one of my biggest personal passions and I’ll get re-energized from looking at photos I took in (literally) different times.”
We know it’s important to stay close while far apart, and over the past few weeks, we’ve been thrilled to see designers come together in Figma. Since we can’t be out and about in the world, many of us are turning to our online communities.
Whether it’s social media, the Figma Community, or just finding helpful articles and videos online, we’re all finding inspiration in different corners of the Internet. Product designer Katherine Frazer likes visual organization tool Are.na because ”it’s more collaborative [than] other bookmarking sites,” and “people can openly contribute to pins.”
Rasmus and Noah Levin, Design Director, turn to Instagram and Twitter.“ I find a lot of inspiration in work by others,” says Rasmus. He seeks out specific Twitter accounts (like Archillect’s), while Noah uses Twitter as a way to discover more organically: “I look for designers who share interesting things on Twitter, which usually leads me to follow more people who are doing interesting things, and the cycle begins.”
While other designers and their work can offer a good jumping off point for some projects, it can easily become too much of the same for others. “I think the further the thing I’m looking at is from design, the more it inspires me,” Tori says. “My brain has to be more creative and work harder to make connections between the conceptual things I’m thinking about and the visuals that also want to come out.”
For Tori, that’s music and movies, while Remilla prefers shows and content “related to innovation, but [that] aren’t necessarily related to design,” specifically referencing cooking shows.
If you’ve hit a wall on a particular project, it can be tempting to search for examples to emulate. But Rasmus cautions that doing so can be a trap: “At all costs, avoid looking at work by others that is solving that specific thing. Either it becomes a bad influence (you end up with a copy-paste) or your creativity is herded into a narrow mindset.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t look to others to see how they problem solve. “Instead, I seek out stuff people have done in neighboring fields or similar-but-different problems,” he says.
Design is, arguably, in everything that we make and do. But sometimes the best way to get inspiration about the project you’re working on is to get space from it.
How inspired you feel will likely ebb and flow, and that’s ok. It’s not about being productive, but bringing a little spark of creativity and imagination into the moments where you really need it.