Try Our FREE Content Analysis Software and Find Out Where You Stand Against the CompetitionGet started
December 23, 2021 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
If you love this post and found it useful, get some more graphic design ideas to spark your creativity.
When it comes to graphic designs, everyone has their own style. You may need to follow certain parameters that your employer or client provides to you, but your own creative ideas inspire your graphic designs in some way. Many current and prospective graphic designers also create their own portfolios, work on school projects, and partner with like-minded and creative individuals to produce a multi-part graphic design or gain inspiration from those who have differing ideas. Whatever your status as a graphic designer, it’s likely you appreciate ideas that can improve your work and have you think outside of the box. In this article, we discuss if your company should use ideas for graphic designs and share some styles, tools, and projects you may benefit from reading more about.
Yes, every company and designer can benefit from researching graphic designs and inspiration. Creativity builds upon itself. Seeing someone else’s work could inspire you to combine distinct elements or ideas to develop a brand new design. In marketing, graphic design helps brands establish their visual or sight identity, which helps customers recognize one organization from another. In promotions, it can also help set your products or services apart from another based on interest or individuality.
As writing instructors tell students, the best way to become a better writer is to become an avid reader. This principle applies to design, too. You can become a better graphic designer or produce better designs for your company by being an avid art viewer. This includes conduction research and paying attention to graphic designs in the world around you.
Use these style aesthetics to inspire your graphic designs:
Coloring books aren’t just toys for kids anymore. They’re an entire aesthetic. The coloring book style is unique because it focuses on lines and negative space that allows you to see the design. It also invites interaction to fill in that negative space according to their someone’s own artistic vision. Focus features include shapes, patterns, and imagery of people, animals, natural elements, and items.
The first modern comic books as we know them came out in the United States in 1933. They were reprints of newspaper comic strips. That original design and the updates that came after are the basis for the comic book aesthetic. Characteristics include bold and primary colors, heavy lines, hand-drawn illustrations, grainy texture, asymmetrical shapes, heroism influences, and speech and thought bubbles.
Style and trends are cyclical. Pulling inspiration from fashion, architecture, and trends from the past may help you with today’s designs. Consider these elements of inspiration from past aesthetics:
Duotone is a type of color principle, where you use two colors or values of two colors to make up your entire image. Sometimes, it appears there’s a third color when the two original ones blend or layer. This concept is popular for creating a contrast among images, text, and backgrounds.
The feminine aesthetic has less to do with targeting a female audience and more to do with the nature of the design elements. It’s the opposite of the masculine aesthetic in fonts, colors, and images. Common characteristics include cursive fonts, pastel colors, shades of reds and purples, flowers, and nature imagery.
Image via Romethem
You may wonder where the name Frasurbane comes from. It actually comes from the 90s sitcom Fraiser. This mostly interior design trend draws inspiration from the Seattle apartment set of the title character. It’s not just for interior design anymore. It’s making its strides in graphic design with characteristics like muted neutral colors, serif fonts, and anything that makes you think of adult sophistication and having your life together.
The gender-neutral aesthetic is popular in current culture. Using it in your designs may help them appeal to a broader audience. It’s closely related to minimalist design because of the focus on basic colors like blacks, whites, browns, and grays. Gender-neutral aesthetic uses classic or sans serif fonts for readability and may make use of icons and vectors rather than photographs for imagery.
The luxurious aesthetic attempts to create the aura that the brand or designer is elite or fits into a higher class or culture. Products designed with this aesthetic may exude indulgence or the desire to treat yourself with them. Rich colors like golds, blacks, and bronzes and the use of old-style cursive fonts are common. Minimalist layout principles are also popular.
Just like the feminine aesthetic, this is less about the target audience and more about the design elements themselves. It’s the opposite of feminine in colors, fonts, and focal subjects. Characteristics of the masculine aesthetic include block fonts, bold or rich colors, blue and green color palettes, accents in black, and woodsy and industrial elements.
Monochrome aesthetic is when you compose an image in just one color or values of one color. Grayscale is a common type of monochrome. Night-vision, in shades of green, is also an example. Black and white schemes have become popular recently with tech users, many now having the option to switch between light and dark modes on websites and devices. Monochrome may also make viewers feel nostalgic, such as when looking at black and white photographs.
Organic design became popular in the 1930s. Frank Lloyd Wright often receives credit for it because of his belief that design should create harmony between people and nature. Wright worked in architecture, but his principles also apply to graphic design. Achieve an organic aesthetic by using nature subjects like trees, animals, flowers, and landscapes. Consider applying rustic, weathered, or texture effects as well.
Find graphic design ideas from these projects, tools, and toys with a creative focus:
Image via udiscovermusic
Album artwork from vinyl records, CD covers, and Spotify playlist images can help you get ideas for graphic design projects. Album artwork is unique because it can use any style, color, or theme as long as it fits the aesthetic of the record or has artist or label approval. You can browse lists of the best album artwork or look at selections from your favorite bands for inspiration. Focus on areas like the layouts and the use of limited square space to arrange and juxtapose each element.
Did you ever realize that the architecture of the surrounding buildings is a source of artistic inspiration? Like other points in this category, architecture spans periods and eras of design where certain styles, building materials, or practices were popular. When looking for inspiration, consider the placement of ornate features and the curves and lines of a structure.
Band branding is an interesting place to get typography inspiration for your projects. Some bands like the Rolling Stones are better known for their icon-based logos. But other bands, like KISS, are most recognizable by their font because it’s incorporated into their band branding and merchandising.
Image via Amazon
Image via Simon & Schuster
Book covers, like album covers, can come in any style, pattern, or theme that relates to the genre or story inside. Covers for older or classic books may have nothing to do with the genre or tale. Book covers can give you ideas about typeface and coordinating or contrasting colors within a fixed space. They may also give you more out-of-the-box ideas. For example, the covers featured above from the Morgan Matson book Take Me Home Tonight both appear on the hardcover edition, with one on the outside of the sleeve and the other on the inside.
We often consider bottled sand art as a traditional children’s craft. It includes pouring colored sand into jars, bottles, or other containers in layers. Most artists layer the sand in patterns to create a design. This type of art can teach you about coordinating and contrasting colors, blending, and layering elements.
For any kind of industrial project, looking at the structure of circuit boards may spark some creative interest. They often use lines and geometric shapes to form connections between the pieces. The color schemes are industrial too, with greens, silver, grays, and blacks.
Image via Movie Posters Etc.
Concert posters, sometimes called handbills, are a potential source of inspiration for your graphic designs. They have an evolution all their own that spans genres and decades. The handbill style is an advertisement that features an image and logo for the band or artist in the top half of the rectangular frame. The promoter’s name appears at the top and information about the tour, concert date, location, and ticket sales appear at the bottom. Characteristics of handbill-style posters include monochrome backgrounds, black and white images, grainy texture, and dark serif fonts.
Data visualization is popular in industries that conduct research or collect facts to share with an audience. In areas like business, content marketing, and any field with statistics, you can work visual representations of data into your graphic designs. How? Use charts and graphs as design elements and make them appeal to your audience to create both informative and exciting visual experiences.
Did you know the earliest forms of infographics were on cave walls over 25,000 years ago in Brazil? That’s a bit of a stretch for inspiration, but looking at modern-day infographics may help you learn more about structure, layout, and data collection for your graphic design projects. Do you need help to create custom infographics for your business? Start a free call with CopyPress to learn how we can work with you to create the perfect image every time.
Image via Rainbow Toys
Children’s toys like this may help spark ideas for your graphic design projects. The original Lite-Brite toy debuted from Hasbro in 1967. It used a lightbox with a peg grid overtop. Place a black sheet of paper or a template over the grid and use the opaque colored pegs to create a pattern or free-form design. The way the designs look when finished, with illuminated single points of color, is something you could incorporate into a graphic design.
Image via Fiverr by @nataliewalker32
Many companies make crayons out of wax. When heated to a certain temperature, they melt. This can help you create a variety of patterns and designs. Many artists who engage with crayon arts use rainbow colors, white canvases, and black ink or paper to create a contrast to the vibrancy of the wax. Areas of focus for this type of art include color choice, blending, gravity, and motion.
Image via Complex
Looking at movie posters can help you get ideas for your graphic design projects. Jules Cheret, a painter, often gets credited with creating the first movie-related poster in 1890. Visual artist Marcelin Auzolle was the first to design one that promoted just one film. That set the preceding for the movie posters we recognize today. While the artistic styles, colors, images, and fonts may vary from poster to poster, the layouts generally stay the same. They often include a focal image relating to the plot in the center of the page with text about the movie framing the corners.
Origami is a form of East Asia paper folding. Depending on the object you intend to create, you must fold your paper precisely and crisply to get the desired result. Common origami shapes include cranes, boxes, and stars. Reviewing origami patterns and finished projects may give you ideas for how to use precise lines in your graphic designs.
The first modern photo booth came from Russia to New York City in 1925. The devices gained popularity in the late 1950s and early 1960s with the help of Hollywood, and photo strips are still popular in design today. Characteristics include a long and narrow rectangular shape, use of white space, border designs, groupings of four images, and color schemes in black and white, sepia, or muted tones.
Polaroid is a brand name for a type of instant photography that originated in 1937 and became popular between the 1950s and 1980s, before the widespread rise of digital photography. In the late 2010s, the nostalgia trend made this type of photography popular again, influencing the graphic design field, too. Incorporating Polaroid elements into your design may include the characteristics of rectangular, single images and white borders with space at the bottom for text.
You may consider scrapbooking a hobby, not an artistic influence, but the process to create them may help inspire your graphic designs. Scrapbooking often uses a similar process to collage, but may incorporate more or different styles, textures, and items that affect the depth, shading, and juxtaposition within the project. Scrapbooks may also have a more personal feel than collages and use elements like banners, stickers, and decals to tell more about the story and subject.
Spin art is a design technique where you pour, drip, or squirt different colors of paint onto a moving canvas. It’s a popular activity at fairs and amusement parks. The motion of the canvas draws the wet paint out to the edges to create the splattered and curved designs. You can add paint before spinning the canvas or while it’s in motion. This project can give you ideas for blending colors and understanding how motion affects the movement of elements across a canvas or space.
The Spirograph is a geometric drawing toy that uses mathematical curves called epitrochoids and hypotrochoids to create a pattern or design. The plastic discs have holes in them for a pen or pencil with grooves on the outside. When placed inside another disc, you can control the movements and create a specific pattern. These designs can come in a variety of colors and may have circular, star, or sunburst patterns. The way the lines intersect and interact with each other may serve as an inspiration for your designs.
Image via Wikipedia
Sports team logos are interesting pop culture inspirations for graphic designers. They often focus on typography, color selection, and the choice of images or icons. Most use a combination of the team colors, a font that’s unique from other teams in the same league, and include an image that relates to the team name, sport, or mascot. For example, the Seattle Kraken NHL team’s logo is a styled letter “S” in the shape of a Kraken tentacle and includes the creature’s red eye.
Image via Getting To Know Pittsburgh
Street art is any design creation done in a public place, like on a sidewalk or exterior wall of a building. It’s typically planned or commissioned by the city or building owner, such as with a mural. Street art often incorporates the natural or industrial elements of its surrounding location into the design.
Video game art can serve as an inspiration for graphic design. From backgrounds to characters and interactive elements, there are plenty of pieces to analyze and discover how they work when layered together. Older video games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario may have a more traditional aesthetic than newer games with a more realistic experience. But either type can be inspirational depending on the project.
Image via Behance by Emily Mueller
Viewmaster toys and the cards that go inside can serve as an inspiration for graphic designs. These toys originated from stereoscopes, a picture viewing device popular at tourist stops, events, and amusement parks of the early 20th century. Both the 3D image and the picture disc itself may help you get ideas for layout and understanding elements, like depth and shading.
No matter where you find your graphic design ideas, taking the time to conduct research can make you a better artist. The larger your expanse of knowledge and exposure to different designs and styles, the more references you have to create great work.
More from the author: