You would not believe how often I get asked some form of “So where does your inspiration come from for logos?” while I’m out networking and chatting with people. Since it’s been coming up so much, I thought I’d chat today about where my inspiration for designs comes from. This one is a little more personal so if you’re curious about who I am this is the blog for you.

Getting asked where my inspiration comes from is a mind-boggling question for me because, like most creatives, my inspiration comes from everywhere. I have thousands of photos on my phone and endless pins in my private Pinterest account cataloging something I liked and thought was useful.

When I’m designing a logo my job is to solve a problem in a visual way based on all of the information I’ve collected from the client and I struggle to explain exactly how I do that. I’ve been designing for a long time and a lot of the problem-solving process is second nature to me by now.

The best way to explain this is to tell you a story. I think I’ll tell you the short version of a story I love from when I was in design classes.

When I was in design classes, we had a real-world client who wanted a logo using a unique shape and the entire logo should have an artsy-modern feel to the design. That’s it, no other details provided. We had a short amount of time to create our best work from start to finish. Here I am with the very open-ended prompt to use a unique shape and create something modern and exciting with it. I jealously watched as my classmates sketched and colored while I sat there completely stuck hating everything that I drew. Thankfully, I didn’t have to present anything until the next week.

Now, I don’t remember why I ended up in the grocery store that day, but I do remember the kids who were bowling with soda bottles and cans down the aisle I needed to get into. I went around them and walked up the aisle from behind them reshelving scattered cans as I went because I’m that person. One of the cans I picked up had a huge dent in the side. I couldn’t stop staring at it. When I’m working, I see the world in shapes, colors, and textures. After about a minute my brain realized this was the unique shape I’d been looking for. It was the solution! I traced it with the pencil and notepad in my purse. From there everything slowly started to fall into place as I worked.

My teacher wasn’t a fan of my work because I hadn’t followed any of the classical art rules they preferred, but the client liked it and they were grading it. I still laugh at the fact that a dented can got me an A. The client even wrote on the back of it “I like how you see the world. Keep at it”

I guess the biggest takeaway from this is that inspiration can come from anything. It is personal and is based on a lifetime of interests and experiences. There are multiple ways to get a result in design just like there are multiple ways to solve an equation. Lastly, not everyone is going to like how you or I do our work, but someone out there is going to love us for who we are and our unique approach to things.