Aug 26, 2018

Get Inspired!

In the design industry, it is highly advantageous to have a portfolio to present your work to potential employers. For some, it is easy to create pieces to fill up a portfolio and express the passion of their skills. For others, it can often be frustrating to come up with new ideas and ways to show off the things that they know they can do. Luckily, there are a few ways to find inspiration from the world around you that will help generate portfolio pieces and ideas!

Notice Your Surroundings

One of the things that I have found really fun to do is to sit in a space and find shapes in my surroundings. For example: a leaf, a chair, or a window. Take that shape and sketch it out. Draw it with thick or thin lines or incorporate negative space. Rework the shape until you start to see another shape and can invision it as a logo or patterned illustration. What kind of company could you see this design working for? Do they have a name? Pick out a typeface to go along with your design. Develop a brand guideline and set rules for what the design will look in black and white, placed on abstract backgrounds, and highly simplified. It doesn’t take a complicated thought process to come up with a unique piece. Follow your intuition, make something fun!

Hobbies Have Influence

Another great way to stretch your skills and generate portfolio pieces is to think about how you spend your time. Other than design, what are your hobbies? Do you play video games or watch movies? Focus on an aspect of your life and design something based on that idea. If you like basketball, think about how you would design a website for a basketball team. What kind of needs and functions does a website for a basketball team need to have? What color scheme would you use? Invest time wireframing your idea and take it a step further by using apps like Adobe XD and Sketch to create a prototype!

Use a Creative Brief Generator

After all other methods have been expended, try a brief generator! The site that I have tried in the past is from Manuodelrio, but there are several out there to choose from. Pick a design category, an industry and hit generate. This will give you a random generated name, a description of that company, and what the job is.

Adobe Creative Challenges

I was so happy when Adobe began creating design challenges for their users to engage with. They post challenges on YouTube almost daily, ranging from UX/UI to photo manipulation. You can follow along with them there or you can even join their Slack groups to interact with others and get feedback on your creations. It’s a really great environment to learn new things and build new portfolio pieces.

It’s important when creating portfolio pieces to accompany each design with a write-up of why you made certain decisions and what process you used to get your end result. Treat each one like a case study. This shows that your work is authentic, and that you know how to translate design skills into real-world application.

*I have no affiliation with these companies, and receive no monetary compensation. I just want to send out some love and pass on what I’ve learned!


Amber Cornett is a Graphic Designer at Active8 Communications. She has 8 years of experience in design working for companies that include Modern & Smart, Mentor Enterprises, and Xarisma. Her specialties include branding, websites, illustrations, and social media.