Ways for Freelancers to Get Inspiration for Design Work

Ways for Freelancers to Get Inspiration for Design Work

Working in a reputable web agency adds prestige to your resume. It is also a privilege when you do not need to worry about your income. But of course there are times you may have doubled your working hours unconditionally (like Saturdays and Sundays), with the company’s best interest in heart.

Your immense commitment, sacrificing of your time and accumulating of skills are experiences that will be a great attribute to the next big firm that you plan to get into. You will be recognized in an industry party, you also enjoy meetings and partying with the higher society (people who pay your bosses so your bosses can pay you). As long as you are comfortable and happy, life will still be great. But bear in mind an unspoken fact, a brutal truth; your company has you in their asset temporarily, what assets do you have for yourself permanently? Glamour and respect, is it really the case? Whatever it is, the company have bought your time away.

Inspiration for Freelancers
Image credit: Yasin Hassan

As you read this, you may already be toying with the idea of becoming a freelancer yourself. But you may be holding back because you are fearful of not having enough projects to sustain yourself financially, handling monstrous clients and of course, the most crucial of all, the lack of inspiration.

However, as a freelancer, you have more leverage and there are so much more privileges you can focus. One of the most important privileges is; the freedom of time.

The freedom of time is priceless. If you are a stable freelancer, you do not have to battle with the unavoidable politics in the studio. You also would not dread working in a space that doesn’t belong to you or the smell of stale air on a Monday morning; but let’s not go there.

The learning curve of an up and coming freelancer is so steep and exciting, because he gets to take on the role of a project manager, art director, designer as well as client services. While taking on too many roles alone puts a strain in the procession of a project, the bigger problem to face is when the creative juices turn stale especially when the freelancer is having trouble dealing with deadlines. Many “freelancers” often make the mistake of over committing themselves in project handling and neglect the real design work. Generating fresh and creative ideas is what a designer is for! Can you manage it all?

When your inspiration has been compromised, there are ways to get your creative juices flowing again.

Here are some ideas we have compiled that you can try. What about yours? How do you keep the creativity going?

Take an Evening Walk

Walking is fun and easy. Get away from your desk! Take a walk in the park, or along the beach. An evening walk does wonders. It is healthy and also allows you get some alone time to think. Your mind starts to relax as you appreciate and enjoy the sound of waves, the chattering of birds, the breeze, and the beautiful colours of nature.

Taking a walk
Image credit: Tja’Sha

Bring along a small notebook for sketching or just to take down your thoughts. This creates a healthy balance between your body and mind, and helps to release your stress.

Bring out the Fashionista in you

Fashion is design. Web designers and developers are not boring geeks. Be daring, be experimental in your dressing. Take some time to play around with colours. See how you could look different with a new hairstyle or mixing and matching your outfits. Of course don’t go overboard and scare your clients off with your Halloween outfits. Not sure how to look good? Visit fashion web sites, turn on the television, take a walk down town or even people watch at coffee joints. Take notice of the styles and colours that suit you. You may not get it right the first time, but once you grasp it, you could be the next fashionista among your friends!

Image credit: MacGBeing

Making an effort to dress up helps make you feel good and it also shows how conscientious you are with details. Good fashion sense gives you the opportunity to strike a lasting impression. So before you step out of the house, look at yourself in the mirror again, and see what you can do to improve those T-shirts (obtained from free events) and jeans you always wear.

Read about Art History

Have you ever thought of Art History is sexy? Think about what Medieval Art, Romanticism, Cubism or Neoclassicism are and represent? Think Salvador Dali, Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Kandinsky, just to name a few. They are the grandparents of art today. The different forms of popular expression in visual culture – painting, sculpture, graphics, photography, film, architecture, and mass media were born out of these artists’ works and great minds.

Art history
Image credit: Wikipedia

Reading about art history expands our knowledge about verbal and written literacy. It helps us to think deeper about the roots of design and to give rational to the visuals we produce. Only by absorbing ourselves in art history, understanding it, and linking the concepts to today’s work of art, can we produce even better works in this century.

Visit the Museum

Museums contain the culture and heritage of your country. Most museums (especially art museums) are often identified as a gallery where exhibits can be found. Museums provide inspiration through personal connections with visitors by engaging them in various activities. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the American Association of Museums created SPARK, a powerful and emotional short film about humans, and the profound impact that Philadelphia museums and cultural institutions have on their and hearts and minds.

Music heals your soul

Music relaxes our minds. Playing a soothing song or tune, can stimulate your mind to recall happy memories and transport you to faraway lands you’ve always dreamed about. Listening to your favourite tunes while working on your design, eases the tension, unclogs the mind and motivates your body to work well.

Image credit: crsan

From time to time, keep a look out for your favourite bands or gigs that are visiting your city or town. It is a great opportunity for you to let your hair down and share the experience with a bunch of friends.

Say hello. Be social.

I know striking a conversation may be difficult for some; however, it is always important to keep your circle of friends wide. One of the disadvantages being a freelancer is that you lack colleagues. Lacking colleagues could also mean lacking conversation and outing activities. So always seize the opportunity to date your friends out. Going out to meet their friends or their circle of friends expands your social loop.

Image credit: Cel

Learn to build a rapport with them. Telling them about your job, business or skills may help you to get projects in the future. Networking is very important for a freelancer! And of course, it is even better if you participate in design communities and meet fellow designers. It is always essential to speak to people in your industry and understand their point of view regarding design issues.

Need More Ideas?

Finding hobbies and other activities you enjoy doing to stimulate your mind is crucial. It also adds so much more colour to your life! What do you do when the juices just don’t flow for you? Share them with us!

Charlotte’s interest is in web interface and design as well as motion graphics. Her absorption with her work is mostly due to her attention to detail and passion for the world of design. Winding down after work, which consumes much of her time; she enjoys traveling, exploring new places, gastronomy, and fashion.


  1. / Reply

    very useful

    thank you

  2. / Reply

    Loved the article, I now work freelance because my company got bankrupt. And I must say I love it people find me again and want to work with me. But the lack of colleagues… I just miss them. And I’ve so many contact with people every day but sitting next to them, making jokes, having lunch.. just miss it. I’m lucky to live in the center of a city so I take a walk now and then.. mostly to feel some alive people around myself. But sometimes.. it’s just hard.

    1. / Reply

      I know this feeling. The one thing about working for an employer is that there is a social situation there; 8-12 hours each day you see the same people and socialize at some level. that’s a lot of social time that vanishes when begin to freelance.

      it helps to have consistent social meetings with friends or colleagues or freelancers – arrange for weekly lunches, nights at the pub, and so forth. i used to go for lunch each week with good friends that weren’t freelance, but at least worked nearby. just to keep things sane.

    • Ray,
    • December 3, 2009
    / Reply

    If that great list isn’t enough, drop into my blog. It’s all we offer. Inspiration.

  3. / Reply

    I love the article! I think it is very important to make a big effort to socialize as a freelancer. I sometimes find myself coming out of my design cave cringing at the sun after days of being inside and working.

    • Ali,
    • December 3, 2009
    / Reply

    nice article because enjoyed reading it. well done

    • Grey,
    • December 3, 2009
    / Reply

    thanks for the tips! i am a web designer aspiring to be a freelancer perhaps in the future, i guess having the outdoor walks and the social life is what many of us designers are lacking! we lock ourselves up in the room for hours and hours and forget about the outside world. it’s dangerous!

  4. / Reply

    Thanks for your tips, I use some of them but the others will be great to apply them.

    • jofcar,
    • December 3, 2009
    / Reply

    Nice article :)

    One extra which always gives me inspiration, broken relationships.. It hurts like hell, but often it are those times when I create my best work ;)

    Keep up the good work!

    1. / Reply

      Thank you!

      Broken relationships? That’s interesting. Hopefully you can find another alternative to create your best work! Don’t think you will experience that very often :)

    • Andy,
    • December 3, 2009
    / Reply

    Good stuff. I think the best way is definitely to get out there. Go and walk round the streets, check out shops, street art, everything and anything has some sort of inspiration. Doing stuff you generally don’t usually / would normally do is a good idea too.

    I always find that inspiration gets you when you least expect it, in fact, only when I least expect it! Pen, paper or iPhone with you at all times is a must.

  5. / Reply

    I agree – walking is what works best for me.

    I have started sticking a folded up piece of paper plus a small pen in my pocket because I get so many good ideas when I’m on my walks.

    I’ll have to try the other ideas too – thanks for the suggestions!

  6. / Reply

    I really love this article, really useful tips and well written. I will certainly find some great inspiration form this… thanks

  7. / Reply

    nice reading, …music works for me =)

    thanks for great article!

  8. / Reply

    good movies sometimes inspire me too (i.e. Pan’s Labyrinth or a good space movie). music is definitely a big source of inspiration for me, both listening to and playing it.

    i get most inspiration when i can clear my head of the everyday insanities we all deal with. drumming, laying on the couch and doing nothing but listening to a good cd, or taking a trip to visit family up in the mountains always helps me center myself and “reset”, then ideas usually start flowing once they’re no longer stuck in the vortex of day-to-day responsibilities, worries, and/or endless mental notes.

  9. / Reply

    Very useful article. Sometimes, when I need some inspiration I just close my eyes and lay down thinking about books I’ve read, pictures I’ve seen, movies I’ve watched etc… until inspiration comes in. I think is better to spend 20 minutes doing this that to waste 40 minutes just looking at my screen.

    • Jimm,
    • December 14, 2009
    / Reply

    Intresting article. Nice job. I would add the next two ones:

    1. Attend some seminars, classes in design and graphics

    2. In the process of creative something inovative, try to get started with a little bit different approach. For instance, if you want to design an UI for an elementary school, try first to see what are nowdays kids favourites cartoon, characters and so on. This isn’t just socialising, but it’s a combination with it and market research.

  10. / Reply

    The most important things to me when getting an idea is, TAKE AN EVENING WALK. With this, I can think of new ideas while walking into the park or lake with my friends or myself. :)

    Hey Charlotte, great post.

    1. / Reply

      Absolutely. I was in Spain just 1 week ago, and I took many evening strolls in the cool air. The nature and buildings are so inspiring! Thanks Baloot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Iconfinder Coupon Code and Review

Iconfinder offers over 1.5 million beautiful icons for creative professionals to use in websites, apps, and printed publications. Whatever your project, you’re sure to find an icon or icon…

WP Engine Coupon

Considered by many to be the best managed hosting for WordPress out there, WP Engine offers superior technology and customer support in order to keep your WordPress sites secure…

InMotion Hosting Coupon Code

InMotion Hosting has been a top rated CNET hosting company for over 14 years so you know you’ll be getting good service and won’t be risking your hosting company…

SiteGround Coupon: 60% OFF

SiteGround offers a number of hosting solutions and services for including shared hosting, cloud hosting, dedicated servers, reseller hosting, enterprise hosting, and WordPress and Joomla specific hosting.