Oh, look, Alex is writing a compilation list. How original! In the immortal words of the great Tina Turner: “Greatest hits is easy because one has nothing to do.” Anyway… I know everyone writes these kind of posts, but, truth be told, I love reading all of them. There’s nothing quite like finding a new treasure trove of inspiration that makes your brain start doing somersaults and firing off ideas like you’ve downed a litre of coffee, and as a designer it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on in the industry – what are the latest trends and styles? What new cutting-edge HTML/CSS wizardry is happening out there? What new camera equipment has just been announced that costs more than your entire life savings and house? So, without further ado, here are five places that I go to for inspiration. They’re not numbered because they’re all brilliant in their own ways, and hopefully some of these sites may be just what you’re looking for. Codrops https://tympanus.net/codrops/ It seems to be getting more and more popular now, but for quite a few years Codrops by Tympanus.net has been my go-to website for front-end web design inspiration. Some of their concepts are just too advanced to actually implement (web browsers still have some catching up to do) but others are just brilliant, inspired solutions to design or content presentation problems. They also have a fantastic collective online magazine-type collection of resources from around the web which gets released every week or so, which is well worth looking through. Behance https://behance.net/ Yeah, the big daddy of design inspiration. I was in two minds whether to include this or not, because if you’re a designer and you haven’t heard of Behance then… where have you been? But seriously, it’s an absolute goldmine of projects from some of the most talented creatives in the world. Some of the case studies on the site are just mind blowing, so don’t visit if you want to feel better about your own work… but do visit if you want to be pushed to new creative heights. Unsplash https://unsplash.com/ This is a fantastic resource for free photography. Stock images? Who needs them, especially if your budget is, like mine, a big fat £0. Photographers from all over the world are sharing some fantastic images that are free to use (it’s good practice to include a credit if you use one). As a photographer, it’s a great way to get your images out there – you can click through to the photographers portfolios and jump onto their websites or get in touch if you want to commission them. As a designer… free images? Need I say more? Dribbble https://dribbble.com/ Another site that should be a staple for every designer out there. Dribbble is a great little resource for creatives, although it tilts heavily towards design/illustration with some web/application stuff sprinkled in there. Again, the standard of work is jaw-dropping and it’s also a great way to network and chat to your peers and design idols. Medium https://medium.com/ Not specifically a design resource, Medium is more of a blogging platform that leans towards articles. I first came across Medium when Teehan+Lax (one of my favourite design agencies ever) posted a case study of their design process for the first iteration of the Medium site. It’s evolved massively since then, and Teehan+Lax have sadly folded so the case study is no longer available, but Medium still proves a fantastic resource if you want to jump more into the why’s and how’s of design and development. I’ve learned a lot and sharpened my critical/analytical thinking by studying some of the articles, and more are being added all the time so it’s definitely a site worth checking out for any creative. Afterword And that’s it. My exhaustive list. Not! But I hope that I’ve given a little back to the design world that’s given me so much, and I hope that some of you readers have found this post helpful or inspirational. Just remember to browse the sites for a bit, and then close them down and actually do some work!
I built this website back at the very start 2015, when I was suiting up ready to take the plunge as a full-time freelance graphic designer. I wanted to provide a home for my skills, my portfolio and my thoughts, and yes, show off just a little bit. Over the past couple of years, the site served me well, securing me some freelance jobs and piquing the interest of some in the design world. I got myself some business cards with a design styled around the website, and got my head down and worked hard as a freelance graphic designer and web developer. Things were going well. Flash forward over two years - we’re now more than halfway through 2017 and my freelance career has been going well, if in fits and spurts. I’ve worked with bigger name clients and been involved in some massive projects with huge scopes and responsibilities. I made enough to live on (just, if you take off what I paid in taxes!) and was earning more annually than I had at a previous agency I worked at. In a way, the freelance dream was working out. There’s a ‘but’ coming, isn’t there? While the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself are massive bonuses, I have found that the intermittent nature of freelancing has proved tricky for me in the past year or two. Over quite a few coffees and a few late night thinking sessions, I’ve decided to put my freelance career to one side for now, and I’m looking to join a design agency to push myself to become a stronger, more flexible and more experienced professional. I have loved freelancing and worked with some incredible people over the past few years, and I don’t intend to stop freelancing completely (I’m too addicted to design for that!). But I think as I have cleared my 25th birthday, a fresh start is in order and I feel that working within a creative agency is the right step forward for me at this time. Which agency? Who knows - there are plenty to research, but design is a competitive industry so we’ll see what the future holds. So what about this site? This site isn’t going anywhere, but it’s transitioning to more of a portfolio / notebook and less of a shop-front for my freelance design services. I hope to get back into writing more (the last article I wrote was in 2015, and that was the third in total - so currently I’m averaging one article every 6 months or so!) and using this website as a place to post my portfolio pieces and design experiments. I’m sure there will be freelance projects peppered here and there. I will endeavour to keep this journal more updated and post my thoughts and experiences as I head back into employment. It’s been quite a ride over the last couple of years - here’s to the future. See you there.
Sometimes, I just can’t finish my personal projects. Many people who know me will already know this – sometimes it drives them (and me!) mad, the fact that I can sometimes endlessly tweak something. I’m pretty sure that other designers out there will immediately relate to this situation as well. I never really have this problem with client work: we set out with a brief, we hit the targets and complete the brief, polish it up, deliver it and job’s a good ‘un. It gets a little more tricky with personal projects, however, because sometimes there isn’t a finite finish point.
Buried deep in my desk cupboard are hundreds and hundreds of handwritten pages of varying shapes and sizes, and a couple of folders packed with diagrams and ideas, sketches and maps. Created by a young teenager with a burning desire to write a story, this little paper trail is mostly hidden away, forgotten until the annual ‘time-to-clear-out-the-desk’ event leads me to sit and look through all the work that I produced back then when my world was simpler and goals seemed a lot easier to reach.