11 TIPS to get inspired and draw from imagination | Tip 143

How to get inspired and draw from imagination

Zhe Mei, Devansh S, Mya, Rodrigo O, Tilo, Forrester, John P, Tomes, Rafael asked me in the recent survey about:

How do you get inspired and draw things from imagination ?

May I share with you a quote I really like from Leigh Michaels.

“Waiting for inspiration is like standing at the airport for a train.”

In other words, inspiration is not something we get naturally. So don’t panic if you are not inspired. There is technique to get started. With experience you will get inspired faster connecting ideas.

You might have ever heard that inspiration can come from anywhere. But yet you still remain lost in front of your blank page. The reason why is that you are missing of something: the meaning. As a Designer, always remember you create things for people. It means that what you sketch and imagine need to make sense to them. As a designer you come up with things that aim to be on the market, not a museum.

Today, let me share with you 11 TIPS I use that may help you get a spark of inspiration and get started with enthusiasm and TAKE ACTION !

Plane imagination
Let your imagination fly.

1 Constraints are benefits

Think about problems and frustrations. What problems does people face you could them solve. Don’t think only by product, but services. For such approach, I recommend you guys to start drawing scenarios like a small comics where you could see people using your product. For now the shape of the product doesn’t matter yet. If you know what the product is made for, and how people are going to use them, then you got good stuff to start sketching the design of your product. TAKE ACTION >>  Fill your page of people, not product.

2 Tell a story

A designer is a STORY TELLER. Do not only think about what people need such as eating, sleeping, working… think about what do they desire, and is there personality.

Do some research about your user and find pictures of inspiration that can define him or her the best. Make some research about his story. Where does he come from ? His environment. Where does he hang out ?With who ?. What does he love and hates ? What are the values he stand for ?…

You are making a sociology research. You are not a sociologist, but an observer. Try to meet the user and know more about him. Better you know your people, better your product proposal will have chance to succeed and make sense to him. Remember that you don’t create a product that please everybody. Be sharp in your choices.  TAKE ACTION >> Identify the main character. Set up the decor, then tell a story.

3 Mind-mapping

A good idea is a network ! Say Steven Johnson in his book Where good ideas come from. “A good idea is a constellation of neurons connecting each other from thousand of forms. From there pop up ideas in your consciousness.” The brain is not made to record information but process them. TAKE ACTION >> Take notes connecting ideas till a light bulb pop up above your head.

Feel free to check out INFO SKETCHING page about taking notes with illustration. The author Dan Roam just came out with a book: Show and Tell, how everybody can make extraordinary presentations.

Dan Roam Show and tell

4 Would it be cool if ?

I love that little sentence that is actually really powerful. What attract me in that tool is that you follow your instinct. It’s an approach that you need to dig further combining it with the other tools. TAKE ACTION >> Trust yourself and be confident to propose your own ideas in public.

5 Go crazy with “What if” ?

Do not hesitate to to create unexpected association in order to provoke new idea combination defying the possible and actual codes. With that tool you are definitely going out of your comfort zone breaking the barrier of common belief. Basically, your ideas are just sketches anyway. So sketch them ! And think later about what is possible or not. Be daring and don’t think much bout technology viability yet. What if we could bring tourist in the moon ? Richard Branson and his team from Virgin Intergalactic are working on it. TAKE ACTION >> Dare. Don’t be fear of failure.

6 Change perspective

That tool is from 3 Edward de bono. It’s a technique that trick the brain.
Some of you told me that you tend to always draw the same things – your brain is like locked into a creative loop. Relax, it seams to be normal. Hehe. Edward de Bono says that the brain tend to be repetitive and rethink the things the same way like being on a loop. One way to get out of the loop is to change your point of view.  For example, there is a scene with a car. First think about yourself inside that car driving it. Imagine your environment and what you could feel. Then change your point of view, and imagine you are a girl or boy sitting on a terrace of a café looking at that car. The same scene, but totally different experience. TAKE ACTION >> Look at a situation from different point of views.

7 Be passively creative

Don’t wait for your school or company to give you project to start looking for ideas. You may in the bus, cycling or hiking… Get the freedom to explore impractical curiosities. Look at colours, patterns, forms, rust, insects, architectures, clouds ! And so on… TAKE ACTION >> Bring a camera with you, take picture and build a library of pictures.

8 Share your ideas

Multiple brains are better than one. So share your ideas and don’t be afraid of being ripped off of your ideas. Tell yourself that people may copy you, but won’t be able to follow you as you are able to get newer ideas anytime. TAKE ACTION >> Debate, communicate, enrich yourself from other people’s knowledge. 

9 Perfectionist is your enemy

Don’t let perfectionist stop you. Remember that you will produce much more and far better work with much less stress by aiming less than perfect. (Read more at 99U) I did and still go through that and I need to work on my ego.
Set before starting what is good enough. Remember you are a designer so you aim to be professional and productive. Make sure that M. Perfectionist doesn’t delay your work and that you can deliver on time to your client. M. Perfectionist will try to convince you  to spend 3 more days of intensive work for minor details that the client may not even notice. I don’t say don’t to great job, but be pragmatic. Make sure to keep up your energy level and be able to carry on the project after validation (or not validation). TAKE ACTION >> Identify what is good enough and stick to it.

10 “Peak of creativity” time

Along the day, our body is not equally efficient. Try to identify the moment of the day you are the most creative. And work at that time if possible. Some writers like to wake up at 6 am when everybody sleep and when the world is quite to create.  TAKE ACTION >> During that time frame. Isolate yourself and create with no interruption. (No social media, no phone)

11 Take a break

If you tank of ideas is empty .Sometime, you just need to take a break. Go out, meet your friends, go and see movies… Live ! Your tank will refill of new data. Then carry on your project. TAKE ACTION >> Relax 🙂

There is multiple ways to start a project. Start with the one you feel the most comfortable with. You will get more results and enjoy getting more ideas. Suddenly sketching will become more fun as you give meanings to your creation. You will also love explaining your ideas and answer people when they ask you questions about your project.

Don’t be shy, let me know your questions and tell us the techniques you use to find inspiration !

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About The Author


If the sketching methods I’ve acquired aid me in my life and in my career, I believe that they can also help you to learn, and help you with your projects. Whether Design is a job or a hobby it doesn’t matter, so long as you do what is important to you.


  • renata

    Reply Reply September 5, 2015

    yea thats cool to take a train at the airport! ;-))

    • Chou-Tac

      Reply Reply September 5, 2015

      Eheeh I guess it’s the RER B from CDG. =P

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