I’m a writer, not a designer, and when I have a creative block, the best cure is usually to just start writing. I may write pages and pages of crap, but eventually I’ll start to write something good again. That said, as a writer, reading the good writing of others is always helpful. For designers, it’s no different. Looking at good design will only help to inspire you to be better in your own design work. So below are 15 places to turn to for design inspiration.
CSS galleries are a dime a dozen, so only a couple made it to our list of inspirational sites for designers. Unmatched Style is one of the best, in our opinion. The designs are always beautiful, and users are encouraged to rate and comment on them. If you’re interested in other web design galleries, then check out the Web Gallery List, which lists over 200 of them.
FactoryJoe Flickr Stream
Open source advocate Chris Messina, aka “factoryjoe,” has one of the best Flickr streams to follow for designers. He’s constantly updating with screenshots of user interfaces, application designs, design elements, user interaction flows, and more. It’s an awesome place to dig through examples of what to do and what not to do when designing a page or an application.
Founded in 2000, DeviantArt is likely the largest art and design showcase site on the Internet. According to Wikipedia the site has had over 62 million submissions and is receiving new ones at a clip of 80,000 per day. Suffice it to say, there is a lot of great art, photography, and design to sort through for inspiration.
ColourLovers is a community of people who love color. Users share color ideas, palettes, and patterns on the site, making it an ideal place to draw inspiration for web design projects. Adobe runs a similar web site called Kuler.
As we said, there are a ton of web design galleries from which to draw inspiration, but LogoPond is one of the few galleries out there dedicated to logo design. The site offers up a huge number of amazing logos that can help to get your creative juices flowing.
CSS Zen Garden
CSS Zen Garden is one of the most inspiring design showcases because every page in the showcase is really the same. Starting with the same basic HTML, designers modify the CSS and images of the actual CSS Zen Garden site to create amazing, and original new versions.
The only other traditional design gallery on our list, Web Creme makes it for being discerning. It’s not easy to get a site on Web Creme, and we can see why. This highly moderated site only selects the best of the best designs.
Pattern Tap is an interface gallery. It focuses on organized collections of design elements like comment display styles, breadcrumbs, buttons, and 404 pages. It’s a great place to get inspiration for the sometimes under appreciated nitty-gritty bits of web design.
CG Society Gallery
CG Society is home to some of the absolute best 3D artists in the world. Their gallery forums provide both gorgeous finished works, and mind blowing works in progress that allow you to see how these talented people put together their masterpieces. It is inspiring stuff, trust us.
What Delicious is to links, FFFFound is to images. The image bookmarking site is a veritable treasure trove of amazing photography and design work, collected by a membership that has impeccable taste.
Josh Spear’s blog is about trends. Spear has built a business around his good taste and the taste of those who work for him, and often times the stuff they dig up is amazing to look at. The art, design, products, and web sites that Spear and his writers link to are definitely worth checking out for artistic inspiration.
Stock design elements site Veer offers a great Ideas site to give designers inspiration. Especially of note, check out “Lightboxing,” their version of Photoshop tennis, and the wallpapers gallery.
Moodstream is an experimental site from Getty Images, the world’s largest stock imagery company, that mashes up video, images, and music to create a background scene that’s supposed to help creative types brainstorm. Users can tweak variables to change the experience (i.e., black and white or color, lyrics or instrumentals, happy or sad, etc.). “What is Moodstream? It’s a concepting tool. The modern version of the fireplace. An interactive art piece. TV for the future,” said designer Rick Webb of The Barbarian Group, who created Moodstream for Getty.
The curated gallery at Behance is an amazing collection of artistic works. From product design, to print, to photography, to video advertising work, Behance’s gallery pages have it all. The site routinely presents hand-picked, curated collections from top names in the design field — including one from the aforementioned Josh Spear.
Function: Logo Redesign Blog Post
Yes, okay, this is a blog post and not a site. But it’s a very good post to check out for anyone experiencing creative block. Very often designers are asked to update someone else’s old design, rather than start from scratch with something new. This blog post from design firm Function illustrates 50 updates of products, web sites, and logos that were able to add a refreshed style to an old design.
Josh Catone joined Mashable in May 2009 and is Executive Director of Editorial Projects. Before joining Mashable, Josh was the Lead Writer at ReadWriteWeb, the Lead Blogger at SitePoint, and the Community Evangelist at DandyID.