On waiting for inspiration

by Kelly Hobkirk

Graphic designers are often stereotyped as emotional artists, waiting for inspiration to strike to fuel brilliant ideas. For many, I suppose it’s accurate, otherwise the stereotype would not have come to be. Most times, however, I can’t afford to wait for inspiration. Instead we have strategy development and design processes that manifest inspiration seemingly at will.

People ask, ‘What inspires you?’ Many things inspire me. Fractals, photosynthesis, children, animal nature, reading, thoughts, dreams, people.

People ask me how I developed my strategic process? Mostly, I developed it by listening to people. Hillman Curtis wrote a great piece about strategy in his MTIV book some years back. I recall seeing how similar it was to my own process. He put a visual to it that made sense, so I added that.

Listening to people talk about their vision reveals patterns over time, from which I’ve devised strategy development processes. I try tweaking them slightly once every year or two, and always change them on the fly to meet the needs of each client. Strategy is my most inspiring tool.

Without the people, though, I would have no need for strategy. You can’t use one without the other. Fortunately, people often come equipped with a sense of purpose, and strategy is the first step on the way to fulfilling that purpose. Once we do a session, we can begin writing and designing something great that helps them reach their goals.

If I had to wait for inspiration to clobber me in order to proceed on any given project, I would have long ago croaked from the waiting. Instead, I employ strategy to manifest inspiration.

Graphic design is driven by inspiration, but inspiration driven by artistic sense has little value in business. Graphic design has the power to infuse marketing with a visually compelling sense of purpose. But business can’t wait for inspiration to strike. We have to manifest inspiration to keep pace with business needs.

Waiting for inspiration inspires, well, waiting. Strategy, on the other hand, inspires great work. What inspires you?

Posted by Kelly Hobkirk • November 7, 2012 • Tags: ,