Inspiration – a feeling of enthusiasm you get to spark new and creative ideas – comes in all shapes and forms and differs for each individual, based on their personality, profession, hobbies, and interests. As a team of creative professionals, we each find inspiration in unique ways. Here’s a peek at what inspires Roxy Bartz, FUEL senior visual designer.
“What inspires me?” I think a better question might be… “What doesn’t inspire me?” I don’t believe the creative brain ever turns off.
For example, I’ll paint a scene for you from a pre-COVID day at the FUEL office. Take a walk with me…
Heading to lunch, stopped by a purse: I’m standing up from my desk about to head out to lunch. When I scan the room, there’s Jackie to the right, a new bag on her desk. It’s so elegant and “high fashion,” I guess. Completely monochromatic with a subtle texture. So simple and subtle, but I want to pick it up and feel it with my own hands. It’s funny how I can imagine carrying a purse like this would give you confidence. Then…
Pumped up kicks: Ed walks by with some fresh new kicks. They’re a simple canvas of all white, but they grab your attention because he’s wearing all black. I think about contrast and how, without ever saying a word, it tells you exactly where to look.
A lesson in abstraction: Almost out the door, I pass by Georgia doodling a plant at her desk. But it’s not a literal doodle, it’s scribbles hinting at the literal form. I think about abstraction and how our minds only need the “essence” of something to fill in the gaps and complete the image or the idea. I think abstraction makes us focus on the true purpose of something – how it functions, why it exists.
Cloud Theory: I’m out the door under the sun. The clouds are busy. I’m watching them breaking apart and coming together, forming shapes that turn into actual figures. All it takes is one more cloud to create a whole new shape that is somehow vastly different than before. Boats. Michelangelo. My lunch. Man, I’m so hungry…
Main Street curb appeal: Walking to the restaurant, I notice all the architecture. The juxtaposition of a bank beside a bar. Expensive corporate stone versus small business brick. How they change when the sun hits them or take on a different feel when fairy lights are hanging in the trees above them.The experience is new even when the buildings are unchanged, all because of light.
The art of eateries: Then, the restaurants. They’re all meant to create an invitation, but their choices of logos and typefaces on the windows and over the door always make me wonder: What do they mean by that? How did they choose that symbol or pick those colors? What’s working, what’s not, and what would I, personally, do differently?
Sushi + design principles: Inside my favorite sushi restaurant, my attention goes to the energy of the space and the menu design. The color scheme of the walls and furniture and the materials that make up the floor, the tables, the chairs. Is it stained wood, checkered tile, metal, or iron? How do those choices of textures affect my experience or stimulate me? And then there’s the menu to think about. I study the flow and whether or not it makes sense to me, and if my eye is guided from one element to the next, or if everything looks thrown on the page. I note spacing and font selection and whether or not the color choices make the words more or less legible and if the quality of printing correlates to the quality of food and service. (Does that sound crazy?)
Scene 8: Back in the office, my head’s spinning with ideas. Just experiencing texture, contrast, perspective, function, lighting, angles, color, and the many other details in the span of an hour, I realize I’m really just processing principles. Why something is beautiful, distracting, calming, strategic. Why it’s effective and how I can replicate that in my own design.
I remember a breakthrough at a Griz concert once. I was dancing with my friends when I suddenly spotted an interesting logo, something similar to what I was currently working on but unable to crack. But the logo across the crowd had the solution: an angle I hadn’t tried yet. I literally froze before running through the crowd to get a photo. This was a total light bulb moment and I wasn’t going to let it get away.
Someone once told me to observe everything and limit yourself to nothing. If you can think it, then you should be able to create it. Easier said than done because you definitely need the right skills and thought process, but that’s exactly my goal: to take in everything I see and question the reasoning and purpose behind it all. Learning from what has already been created and using that as fuel for other creative work or outlets. A few people have said I have far too many hobbies to master any of them, and this may be true, but I also love being able to experience as much as possible. Diversity of experience helps me stay on my toes as a designer and creates so much value. It’s what allows me to wake up knowing that I’ll be able to create something that provides an actual solution for someone’s brand and help grow their business.
My 5 personal tips to get the creative juices flowing:
- Talking ideas out with coworkers or even just friends and family. Being able to bounce ideas off others and have brain blast sessions that get us excited about a project really gets me pumped and ready to work. Sometimes you need others to help jump start you with words and ideas that they have, and then you are able to make your own creation come to life.
- Learning new skills and tools. Making sure I am able to create whatever I want whenever I want is very important to me. It also keeps things fresh and exciting by being able to learn a new skill and later use that skill on a project that ends up turning out really cool.
- Listening to music and having a good beat while working. It helps me get in the groove of whatever I am designing. It’s like I am creating a music video and bringing to life these creations of art through music. Music is a mood changer… if I am down or in a slump with my work, a good tune can turn that right around, and I am back and working again in no time.
- Pinterest and the beautiful world of the Internet are wonderful inspirations. I love getting on Pinterest and seeing what’s out there and how I can incorporate little portions of what others have done into a certain project. There are soooo many good designs out there, and trying to compete with everyone else who is creating things can be daunting. But I find it’s like we are all working together; I use their creative stuff to help me create even more and vise versa. Creativity is a never-ending cycle of creation. There is nothing completely “new”; the world has been creating and designing wonderful things since ever.
- Sometimes you just have to clear your mind with a workout. Oddly enough, I easily get overwhelmed with all these simulations of the computer and designs bombarding me. The afternoon workout often clears my mind. I almost feel like I have to wear myself out so I’m so tired that my natural instincts can kick in. I am a thinker and overanalyze everything that I do, so sometimes the best medicine is to clear all that out and just start fresh and clean. Exhaustion = Creation. Ya feel me?