Music and design go hand-in-hand for me. Although design is used to visually communicate whereas music is something you hear, they are both ways to express yourself creatively. When I’m coming up with ideas or creating mockups of projects I’ve designed, I often find myself looking for that perfect song or artist than can get the train rolling.

These three points, of which I follow closely, really help me come up with the ideas that lead to an inspired finished product. I hope these help you as you keep yourself motivated and energized every day.

  • Listen to fresh music to inspire original designs. Almost everything nowadays has a tie-in with something pre-existing. It’s next to impossible anymore to create design that hasn’t been achieved previously. So, I always find myself listening to new and undiscovered bands to help me think differently. Their music may not always make it on the Top 40 list, but that doesn’t mean it’s not great. Listening to different types of music can shake you out of a funk and help you gain new perspective (this is great for writer’s block or a design rut). As I see it, my work may never make it onto the ”Top 40” list but I can claim a sense of originality with what I am producing.
  • More is Better? A long song with multiple styles, beats and hooks doesn’t necessarily mean it is great. The same goes for designs. If you put too many graphic elements into the design, don’t expect it to be an award winner. It will just give viewers too much to look at and leave them overwhelmed and confused. People are often looking for something simplistic to arrive at an idea or a favorite new song. Keep it simple!
  • Let the words speak for themselves. Text is huge! In both music and design, if you have great lyrics or a stellar headline, your work is guaranteed to stand out; whereas, a layout full of Lorem Ipsum and a song without any verses will be forgotten. Always be sure to get the message across as simply as possible; if the viewer or listener doesn’t understand the piece, the work will be passed up for something else.

If you’re stumped and are looking for inspiration, try listening to these songs I’ve chose from my at-work playlist:

  1. “Taro” – Alt-J
  2. “Trucks at Night” – The Cast of Cheers
  3. “Mercy” – TV on the Radio
  4. “Generator ^ Second Floor” – Freelance Whales
  5. “Origins” – Tennis
  6. “Heartbeat” – Kopecky Family Band
  7. “Home” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  8. “Going Against Your Mind” – Built to Spill

In choosing your playlist to create an original work, be sure to remember that whatever you are making needs to be understood quickly. Don’t cloud up your composition with unnecessary ideas. Most importantly, be sure to let the work speak for itself. Now get to work!

What are some songs that inspire your work?