Have you ever found yourself at the start of a new project, spending hours on Pinterest desperately seeking inspiration that speaks to your unique style? But, all you can find is trendy design after trendy design? Yeah, me too.

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Unless your style is aligned with what’s trendy in the creative business community right now (light, bright and airy, or watercolor), you know that it can be challenging to source visual inspiration that fits your vibe.

So what do you do? When I get started with a new client, I search slightly outside of the box. Even if you’re not a designer, design matters in your business and you’re probably “designing” almost daily. (Picking an on-brand Instagram filter counts!) That said, I think everyone should have a couple back-pocket strategies for finding visual inspiration for yourself, or to hand off to a designer.

Whether your style is dark and grungy, bold and modern, fun and whimsical, or totally bizarre, this post will tell you exactly how to get started.

Here are three out-of-the-box ways to seek unique design style inspiration:

  • Eliminate your industry from search terms. Instead of searching for “photography” + “websites”, search for the specific item you want to be inspired to create (i.e. logo, website, brochure). Then, add an element of your style (i.e. bold, dark, traditional). Instead of scrolling for hours only to find “industry standard” inspiration, search something like “funky” + “logo” and get inspired to shine. Don’t be afraid to look for design inspiration outside of your industry, or outside of the specific project you’re working on.

    Compare the search results below:

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Obviously, the results are very different because we searched different things (duh). Even if you don’t want a dark website design, just using those search terms brought up some really amazing results.

  • Move your search to Behance. Many of the designers on this portfolio site are not business-focused artists, so they’re not hanging out much on Pinterest (at least, not to the extent that “entrepreneurial” creative are, anyway). You can search for the same stuff you normally would on Pinterest or any other popular site, and you’ll probably wind up with a totally refreshing sea of style inspiration.

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  • Assess your style in real life, or the style in your “dream” real life. Come on, I know you’ve got your fantasy kitchen all planned out, even if it’s only in your head. Make your own “my style mood board” by pinning interior design images, outfit inspiration — even quotes that speak to you. If you’re working to craft a streamlined brand image, this exercise can be a game-changer.

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Now that you know some of the best out-of-the-box ways to find unique style inspiration, you’re ready to dive into your next project without having to waste hours scrolling watercolor after watercolor.

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