Unexpected Inspiration for Digital Design: Overcoming “Blank Canvas Syndrome”

Let’s face it, designers and creatives have really fun jobs. See why here – after reading this article of course…  We get to determine the visual stylings of companies through various media. We get to play with fonts, colors, tones and supporting graphics that relay the company’s brand message.

But sometimes, with all of the endless possibilities, designers often get what’s called “Blank Canvas Syndrome,” or the overwhelming sense of unlimited potential in a composition rendering the designer motionless at the site of a blank Illustrator or Photoshop canvas.

Well have no fear my tattooed, flannel-shirt-wearing, beard-growing, coffee-pounding, iPhone-carrying design colleagues. I’m here to give you some suggestions to get you out of that terrorizing BCS rut.

Package Design


* Photo Credit: TheDieline.com

One of my favorite places to look for inspiration outside of web design is in the world of package design. I love seeing really well-designed product packages because, if you think about it, there are a lot of similarities to web design. Customers are basing their perception of comparative brand strength on visual messaging alone within the first 5 seconds, so a really strong, creative, “out of the box” (pun intended) design is crucial to win over potential customers.

Places like TheDieline.com and CreativeBloq.com are great places to start. Take note from these excellent examples font usage, color choice, playfulness of tone, and the use of product photography.

Interior Design

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* Photo Credit: Houzz.com

Okay, this one is a little more of a stretch, but stay with me here. Interior design is all about curves (or lack thereof), balance in positioning and boldnessof elements, and functionality in placement. All of these aspects can be correlated to digital design. Pay attention to how well the interior designer balances larger, bulkier items around smaller, daintier pieces and how colors and textures are used to convey tone and energy.

Check out Houzz.com or Freshome.com for some examples of some really great interior design

Music & Paper


* Photo Credit: Spotify.com

Lastly, one of the most helpful exercises when experiencing BCS is putting on your favorite headphones (if you’re in a creative studio like me and have other designers in close proximity) or cranking your speakers up to desk-rattling levels with your favorite playlist OR a great band that you don’t normally listen to. Who knows, it may unlock some design powers you never knew you had. While jamming out, grab a pen or pencil and start writing and sketching whatever the hell comes to mind, no idea is a bad idea at this point.

Music has this inexplicable ability to alter your capacity for creativity, so it’s through exercises like this that innovative ideas are formed.

The Takeaway

I hope these uncommon inspirational design channels are enough to help you conquer your Blank Canvas Syndrome. If you have any others (SFW suggestions please), feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Now get back to kicking creative ass!


* Featured Image found on Houzz.com