As a creative, it’s useful to have and keep visual references as inspiration and to provoke your imagination. For me, this usually done by keeping (aka losing) a bunch of random images in my downloads folder. But this year I tried something different.
From January to December in 2020 I gathered these images (mostly through Instagram, but also via other sources) and dumped them into a Tumblr blog page as a way of making a huge moodboard. This page is now filled with images to have as a sort of online archive to look into for reference; it has also been a great way of discovery and an organic way of learning about new creatives, new artists, new brands, new perspectives and new things in general.
As a graphic designer, the kinds of things it features are what you might expect a grapihc designer to be inspired by such as visual identities, typography and other nice design things; which it does. But I am not only inspired by these things for my professional practice; in fact, these kinds of graphic design things don’t feature so often. More common are images of photography projects, fashion and footwear brands and collaborations, artworks, paintings, 3D and illustrations as well as product/industrial design, architecture along with archival film and music references.
My pool of creative inspiration to dive into is vast, metaphorically and literally. I would suggest to any creative to keep a reference bank of images like this, either in Instagram, Pinterest boards, a notes document or even just a downloads folder; the ability to quickly pull up a reference now is invaluable.
Throughout this post I have curated a selection of images from my Tumblr moodboard and grouped them into categories. Beneath this is the credit for each image linked to their page. Please check these out and discover more for yourself.
My full moodboard archive can also be found here.
Photography (header image)
My selection of photography moodboard features a nice mixture of natural, organic beauty with more harsh, industrial architecture and environments. Mixed in are some famous photographers and archival images. My favourite piece here is by Ben Richards (middle row, 3 across), who lives in Tokyo and is constantly sharing images of the city—and Japan in general—giving me a whole new perspective.
Fashion & Footwear
Fashion & Footwear features a lot of collaborations and special edition releases; things made with a concept and purpose as opposed to fast fashion. Streetwear, workwear and skatewear are my passions when it comes to fashion and thus my favourite here is the special edition releases for Carhartt WIP featuring the 1994 La Haine film typography (top row, 4 across); a match made in heaven for me. Read more about my love for Carhartt WIP here.
This collection of graphic design (also featuring typography and packaging) projects suits my personality very well and it’s something that I feel that I align to. It’s predominantly modernist inspired but not limited to this. My highlight is the Etapp Kyle – Unseen EP (top row, 7 across), released on the Berlin-based record label Ostgut Ton. The harmony between image, type and colour is beautiful and reflects much of the Ostgut Ton back-catalogue. Read more about the design of some of my favourite record sleeves here.
Art & Illustration
Art and Illustration are slightly different for me as I don’t really make ‘art’ or do illustration, but I am drawn to it. There is little similarity between much of these things here (other than the use of basketball imagery). But there is a nice mix of materials, methods and medium. My favourite here is Nikki Hock, with a piece called Latent Space (top row, 7 across). I am a believer that art—especially 3D/spacial pieces—should be experienced first hand as a multi-sensory experience and this was one of the best physical artworks I got to see this year at an exhibition.
Design & Architecture
My interests in design (as a general topic) are mainly product design/industrial design and architecture; most of which are Modernist inspired or somewhat futuristic. I love it when designers take something we know as a given and flip it through established techniques. My highlight here is the Mercedes x Virgil Abloh project titled Project Geländewagen (top row, 6 across). A slightly controversial one when it came out which definitely rubbed people up the wrong way and it was not how I pictured it looking when I heard about the collaboration happening. Nonetheless, I think the outcome is something different amongst the car design world.