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How to spark inspiration

Tips on how to come up with great creative ideas time and time again

Illustration by Roseanna Courtney

Ideas are the currency of the creative industry. So what sparks them, and how does inspiration strike? Whether you’re looking for pointers to give you the edge in a big pitch, or working through a New Blood brief, we asked Chloe Templeman, Creative Director at design agency DesignBridge, Glenn Kitson, owner of creative studio The Rig Out, and Pip Jameson, founder of The Dots, a professional network for creatives, on how they come up with enviable ideas, why collaborating can yield better creative solutions and where to look for inspiration.

So, how do you have ideas?

I like the classic ways, like a good-old mind map. Do it quickly, don’t judge yourself too much or think you have to wait for a great idea to write it down – just get it all down and build on it. Come at the brief from a different perspective, or think about it in a different way. A different start point is always good to make sure you've really stretched your thinking and not just come up with similar ideas.
– Chloe Templeman, Creative Diector at DesignBridge

You're not going to believe this, but I honestly get my best ideas in the shower at the gym. If you saw the state of me you'd question how often I actually am at the gym. But it's true. I should really go to the gym more.
– Glenn Kitson, owner of The Rig Out

Creativity is often a team sport – you can be a creative rockstar but if you’re not supported by an amazing team, that idea is hard to bring to life. I love nothing more than collaborating with my team to come up with ideas and solutions.
Pip Jamieson, Founder of The Dots

Where do you look for inspiration?

At DesignBridge, we try to do project kick-offs outside work to really get people in the zone as a team. If we can we go to where the product is made, talk to the people who own and love the brand, or do research in person – it’s amazing where inspiration can come from. It’s too easy nowadays to rely on the internet for divine inspiration to come to you. Get out there!
– Chloe Templeman

How do you go from inspiration to idea?

Well, it's the creative process – research and inspiration. Development of ideas. Refinement and craft. You have to dig deep into the problem at the beginning and find that wee gem of an idea to spring board into something big. A truth you can then develop and craft into something beautiful. Feed your eyes and your senses and creative things start to happen. 
– Chloe Templeman

How do you know if you have a good original idea?

Our ideas often stand on the shoulders of those that come before, but unless you’re slightly scared of putting your idea out into the world, then you’re not pushing yourself hard enough – or you’re just copying someone else!
– Pip Jameson

What if I run of ideas?

I used to worry I'd use up all my good ideas and one day run out! But it doesn't seem to work like that. Being a creative person means you're continually inspired by everything you see and always thinking of new ideas and sketching down random thoughts when they come to you. I love that fear when you first get a brief and you think you don’t have any ideas, then you just start and somehow the ideas come and in the end you always crack it. Ideas come from everywhere and anything. Your mind stores things up, that illustrator you love, the books you’ve read, the thing that person once said, that sign you walked past and clocked, and an idea can hit you at any time.
– Chloe Templeman

What's the first thing you do when you receive a brief?

I'll get a brief in and chat to people about it, talk it over with the people I work with, digest it. The answer is usually within the brief itself.
– Glenn Kitson

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