Creative Inspiration From 2015 That You Don't Want To Miss

I’ve completed my first year in the professional design world. Yep, come this January, I will have finished my first year as a full-time graphic designer, and I couldn’t be happier. I had a lot of expectations coming in, but one delightful surprise was the lovely amount of things I was able to watch, listen to, and read from creatives all around the world. I didn’t come across a lot of free time as I tend to always be making, yet through Twitter, podcasts, Youtube, and a few books, I feel like I’ve been surrounded by talented individuals who continually share their incredible knowledge about creativity. For that, I am grateful. Here are some of my favorite creative inspirations from 2015:

2015’s Top Inspirational Leaders

1. Ella Luna @ellaluna

Like most of these, after seeing at tweet or listening to a podcast,  I discovered Ella Luna. Ella is a designer and writer living in the San Fran area, who has shared her personal revelation of the difference between should and must. She also started the 100-day project partnering with The Great Discontent that has sparked artists all over the world to create something and to love the process of making, rather than the finished result. Both of these have been incredibly inspiring to me this year, and I definitely recommend getting her book! It’s a quick read, and one I plan on making once every three months.

2. Casey Neistat @caseyneistat

Introduced by his daily youtube vlogs, Casey plays several roles, but above all he has been investing in finding a solution that allows the general public to create things. (Check out his latest app, Beme!) He’s a spokesperson for why gear doesn’t matter, and is a proponent of why story matters above all else. His passion for bringing creativity to all, and love for story has definitely been an influence in my creative endeavors this year.

3. Mark Manson @iammarkmanson

I most recently read an article by this guy about finding your passion. While there’s a lot of language, the message is spot on. In “Screw Finding Your Passion” he discussed how if you have to find what you enjoy, you probably won’t enjoy it. “A child does not walk onto a playground and say to herself, “How do I find fun?” She just goes and has fun.” And it’s true! We are all creating and doing something with our time, so it's not about finding our passion, it's about grabbing ahold of it and doing something with it.

4. Seth Godin @ThisIsSethsBlog

Where to even begin? Seth has written so many awesome resources, but the main one I’ve enjoyed this year has been Linchpin. It walks through what it is to be indispensable at what you do and encourages risk in what we choose to do with our time. What will you do with your potential? Seth has also spoke about creativity a couples times on the Design Observer and OnBeing. Both are seriously wonderful, take a listen.

5. Alison Croggin @alisoncroggon

On Performing Arts Hub, Alison gives a lot of insight in how a creative should have a balanced life. She discussed why burn out is happening in the arts, and what we can do to stay creative and energized. My favorite line is, “Being an artist is a way of life, and resisting burnout means looking at every aspect of how you live.” We all face burn out no matter what industry we’re in, and so if you’re after a balanced life this is the read for you.

6. John Maeda @johnmaeda

Again, where to begin?! John is a wonderful person to follow on Twitter for both personal insights and curated genius. This year, I’ve read his book on Simplicity and I love how these laws can be both for personal everyday life and applied to the world of design. His life work focuses on leadership, creativity, and business so if you like any of those areas, John is one to learn from. He also has several TedTalks that you’ll love.

7. Debbie Millman @debbiemillman

Debbie is a designer and artist who loves branding and hosts Design Matters. Design Matters hosts individuals of all backgrounds and industries, but all of them are top of their field and give insight around the creative culture. Countless other connections have been made simply by listening to the show, and thus it’s the perfect podcast to start listening to, well worth every minute! She’s even had conversations with some of those on this very list.

8. Jonathan Fields @jonathanfields

Jonathan was a lawyer, yes lawyer, and now is an award-winning author and entrepreneur. His talk with Debbie is one of my favorite talks on Design Matters. He says we must ask ourselves ‘What if I fail? What if I do nothing? What if I succeed?’ Right now he’s focusing his time on the Good Life Project which focused individuals to live a life that’s better, more engaged, and one that makes connections.

9. Brene Brown @brenebrown

I’m not sure why I hadn’t heard of her prior to recently, as her TedTalk on the power of vulnerability has the most views of them all, but since then I’ve watched and listen to anything of hers I can get my hands on. Her website is full of great resources including one of my favorites in which she talks about how vulnerability and creativity are cohesive. She’s a worldwide inspiration, and as a creative herself, one to keep an eye on.

10. Jon Wiley @jonwiley

Wiley is a designer at Google, and among his work he really focuses on the user and how design can function. He has several great videos, and continues to make one of the best design companies grow in way that betters our user experiences online.

11. Simon Sinek @simonsinek

Simon Sinek is an author and motivational speaker that is most well-known for his books, and TedTalk entitled, “How great leaders inspire action” and then later “Why good leaders make you feel safe.” What I love most about his talks is that he discussed another form of creation, that of creating leaders. He has such a unique perspective that’s worth listening to over and over again as I believe every creative is a leader in today’s world.

Favorite Quotes Of 2015

Favorite Online Resources

  1. 40 Books To Unlock Your Creativity And Get You Started On Your Life’s Best Work

  2. 7 Habits of Highly Creative Organizations

  3. Graphic Design Inspiration: 50 Amazing Designers You Should Know

  4. The Design Blog 

  5. Design Observer

  6. Red Lemon Club

  7. 99u

  8. Will Letter For Lunch

  9. Pencil vs. Pixel

  10. Design Bump

Creative Book List

Every creative should have a book in hand for moments of down time. After all, print can be a fantastic form of creation in it of itself, let alone the awesome content that lies within the pages. Here’s my current book list from this past year, and those I plan on reading into the next!

  1. The Crossroads Of Should And Must by Ella Luna

  2. How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman

  3. Brand Thinking And Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

  4. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda

  5. The Do Books: Smart Living

  6. Big Magic: Creative Living Without Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

  7. How To by Michael Bierut

  8. I Used to Be a Design Student: 50 Graphic Designers Then and Now by Billy Kiosoglou

  9. Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley

  10. Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown

  11. Color Works: Right Ways of Applying Color in Branding, Wayfinding, Information Design, Digital Environments and Pretty Much Everywhere Else by Eddie Opara

  12. 100 Quotes By Charles Eames

  13. Rising Strong by Brene Brown

  14. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

  15. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

  16. 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design by Steven Heller

  17. Make Your Mark by 99U

Inspiration for 2016

Everyone’s daily inspiration and creative community looks different, but I hope these inspiring individuals can benefit you just as they have myself. Whether it's how to live a balanced life, a good life, or understanding the function of design, or maybe it's working towards how to bring creativity to everyone, these people are there to help. Do yourself a favor, and check out what they have to say. Cheers to 2016 and the year to come!


Have some inspiration to add to the list? Please comment it below!