5 Surefire Ways to Get Inspired Today

I’ve always wanted to teach a class on how to find inspiration as a fashion designer. I’ve often thought, “How dreamy to spend my days finding and exploring what inspires me, never mind the satisfaction that would come from fostering inspiration in others.” For me, finding inspiration is the most thrilling part of what we get to do as designers.

Here’s the catch. Becoming inspired is just one part of the design process and for inspiration to turn into a collection, designers must manage designing, patterning, production, marketing and sales. So it comes as no surprise that sometimes the time needed to become truly inspired goes by the wayside with all of the other tasks necessary to make a fashion business run.

But take a moment to consider this: What makes a collection both unique and cohesive?

Every designer has his or her own voice, perspective and aesthetic. And every cohesive collection has a common thread that runs throughout. A well-developed inspiration not only provides a road map for a strong collection of garments, but it also serves as a statement about the designer him- or herself. So while time is short in the fashion industry, and one season seems to run into the next, taking time to immerse yourself in inspiration may ultimately give you a much smoother road to design and product development. Not to mention provide very important brand-building opportunities from season to season.

So what to do if you’re short on time and stuck in an inspiration rut? Give one of these quick and easy tips a try…

1. Log off.

Close your laptop. Shut down your ipad and walk away from the computer. In fact, leave your apartment, home, classroom or studio and get outside. Commit to riding the subway for an hour and people watch. Take a hike (in nature or the city) and collect “artifacts” (rocks, leaves, business cards, coasters, freebie postcards, fabric swatches). Take pics of anything too dirty to pick up, but you find interesting. Return home and spread out your findings. Look for patterns or an interesting color story. Or the item/memory that inspires more thought. Take it from there…

2. Take your dream vacation.

Ok, ok. I’m not suggesting you hop on the next plane to Bali. However, I do suggest eating foods native to your dream destination and exploring customs, public transportation maps, history and art representative of the place you’ve always wanted to travel to. Do a bit of research to find an exhibit in your area that might support your inspiration. Google Arts and Culture is a great resource as well.

3. Zoom in.

Ah, perspective. Use a mundane object that is familiar to you (golf ball, slice of bread, tire tread, etc.) and photograph it from all angles and all distances. Zoom in and out—as far as you can—and examine the textures and shapes of one object when viewed from different perspectives. Use your observations to guide fabric choices, even silhouettes for your collection. For additional inspiration, be sure to view your photographs upside down and sideways.

4. Make the old new.

Every designer should keep a process book (if you are not keeping one already, we can certainly show you how to put one together). Some of your ideas will develop into complete collections, however, more often than not, you will gather bits and pieces of inspiration that you may want to revisit at a later date. When you are in an inspiration rut, go back to your process book and see if the time is right to develop a past idea.

5. Use us as a resource.

Take the time to browse the University of Fashion site. We have so many resources to provide you with inspiration—from learning a new fabric manipulation technique to lessons on fashion history  to trend forecasting tips. And, for daily inspiration, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

And how could I forget? Our blog! Follow us right here for the latest at fashion weeks around the world, current exhibits and the most up-to-date news in the fashion industry. As always, we invite you to chime in and share your tips for getting inspired in the comments section below.

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Kara Laricks is a regular contributor to the University of Fashion. She’s also a New York based women's wear and accessories designer. As the first winner of NBC's Fashion Star, Kara has designed collections for H&M, Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue. Her masculine meets feminine line, Kara Laricks, debuted at New York Fashion Week in 2012 and her S/S 2013 collection sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue. Kara's designs have been featured on the Today Show and HBO's True Blood as well as covered in Women's Wear Daily and on Style.com. Kara holds Master's degrees in both Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Kansas and in Fashion Design from the Academy of Art in San Francisco. An educator turned designer, Kara is dedicated to supporting emerging designers and inspiring others to follow where dreams lead.