There’s one little bullet point at the end of my job description that reads: Participate in curation of digital displays, and use social media tools and outlets for promotion of library resources, collections, and services. I love graphic design and take every opportunity to flex my Photoshop muscles, but I know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Whether it’s in your job description or not, at some point you’ll find yourself designing a research poster, slide deck, workshop flyer, social media banner, or book display. When the time comes, here’s a list of resources that are guaranteed to help conquer design anxiety.
Creating a color palette is not my strong suit, so I rely on the web to find inspiration. My favorite site right now is the Swiss Style Color Picker. It’s quality over quantity, so you won’t find a ton of options, but the presentation is flawless and interactive too. Click on your color of choice and it automatically copies the hexadecimal code to your clipboard.ICONS
Icons are the new clipart! The Noun Project is a massive collection of graphics that you can use for free if you properly attribute the designer. You can download an image file or vector graphic; which means you can scale it up or down without losing quality.
Do I need to say it? Pinterest is perfect for this kind of thing. Whenever I start a project, the first thing I do is create a Pinterest board to find a general direction for my design. If you simply browse through the Graphic Design category, you’re sure to find plenty of inspiration.FONTS
There are plenty of places to find free fonts online, but I’m partial to DaFont. It’s easy to browse their categories (sans serif, calligraphy, typewriter, etc.) and you can enter your own custom text to preview multiple typefaces at once. Biko and Angelface are my current favorites.SHAPES
Designing with simple shapes can be very effective. Philographics: Big Ideas in Simple Shapes by Genis Carreras is a perfect example of what’s possible when you pair up, duplicate, and overlap shapes. The result can be stronger than an image and easier to manipulate.IMAGES
Just in case you missed all the commotion, the New York Public Library just released a whole heap of public domain images on their Digital Collections site. If you’ve ever tried to play by the rules when using images you find online, you know it’s an uphill battle. Not to worry, there’s plenty of gems here. And just when you think it can’t get any sweeter; they’ve even curated a collection with designers in mind.
And sometimes I use all of these resources in tandem. Case in point, the collage I used to kick off this post was created using “Clark, Madeline” from the NYPL Digital Collections, “MERS#3, Seoul Metropolitan Library” from Flickr user Tai-Jan Huang, and “Book” by David Marioni from the Noun Project.
Where do you find design inspiration?
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I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of The Non-Designer’s Design Book (which is exactly what it says on the tin, and does a great job breaking things down into simple, concrete rules for people like me who have no design intuition).
There’s a ton of sites that suggest good font pairings (easy to google for). And http://design-seeds.com/ has a bunch of preselected color palettes that you can browse by theme or search by color (in case like me you also can’t match colors to save your life).
And, of course, for web design, frameworks like Bootstrap and Foundation do a good job of incorporating layout & typography knowledge, so you can look like you know those things even if you don’t.
At my level of talent & skill it’s less about “coming up with great design” and more about “producing something reasonably professional and non-embarrassing” – but it turns out there are a lot of free resources to make that possible! Yay! Thanks, internet.
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