One Percent Inspiration

Peyton Crump, Former Design Director

Article Category: #Design & Content

Posted on

Andy Rutledge, in his recent (imagine this) hardline post On Inspiration, says (among other things) that:

Our designer culture habitually applies the terms inspiration (or inspired) as a shibboleth for anything deemed worthwhile ... our online culture is choked to the gills with "sources of inspiration."

While I tend to soften hard lines and I'm not down with everything Andy is saying elsewhere in the article, the prior quotes are ones I appreciate. Here are a few more thoughts that Andy puts forward that I can agree with:

Inspiration Is

  • Inspiration is easily cheapened and sold via designer hyperbole.
  • Inspiration is exuded in action, not just talk, not just observation.
  • Inspiration is different than motivation and less easy to come by.

Inspiration Is Not

  • Inspiration is not the feeling you get when you like someone's design.
  • Inspiration is not a requirement, it's a bonus.
  • Inspiration is not simply paying attention to things other people ignore or can't grasp.


Meeting with Inspiration

I couldn't help but be reminded of Edison's quote that "genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Perhaps Edison would also say that design (as well as genius)  is less about inspiration and more about a whole lot of other things that don't get their due credit.

Perhaps, but if that's the case, how might we still meet with inspiration on those rare instances? Andy says "I have no idea" while the Viget design team simply says "Visit our blog. I mean look at its name." Pause. Anyway, I'll buy that inspiration isn't simply something to be gained or stumbled upon or hoarded among our tag groups. Maybe it's a bit more elevated, a bit more divine than we make it out to be.

Another Definition

While there wasn't extensive thought around our blog's name or a team consensus on what our definition of inspiration is, I imagine we'd define it more like this:

Arousal of the mind to unusual activity or creativity. Elevated intuition as a part of solving a problem.

This certainly makes inspiration a bit more accessible, more easy. Ultimately, I guess it does come down to how you define it ... but I do like the idea of having some, even if it's only once in a while.

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