When you’re dealing with creative block, you can find your flow again by discovering work that truly inspires you. We often find ourselves scrolling through graphic design portfolios to see what’s new and exciting. From commissioned work to personal projects, it’s a good way to spark the idea you’ve been waiting for.
We rounded up some of our favourite graphic design projects. This list isn’t only for graphic designers—illustrators and photographers will find some ideas worth testing out, especially when it comes to experimenting with print.
From an unusual travel guide book, to a creative coloring book, and a politically-minded postcard set, here are eight graphic design projects that will make you excited to tackle your next creative venture.
1. Unexpected pop culture inspiration
When designing a cover for architecture magazine AA, Paris-based designer Josephine Ohl found unexpected inspiration in classic films. The theme of the issue was New York, Tokyo, and Paris, so Ohl decided to represent each city with a creature: King Kong for New York, Godzilla for Tokyo, and a rooster (a traditional French symbol) for Paris. She created the images separately and silkscreened them onto the cover for a unique, handmade look. Taking the cover in this fun direction was an unexpected move that makes the magazine stand out. Pop culture references like these make for instantly recognizable and relatable imagery, and they also add an element of playfulness to a design concept.
2. Familiar logos, remixed
New Zealand designer Sara Marshall won a student design award for her tongue-in-cheek reinterpretations of popular logos. The project is funny, but it’s also a good opportunity for Marshall to show off her lettering skills, and to demonstrate that she knows how to think outside the box. If you’re in a design dry spell, creating a personal project along these lines is a great way to get back on the creative track and have something fresh to add to your portfolio.
3. A unique travel guide
Toronto design studio Fook Communications shows off a range of skills with their Berlin Travel Book, a neatly packaged little guide to Germany’s capital city. Covering travel tips from hotels to airports, this is a practically-minded project that allows the designers to demonstrate their ability to realize a published piece from cover to cover. Adding a printed project to your online portfolio is also a good way to showcase your product design skills. A physical piece like a guide book adds texture and variety to your online portfolio, and demonstrates your diverse abilities as a designer.
4. A creative coloring book
Portugal-based designer Mariana Malhao’s online portfolio is full of playful projects, but this coloring book definitely stands out. Malhao has lent her design skills to a range of projects, from jewelry to ceramics. This coloring book represents her uniquely playful style in a creative way.
Including fun projects like this one in your online portfolio shows that you’re able to come up with strong ideas outside of a set design brief, and that you excel at thinking outside the box. Design projects don’t have to be serious—creating something for kids is also a great way to show your skills. This doesn’t have to a be a printed project. A comic or conceptual drawings for a toy could also be a good example of your more playfully-minded design expertise.
5. A reinterpretation of a classic work
Graphic designer Chelsea Majuri made a creative edition of Walter Benjamin’s classic text The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Majuri’s version of the book is made up of fifteen booklets, which “each contain one of the essay’s informative chapters, making the writing both approachable and enjoyable in short windows of time,” as the designer explains. Majuri has added repeating patterns custom-designed by herself, as well as etchings by Rembrandt. These design choices relate to the ideas about reproduction of artworks expressed in Benjamin’s writing.
This project is a great choice for Majuri to show that she thinks seriously about design, as well as a good opportunity to showcase a well-made printed product. Creating a custom edition of a favorite book is a simple yet challenging way to show off your design skills. A redesign of a classic album cover could be another fun option.
6. Postcards with a message
Designer Aly Dodds created a set of charming hand-illustrated postcards with an important purpose: political action. Designed to help fellow Ohio citizens get in touch with their elected representatives, Dodds’ postcard set comes pre-addressed with the names of senators and members of congress. They were printed and distributed by her firm Karen Skunta & Company.
Dodds says of the project: “Whether it’s making a phone call, sending an email, or writing a postcard to our elected officials, we all have a personal responsibility to remind those in power that they work for us.” Advancing a cause you care about can be a great source of inspiration for a personal project.
7. Posters illustrated with the alphabet
Graphic designer Hugo Jourdan used nothing but the 26 letters of the alphabet to create a series of 26 striking minimal posters. The results provide great inspiration for how to use limited materials to create something interesting.
8. A product label that uses brand materials
American designer Wake Coulter got creative when creating a brand identity for ØsterGRO, a large urban farm on a Copenhagen rooftop. In search of a design that “visually evoked the colors and typography of Danish farmstands,” Coulter decided to use potato prints in his work. The result is a series of labels and brand materials that represent ØsterGRO’s identity in a fun and timeless way.
More on graphic design:
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