Creative inspiration for 2020

Posted on January 20, 2020 by Sarah Robertson

Looking for some creative inspiration to see you through 2020 and beyond? In our first blog of the new year, we reflect back on the last decade and share 20 things that have influenced and supported us in our business.

Do Book Co Do Book Co, Photo Credit: Helena Dolby

Books we love

  • Do Design – Why beauty is key to everything by Alan Moore
    We’re HUGE fans of the independent publishing house, Do Book Co. And it wasn’t easy to choose just one read from the many we’ve devoured over the years. Favourites include Do Disrupt by Mark Shayler and Do Fly by Gavin Strange, and Sarah loves The Wellness Library Sarah which includes Do Design. With life moving at such a fast pace, it’s easy for things to pass us by, and the author of Do Design, Alan Moore, invites us to rethink not only what we produce but how and why. If you’d like to improve your creative process it’s a must-read.
  • Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
    Struggling with information overload? Feeling overworked and unproductive? Essentialism demonstrates how to achieve what Greg McKeown calls “the disciplined pursuit of less”. The book and its tools really challenged our way of thinking and helped us shift from a mindset of trying to do it all to direct our energy towards what really matters in our life and work.
  • How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul by Adrian Shaugnessy
    Sarah was gifted this book by a friend when she set up her first studio. More than 10 years ago! And it’s an incredible read, a guide for the design profession, which has continued to provide creative inspiration. A worthwhile book to have on your shelf if you want to know how expressive and meaningful work can be done while making a living.
  • The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
    Jonathan picked this book up many moons ago and has listened to the audio version twice in the last few years. Whether your dream is to escape the 9 to 5, travel while you earn a living or simply work less, it offers a step-by-step guide. The main takeaways for us have been building the confidence to outsource and to travel, both of which have given our family more freedom.
  • Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far Stefan Sagmeister
    This was first released in 2008, but Stefan Sagmeister has been a constant influence over the years and, seeing him speak live at Graphic Design Festival Scotland in 2019, his enthusiasm for design is as strong as it’s ever been. ‘Beauty’ was an outstanding talk, which challenged the statement “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and demonstrated how we all identify with a “universal beauty”. A stunning presentation of ideas. His latest book of the same name was published in 2018 and uncovers the many ways that ‘Beauty’ can impact our lives. If you’re curious to learn more, check out his TED talks.

Creatively Human was the first-ever podcast series that Sarah religiously tuned into, listening to one episode after the other.

Podcasts offering creative inspiration

  • The Tim Ferris Show
    As business partners, this was the first podcast series that we listened to together. We’d tune in on our way to meetings or when travelling long distances, and occasionally we’d absorb them independently then regroup to talk about what we could bring to the business. Tim interviews design industry heavyweights as well as successful entrepreneurs and filmmakers, which makes for a varied and exciting podcast series.
  • Creatively Human by Ruth Poundwhite
    Creatively Human was the first-ever podcast series that Sarah religiously tuned into, listening to one episode after the other, and so we can’t miss it off our list of favourites. Recorded for online business owners and creatives, Ruth Poundwhite shares a mixture of conversations that dive into the struggles and wins we face, plus solo episodes where she dives into her own experience of creativity and entrepreneurship.
  • The Joe Rogan Experience
    Joe Rogan, an actor, comedian and commentator, features a wide range of nonconforming guests on his show, each with their own interesting and sometimes radical views on life and the experiences it can offer. The show makes for fun listening with many laugh-out-loud moments given Joe’s comedic background, and it’s underpinned by often serious subject matter that some podcast hosts might be too afraid to cover! Not for the faint-hearted.
  • Letters from a Hopeful Creative by Jen Carrington & Sara Tasker
    Listening to Creatively Human led Sarah to this podcast, which was created for those who are ready to ‘dive deep, dream big, and do life and business on their own terms every step of the way’. It’s was created by Jen Carrington, and Sara Tasker and the format gives them a real connection with their audience as they answer letters from a hopeful creative each week.
  • Grow With Soul by Kayte Ferris of Simple & Season
    We discovered this podcast in December 2019 and listened to the coaching style episodes over the festive season. It offers up inspiration in the form of finding purpose, understanding marketing, and learning about your customers. We’ve found the format particularly helpful and try to apply each episode to our own business, which means we’re learning something new and challenging ourselves each time we tune in.
The DO Lectures The DO Lectures

Blogs & newsletters we learn from

  • The DO Lectures
    It was hard to find a specific place in the list for The DO Lectures as they’ve created everything from a programme of talks and workshops through to a shop and podcast, not to mention their annual event! We first experienced the brand when we ventured down to Cardigan in Wales for the ‘How to Build a Great Brand’ workshop with David Hieatt and we’ve been subscribing to their regular newsletter, Chicken Shed Chronicles, ever since.
  • Futurism
    The mission of Futurism is to curate and share the news, products and stories of tomorrow. A daily digest containing highlights from designers, developers, researchers and scientists, Jonathan loves the wide-ranging articles which feature current and future technologies. To see a snapshot of the content, they share check out The Byte.
  • Weekly Letters by Jen Carrington
    Every Sunday, Jen shares her Weekly Letters, and Sarah often uses the content as journaling prompts to explore ideas that might help us to solve problems in the studio. We’ve recently invested in her digital download ‘Homecoming: A Guided Journal‘, which encourages business owners to dive deep and find a home within their work. For us, it’s a chance to uncover what we want from studio and family life in 2020.
  • Scrapbook Chronicles by The Hiut Denim Company
    Hiut Denim got the town of Cardigan in Wales making jeans again. Founded by the husband and wife team behind The Do Lectures,  Clare and David Hieatt wanted to bring manufacturing back home and breathe new life into their town. Once a week, they send out their ‘Scrapbook Chronicles’ newsletter with creative ideas that inspire.
  • Peter Diamandis
    Peter Diamandis encourages people to upgrade their mindset with his insights on abundance, entrepreneurship and technology, which he shares on his blog and weekly newsletter. He’s the author of Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think and BOLD – How to go Big, Create Wealth & Impact the World. His newest book The Future is Faster Than You Think will be released on 28th January 2020 and is top of Jonathan’s reading list!

Described as an all-in-one workspace, Notion is seriously beginning to simplify the way we operate and communicate.

Apps & tools that support us

  • Notion
    Towards the end of 2019, we introduced some new software to the studio. Described as an all-in-one workspace, Notion is seriously beginning to simplify the way we operate and communicate. We plan to share more about the benefits over the coming months, but already we can see the value having combined three separate pieces of software (for project management, messaging and notes) into one.
  • Instagram
    Sarah uses Instagram personally and professionally, and it’s connecting her with many of the people we’ve shared in this roundup. A visual social media tool, it’s used by most design agencies to share their projects, but it’s so much more than this. It can be used for research to gather inspiration from other business-led accounts or to collaborate with clients and peers.
  • FreeAgent
    We’ve touched on FreeAgent in our ‘behind the scenes’ series, where we explored how we manage the day-to-day running of the studio. The software is designed for small businesses and enables you to manage your finances from anywhere. To keep us in check financially, we combine FreeAgent with DryRun for cashflow forecasting, and we also use spreadsheets to keep an eye on project budgets.
  • Pinterest
    One of the most useful aspects of Pinterest is the ability it gives us to create mood boards, quickly and easily, and share them with clients to make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to branding and digital design projects. It’s also an excellent hub for finding business courses and workshops, as well as sharing your own content and expanding your reach.
  • InVision
    This tool is used by some of the world’s largest companies, and for good reason! Designed to support creatives with prototyping, reviewing and commenting on concepts, InVision supports our workflow, saves time and resources and enables us to stay on top of timescales and budgets. We can seamlessly communicate with clients as well as designers and developers if we’re collaborating with others on projects. And the inclusion of animation features also offers a clear way to present designs. We wouldn’t be without it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the many things that have inspired us over the last 10 years in our design business. Why not sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly creative inspiration from the studio? On signing up, you’ll receive our ‘mini brand guide’, and our ‘mini-website audit’ will be hitting inboxes at the end of January 2020.