How I collect design inspiration from luxury bags
One thing I've learned over my years as a designer, is that inspiration can really hit from anywhere, and at anytime! ✨
Conversely, I can't just sit down and decide to be creative - if I don't invest in creativity constantly, I find it that much harder to come up with concepts and designs.
This is why, one of the key parts of my design arsenal is the concept of a Creativity Library.
Wait, whats a library of creativity?
Simply put, my Creativity Library is a collection of things that spark my brain in visual ways. Its an ongoing quest for me to capture interesting-looking things that I can get inspiration from later.
My Library includes lots of Pinterest collections, where I collect things like:
I also have specific Illustrator files and libraries that I maintain, which have things like colour and pattern swatches, and sets of vectors, that I've collected over the years.
Finally, I have a ton of Dropbox folders, all organised within an inch of their lives, which hold my collections of things like stock photos and iconography references.
All of these things make up my Creativity Library - an easily browsable, must-have way to spark creativity and inspiration when I'm in design mode.
As you might imagine, this library of things takes both maintenance and also constant vigilance for new things to add to it! I love finding obscure, random or interesting things that I think will make good additions...
Some key places I draw much of my creativity from are films, music and of course, fashion! Fashion is one of the longest-running art forms that we have, and one of the most fun to indulge in!
Most recently, I've been taking inspiration from the world of luxury handbags! Not only are they oh-so-pretty, but the colourways, structures, textures and lines used vary greatly and make for compelling study.
In this post, I'll walk through a case study of how I harness inspiration from something abstract like the concept of handbags!
Building the collection
One of my favourite things to do is scroll the bags section on Farfetch to look at all the pretty handbags that I wish I could have in my life 😅
As I scroll, its a quick switch to "inspiration gathering mode" as my brain recognises that bags are a good place to draw inspiration from.
Up first is collecting the inspiration. I often save images of bags that I think are interesting to a specific Inspiration folder on Dropbox.
Here's an example of some recent bag imagery that I saved from Farfetch into my Dropbox folder:
Once the collection is big enough, I plan 30mins to an hour to go through the folder to harness the inspiration from it. I usually focus on one or two facets of the collection at once. In the case of handbags, I focus on colours and shapes.
Colours form a huge basis of my Creativity Library. I love finding and saving new colour combos that I could reuse later.
It's so much fun to do this with bags because of the amazing shades that they're often produced in.
The main thing I do here is place the images of the bags into an Illustrator file and then using the Eyedropper tool, source the colours from the bags to save to colour swatches.
This is great to simply harness all the colours that I like, but you can also go a step further and utilise this process to find colours that are complimentary of each other and would work well together in a collection.
To find good colour combos, I'd rearrange the bags and colours to find great combos like this grey/purple one:
Or the pink gradient:
Or this tropical orange and pink vibe:
For the colours that vibe well together, the next step is then to create Swatch collections in Illustrator for re-use later. This means that when it then comes to playing around with ideas for cards, I already have ready made colour inspo at my fingertips!
Its not just the colours you can play with, the shapes are up for grabs too! As mentioned, I like to keep a big Illustrator file of random vector shapes so I can browse it when I need to and get inspired or even pick up a shape quickly that I need. Bag shapes are a great addition to this collection.
Handbags often have and make distinctive shapes depending on their style, and it's a fun exercise to dissect the bags into shapes and see where you end up.
To derive the shapes initially, I actually import the jpgs of bags into Procreate on my iPad, set the opacity of the bag layer to 50%, and then make a new layer where I can trace interesting shapes that I find:
I can then colour the shapes in so I can see them better, and start playing around with them:
From these building blocks of shapes, the possibilities for fun are endless. At this point, I usually export the file from Procreate into Illustrator so that I can turn the shapes into vectors. I then add them to my Shape Library for later reference and play.
What's happens next?
It's usual for me to have no immediate plans for the colours or shapes that I derive from one of these Creativity hunts, because the real purpose is to help me build up my colour and shape libraries for when I'm thinking about new concepts for stationery lines.
Because I'm both designer and business owner of Little Goat Supplies, its really important for me to invest in my ongoing creativity and inspiration like this outside of specific cycles of stationery design, so that I am better set up to dip back in when I can.
I hope you've enjoyed a little inside look into some of the ways that I collect inspiration from everyday objects and things around me! I even managed to get through writing this entire article without buying any bags! 😅