inspiration: how do you keep track of yours?

From a very young age I have gathered and saved images, art cards, photos, business cards, clothing tags and the like. I have several boxes, bins and binders where I keep them, however my collection is growing. As as Interior Designer, I gather inspiration from almost anywhere, whether it be for clients or now also blogging, my stash of cutouts and clippings is growing more than ever.

I love pin boards and the collage of creativity that evolves within them. Whether they show a development of one idea or several, they are inspirational nonetheless and I find myself wanting to know what transpired from them, how often they change and how many people add to them?

The home office of Thomas O’Brien via Elle Decor left, and the studio space of Amsterdam’s Studio Aandacht via the style files.

Inspiration boards in the hallway of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia via the Martha blog.

Artist Geninne’s work space and inspiration board. via Paper Taste Buds

Here is the pin board in my office where I include, images and cutouts, photos, little notes and cards, fabrics and even colouring pages from my girls.

Notebooks are another place to keep thoughts, ideas, sketches and clippings. I love the Moleskine books. Blank, lined, boxed, graphed, whatever your preference they have it. I have always used the graphed notebooks. It’s great for measuring and creating quick floor plans. As well, it keeps my notes nice and neat within the lines.

Here is a stack of mine. I keep all my client details in here and it is in my handbag almost everyday. You never know when you might need to jot down some important information.

Mine aren’t quite as pretty as these, however. I love the imagery that brainstorming on paper creates here. I would love to see what developed from some of these pages. Images via Gardens Blog

For business I also have notebooks where I keep goals, information from courses I took or online reads. A girl friend of mine gave me the Andy Warhol Idea Book and the Idea Log was a gift from a client. When working on my business I find it really helpful to write things down and I reference them often from a planning, business organization and goal setting perspective.

Since I started blogging, my inspirations and cataloging of creative ideas and thoughts has taken on a whole new level. There are many clever ways to keep track of all the amazing images on the internet and one that I have found works really well is a site called Pinterest. Many of you I’m sure are familiar with it. Pinterest is a social catalog service. A virtual pinboard — a place where you can post collections of things you love, and “follow” collections created by others.

I am loving this option to save and keep track of images that inspire me while browsing the internet. You can create boards on anything ~ quotes, stationary, photography, clothing…anything your heart desires :)

A peak into a few of my pins on Pinterest. You can follow me here if you wish.

Another online option where you can create virtual inspiration boards is Olioboard . It’s a great tool to pull together a look that you might be thinking about creating, or even put together a presentation for a client. The outcome is a really quite fun. I have yet to dive into this. I fear it may be addicting, like so many other interactive sites are and I may lose more time to internet activities. However I do see the value in this resource so I’m sure it won’t be long until I cave.

I found this board called ‘Attic Office’ on the Olioboard site that I thought was quite interesting and well put together. It makes we want to try one. Really.

What do you use? Are you tactile, using paper, books and boards to keep track of your musings and ideas? Have you converted to online resources and cataloging systems to keep track of your creativity? Or perhaps you are like me. I’m not ready to give up paper, yet I’m loving the online access of the many services out there that allow us to keep everything in one place, organized, detailed and ready to share.

So tell me! I would love to hear from you.

Comments (10)
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    yvonne Jan 11 2011 - 8:12 am Reply

    I really enjoyed this post Nyla…as a virgo I always struggle with keeping it all organized (the Martha Stuart board might be a bit over the top for even me though :) and like you I love the online access however I can’t let go of the paper (and don’t think I want to)…thanks for some great ideas and examples.

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    Stacey Jan 11 2011 - 8:35 am Reply

    Love the idea of inspiration boards and collages, but with my ‘office’ located in our tiny living room (as well as a toddler), logistically, it’s not going to happen for me right now. I have a folder on my desktop that I will drag photos to and a bookmark folder just for things I want to find again.

    And I do have a Pinterest account that’s been sadly neglected – thanks for reminding me about it!

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    Fiona Richards Jan 11 2011 - 8:38 am Reply

    Hi Nyla – this is a great post! I love seeing everyone’s inspiration boards. My art is digital collage so I have 2 huge magnetic boards in the studio that I shuffle around all the scraps of paper that I have collected over the years until I find a theme that I like and then I take it to the scanner. So the boards I have are filled with vintage ephemera and I’m constantly rearranging pieces so that they are pleasing to my eye!

    P.S. Doug made the magnetic boards for me from large flat sheets of roof flashing that he attached to the wall and I painted a nice french blue :-)

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    LeAnne Jan 11 2011 - 10:29 am Reply

    ohhh… Olioboard. Love Olioboard. Fabulous tool!
    I have a computer file full of images, articles, and bits & bobs. Plus I have binders of lovingly organized tearouts from magazines, collected over years and years. Sadly, I never, ever, refer to those though…. I go straight to my online faves to get inspired. Hmmm time to get rid I think.
    Thanks for the great insiration for inspiration!

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    TLC_Designs @ Passport2Design Jan 11 2011 - 11:56 am Reply

    Love these images! Photo collages packed with inspiration are so much fun. I love to look at other peoples’ inspiration boards – its so telling!

    I have most of my inspiration online now that I am mobile with most of my work, otherwise, I used to have many inspiration boards and cork boards with magazine pages and fabric swatches.

    *Tania @

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    Vanessa@Decor Happy Jan 11 2011 - 12:37 pm Reply

    All of my inspirational images are online – I love Picasa because you can see all your images in your folders.

    I started the blog so I could have all my inspiration in one spot.

    Funny you should mention Olioboard. I, too, have been putting off using it but I have committed to doing one for a client to post tomorrow – so wish me luck and stay tuned!

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    Sarah Jan 11 2011 - 8:39 pm Reply

    What a fantastic post Nyla! I have plans to build a big pinboard for our office, to keep all the little pieces of inspiration that come fluttering through your life. But I find that my digital image library is getting much more added to it these days. Like you, blogging makes me hold onto a lot more things, and it is so easy to right click those pictures. I might want to start a pinterest page, but I’ve been struggling to stay offline as it is.

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