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English Muse: A Web Designer's Inspiration File

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Web Designer's Inspiration File

Hi there, my name is Michael, and I have the pleasure of wasting some of your time this fine day.

Not 'what I'm going to talk about will waste your time'-waste your time', but rather 'if you're anything like me, one thing will lead to another and you'll find that it has grown dark outside and the cat is clawing your leg for having forgotten to feed it'-waste your time.

And I don't even have a cat.

My personal blogging usually centers on web design, film and games (which I used to develop, now I do freelance web design). Today however, in honor of Tina, I thought I'd highlight some of my inspirational watering holes.

Starting with the ultimate rabbit hole: Ffffound. A chaotic stream of design, typography and photography ranging from the cute through the absurd, beautiful and outrageous to the sexy and mysterious. It's amazing. It's driven entirely by its community, and is updated... always. Blink, and there's something new.

Now, it bears mentioning that you do risk coming across nude photos; so depending on your temperament and surroundings... But then, that's true of most of the internet, isn't it? Luckily, their site mechanics seem to magically keep you around the kinds of images you're looking for, so don't let that keep you away.

Of course going there just now, I spent half an hour picking out stuff for my inspiration folder:

I'm a Star Wars nerd as well, did I mention that?

I have no idea how this was done, but wow.

I want these for my new office!

And yes, there's even plenty of room for nesting envy (I've got a folder full of 'God I wish I lived there'-images from Ffffound).

Then there's wine label designs, flower wrapping designs, fashion, ehm..., this guy, fantastic posters, impossible architecture, landscapes like you wouldn't believe and of course aliens from below.

So that's Ffffound. My favorite watering hole of them all

Then there are some of the more eclectic, like Sleevage, a site dedicated to album cover artwork. One of the unfortunate side effects of downloadable music, is the loss of the album cover. I personally love UNKLE's War Stories and Pocket Symphony by Air, which is covered in great detail, including the manufacturing process of the figures used on the cover. I'm also a huge Trent Reznor fan, and Year Zero is about as good as it gets, with regards to making an album feel like a worthwhile purchase.

Then there's Letters of Note, a site that features... ehm... yeah. Me being a science fiction and film fan, this letter from Philip K. Dick talking about Blade Runner was a great read, as was this 'letter', albeit short.

Now we come to something a bit less... arty. Namely Information Aesthetics, dealing in data visualization, one of those things I like to follow peripherally, and in which wish I had some talent. It sounds dull, but then you see the visualizing of the song lyrics from the band OK Go, or the human body as a subway map. I don't have any idea what most of it means; I just like looking at it.

Related, by the way, is Visual Complexity.

Also check out The Ampersand, a blog dedicated to just that. The Art of the Title Sequence (so many memorable ones; I hold a special place in my heart for Bullitt). The Orientalist Gallery, which features paintings of the romantic middle-east of old. My favorite of the orientalists is Jean-Léon Gérôme, whose art I could lose myself in for hours at a time.

I could keep going on and on, but at least let me leave you with Swiss Miss, run by Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss designer living in New York, who runs one of my favorite design blogs, and who is in a sense one of the sources of inspiration for my starting up as a freelance designer on my own.


I hope that wastes just half as much time for you as it's done for me.

Editor's Note: This post was created by the very modest Michael Heilemann, computer code master and creator of WordPress' legendary Kubrick theme. His brilliant design helped establish the framework for the modern blog. For more on Michael and Kubrick's secret history, please see the story I had the honor of writing recently for the Huffington Post! -- Tina


Blogger Giulia said...

Oh god, no. More places. I know most of them but not all...thanks for wasting me time (I mean that in a good way, dear).



May 6, 2010 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Ms. Chyme said...

Such a great post. Very interesting.

May 6, 2010 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Len♥reNeverM♥re said...

Ffffound can certainly keep me up all night~ Visual delights!

May 6, 2010 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Catharine said...

I bookmarked Visual Complexity and Information Aesthetics. Thanks for the inspiration!

May 6, 2010 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Melissa Blake said...

I didn't know about Sleevage!! Thanks! xoxo

May 6, 2010 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Kristin Hjellegjerde said...

Just fabulous the water, chandelier picture is mindblowing:)

May 6, 2010 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger kelly ann said...

fantastic post!

May 6, 2010 at 8:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

:) my cat adopted our eighbours.. seriously.

Thank you Michael for this post, still smiling, still have to click on the last couple of photo's or sites..

May 6, 2010 at 11:59 PM  
Blogger [ Rei ] said...

Wow, this was an amazing post!
May I ask where you got the underwater living room photoshoot from? :)

May 7, 2010 at 5:41 AM  
Blogger Michael Heilemann said...

Thanks everyone, good to hear there's something for all tastes.

[ Rei ], the underwater photo was from Ffffound. I tried to follow it back to its original site, but the link was unfortunately broken; pity, I had hoped for more :)

May 7, 2010 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger ♥ Callah said...

that underwater pic is brilliant.

May 7, 2010 at 7:24 PM  
Blogger johns said...

Marvelous post! thanks for sharing that information "speed limit studios" is another web development service providers in new york,USA.

May 15, 2010 at 3:12 AM  
Blogger caro said...


I've borrowed your underwater dancer model pic for my own blog I love it!

Thanks for finding it!


May 17, 2010 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Holly Knitlightly said...

Um, can he do posts like this MONTHLY?! Hahah this was awesome! Thanks so much.

(and I know I'm weeks late on replying, haha.)

May 17, 2010 at 8:15 PM  

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