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Seven websites to inspire the everyday designer in you

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(ARA) - For anyone looking to design a wedding invitation or website, discover the latest color trends or simply take a break from a hectic day, creative inspirations are only a mouse click away. Websites and social networks are hot outlets right now for finding and sharing images. Even professional and aspiring graphic designers turn to the Internet for a dose of inspiration for their work - and to share their creativity with others.

"Design is a process that starts with inspiration," says Brad Kisner, a professional graphic designer and department chair of communication design for Harrington College of Design, a leading provider of higher education in the fields of graphic design, photography and interior design. "That inspiration can come from anywhere - conversations with family or friends, past experiences, or things you might see walking down the street. Today, it's also easy to go online to find intriguing visuals that spark creativity."

With so many sites to choose from, a good starting point is to find those featuring a variety of media, visuals and styles. In addition, the best websites should always properly credit or link to the original sources of the work featured. Here are seven websites to help inspire creative ideas:

* Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) is one of the fastest-growing social-networking sites, with more than 10 million users. It's an online bulletin board for posting ("pinning") anything that catches your interest online. Explore the site and you'll find everything from recipes and snapshots of vacation getaways to wedding invitation designs and home-remodeling projects. You can browse specific design-related "pinboards" created by others to get ideas, and it's also a handy repository for organizing and saving favorite designs or photos that you come across online. A common denominator: everything is highly visual, be it photos, videos or graphics. The site also is searchable by categories such as apparel, architecture, home decor, gardening and technology.

* Core77 (www.core77.com) is an online gathering place for designers and enthusiasts to read about new approaches and thinking in product and industrial design. "It helps me push my thoughts outside my comfort zone," Kisner says. "It inspires and amazes me."

* ARTISTIK Magazine (www.artistikmagazine.com) is a quarterly publication showcasing artwork and stories from aspiring designers, including Harrington College of Design students and alumni. It features regular columns about design trends, techniques, and top apps and websites. The site also shares portfolio work of student photographers, designers and artists.

* UnderConsideration (www.underconsideration.com) is about all things graphic design. It features a network of design-focused blogs that invite dialogue on design topics, shares notable creative projects and even highlights menu designs from restaurants worldwide.

* Designflavr (www.designflavr.com) is a moderated visual design and art gallery that regularly showcases new talent. The website shares artistic talent to - as it states - "keep the creative juices flowing" in the arenas of digital art, typography, photography, illustrations and advertising, among others. Users can browse by categories and rate the images.

* ButDoesItFloat (www.butdoesitfloat.com) provides virtual and visual inspiration through photography, typography, sculpture and artwork, among others.

* The Inspiration Room (http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/) is a creative archive and online community for viewing content from around the world. The website offers the latest visuals from television, print, advertising, music videos, photography and design. Visitors can sign up to receive daily news feeds or updates.

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