10 Creative Websites and Artists That Inspire Us Every Day
The word “creative” does a lot of work in our name: Roger West Creative & Code.
It can be an adjective: “A creative approach.”
It can transform into an adverb: “We think creatively.”
Elevated to a profession, it can be a noun: “Creatives make the digital marketing world go ‘round.”
We put it in our name because it’s such an important part of who we are.
And to spark creativity, we are always on the lookout for inspiration.
We find inspiration wherever it is: A conversation with a friend, a breathtaking sunset, an interesting novel, an exhilarating movie, a poignant song, an evocative painting, a quiet moment of contemplation.
But here’s the truth. As digital marketers, most of our waking hours are spent looking at screens. Mac screens. PC screens. Tablet screens. Phone screens. TV screens. We stare at the screens, and they stare back at us – straight into the depths of our sleep-deprived, creative souls.
Sometimes, inspiration jumps off the screen and launches creativity into motion.
Sometimes, we go in search of it. And when we do, here are some of the artists, websites and social media accounts that get our creative juices flowing.
The Webby Awards
A Webby is the Holy Grail of digital marketing. Sadly, we still seek our first one. One day it’ll happen! What? IT WILL.
In the meantime, we know exactly where to turn when we want to find the best stuff out there. The annual winners are presented in all their glory right on the Webby website.
Some of these campaigns and digital masterpieces will absolutely blow your mind. You think, “How did they do that?” And then you think, “How did it even occur to them that they COULD do that??”
That’s the beauty of the creative process: It keeps you humble. You might be the Patrick Mahomes of code, or the Serena Williams of design, or the Lebron James of copywriting. But there is always more to achieve.
And damned if these Webby winners didn’t achieve it.
We check these sites when we want to be inspired by what is possible, and what has been recognized as the best of the best by people who know.
Joe Rohde, Portfolio Creative Executive, Walt Disney Imagineering
Who? Well, if you don’t know Joe, you need to know.
This is the guy behind so much that is beautiful at one of the most aesthetically lush theme parks in the world, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He also led creative development for the Marvel movie franchise.
Joe possesses the soul of an artist and the heart of a teacher, and it comes through every time we hear him speak about the creative process.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to watch him on a Disney documentary (he’s featured in the Emmy-nominated The Imagineering Story on Disney+), Rohde is the one with the funky explorer’s hat and the dangly earring stretching his left lobe to his shoulder.
Something new he did for the Disney website is a series of short videos exploring the creative concepts behind Animal Kingdom called The Rohdes, Less Traveled. It’s a family collaboration, conceived and produced by Rohde and his family as they hunkered down at their California home during the coronavirus lockdown.
Joe’s Instagram account is a master class on design. We go back to it time and again to remind ourselves that beauty is in the details.
Codrops by Tympanus
This is just a very cool digital playground, where smart people go to share the secrets behind their most innovative work with code and design.
You never know what you’ll find from week to week on the Codrops Collective: a dazzling website, a seemingly impossible on-screen effect, a funky new typeface, advice on how to avoid common color mistakes and so much more. It’s also a pretty good follow on Instagram.
We love to visit Codrops when we’re in the mood to discover something completely new. We’re never disappointed.
Humans of New York
Photographer Brandon Stanton launched Humans of New York as a photo project in 2010. The goal? Photograph 10,000 New Yorkers in their natural environment.
The images were at turns haunting, funny and provocative. They elicited a complex hive of emotions and archived NYC like never before.
Over time, his photo sessions morphed into conversations. He began to share quotes and anecdotes along with the images.
His Instagram account has 11 million followers, and he has authored two best-selling books. His in-depth series on topics like pediatric cancer, the invisible wounds of war, life as an inmate and many others shine a light into some of the toughest stories to tell.
His online platforms and books inspire us to find the humanity and the light in every story.
Hilary Hahn, @Violincase Instagram
Hilary Hahn, who turned 40 recently, began her career at age 10. She earned a reputation as a prodigy and a brilliant Bach disciple. She may well be the most gifted violinist alive. She may also be among the hardest working, with 1,594 concerts played – an average of 53 a year for three decades.
Her exhilarating stage performances lift the spirit and conjure wonder. Her talent is undeniable, but it’s not the only reason she is in demand across Europe, Asia and North America.
What makes her a true inspiration is the hard work she puts into the art and craft of music. How do we know she works hard?
Because on her Instagram account, Violincase, she employed the hashtag #100DaysofPractice. Three times in recent years, she has shared video from 100 consecutive days of practice sessions with her followers.
These short glimpses into the painful process of perfecting her art help remind us that worthy creations require hard work. We visit Hilary’s account when we need to see that nothing brilliant shines without a lot of polishing.
Jack Appleby, @JuiceboxCA
Jack Appleby is a sought-after creative strategist and basketball enthusiast. His experience includes working with Microsoft, Spotify, Verizon, Beats by Dre, Minecraft, Rock Band and more. Despite the ode to California in his social media handle, Jack recently relocated to New York City and took a Creative Strategy position with streaming giant Twitch.
So, what is it about Jack that makes him so inspiring?
He uses social media to connect other creatives and marketing professionals, and shares insights on the projects he’s worked on. In one popular Twitter Moments reel, he created a thread of every social case study he’s ever written, complete with analysis that covers social happenings from brands across multiple industries.
Threw every social case study thread I’ve written into a Twitter Moment:
– 700-tweet Disney+ thread
– Fortnite x Star Wars event
– 2.6m Influencer can’t sell 36 shirts
– NYPL InstaNovels
– Star Wars poster microinfluencers
– TikToker influencer tie
— Jack Appleby (@JuiceboxCA) January 3, 2020
His expertise is well-respected in the creative advertising space, and he’s brought his strategy skills to podcasts, blogs, and articles across the Internet.
Appleby’s accessibility and passion for sharing his knowledge and experience has led to incredible engagement on his Instagram and Twitter profiles. He manages to strike a balance between entertainment and education, a skill that is certainly one to aspire to for any content creator.
Everybody Writes, Ann Handley
Ann Handley was the first person in the world to have the “Chief Content Officer” title and spent her entire career developing and executing content strategy. While her book, Everybody Writes isn’t a cool website or a creative engineer’s portfolio, it is a go-to for those days when writer’s block – or worse – insecurity, set in.
Everybody Writes removes preciousness from the “writer” identity, reminding readers that if you write, you’re a writer … so you might as well do it well!
Infused with wisdom, wit, and objective common sense, Everybody Writes is inspiring because it reframes the writing process and argues that an oversaturated content market means that creating good content isn’t futile, it’s essential.
Booooooom is an online art platform created by Canadian artist Jeff Hamada that features contemporary voices in art, photography, illustration and design. The website allows members to submit their work for showcasing and holds several public art open calls to give up-and-coming artists the opportunity to have their work exhibited in photography and art festivals around the world. The site itself is minimalistic, with easy navigation and access to online galleries of art across all visual mediums.
The blog section of Booooooom uses brief blog posts to describe featured artwork and artists and includes ongoing series like A Month in Photos. This website is a virtual, visual playground with aesthetics to match any style, while inspiring artists to push past their boundaries or preferred medium.
The blog is a great mixture of brevity and rich, textured art. Whether you’re looking for photo inspiration, design inspiration, or if you’re in the mood for something more evocative, Booooooom and its global community of artists always delivers.
TED Talks, Creativity
No inspiration or motivation article is complete without giving TED Talks a little shout out. There’s a reason why TED Talks surpassed one billion views … 8 years ago! They are powerful, motivating, and there’s a video for every topic under the sun.
The creativity section of TED Talks is robust, with videos covering the power of film, protecting yourself from burnout, art in the age of artificial intelligence and more. The TED Talks library is so extensive that you’ll never run out of videos to watch, and their speaker talent, which includes Elizabeth Gilbert and the late Steve Jobs, blend creativity with other topics like technology, morality and courage for a holistic creative education.
Sure, a good TED Talk will inspire you to create art – but beyond that, it will help you reframe the way you approach the content you create, whether it be copy, graphic design or video. There’s more than just inspiration here, there’s advice on how to navigate the world as a creative, and how to find more inspiration in the outside world.
TED Talks are like a matryoshka doll of inspiration – you’ll never run out of nuggets of wisdom or ideas to play with as you make your way through the content library.
As the self-proclaimed heart of the designer community, Dribbble is an organization committed to building the best online community for designers and creatives to share, grow, and ultimately – get hired. Dribbble has impressive partnerships with brands like Apple, Slack and Google – facilitating brand exposure while helping them hire expert creatives within the community … but that’s not the best part.
The Explore section of Dribbble is rife with inspiration and impressive works by designers in the community. Anyone who visits the site has the ability to browse through snapshots (“shots”) of work done by creatives around the world.
If the spirit of competition is in the air, community members can join the “Playoffs”, which engages users by allowing them to “rebound” shots by other artists. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like a little friendly competition!
Dribbble isn’t just a visual feast, though. The blog is a great educational tool for designers looking to read up on the latest techniques and technology, and often features interviews with industry veterans. Dribble is a one-stop-shop for graphic designers and anyone influenced by great art.
That’s our list.
It’s not comprehensive, by any means. We’re always on the lookout for the next great source of inspiration. But there are only so many hours in the day, and we might have missed a few.
What’s on your list?