20 outrageous places to find color inspiration

20 outrageous places to find color inspiration
  • 7 July 2010
  • Articles, Web Design
  • This post was written exclusively for PV.M Garage by Mike Smith
  • Comments (26)»

Finding color inspiration can be easy, as long as you know where to look. Most web designers will say that there are places online like Colour Lovers to find color inspiration, which are great, but what about the not-so-obvious choices that you can use? What about Garbage? What about Abandoned Buildings or 80’s album covers? This post will cover 20 unconventional sources of color inspiration – I hope your enjoy it.

Ice Cream Parlors

Color Inspiration
Heading over to your ice cream parlor with a camera can definitely help you grab some color inspiration. From the ice cream, to the bright and colorful decorations around the store, you’re sure to find something worthwhile to use.


Color Inspiration
This is one of the most underrated (in my opinion) areas to grab color inspiration. Graffiti artists spend a ton of time finding the right color combo’s for their pieces and it shows in the various places around town you’re able to snap shots.


Color Inspiration
Bright colored bugs – what’s not to love? These small, but useful, butterflies are draped in some amazing color combinations that will help you get out of a color funk in no time.

Food Packaging

Color Inspiration
In order to grab the buyers attention, food packaging has to be visually appealing – perfect for finding cool color inspiration for your next project. I’ve found a couple color combos at my grocery store recently which are being put to good use with a theme I’m building.

80’s Album Covers

Color Inspiration
Bright, funky and in your face – if this is the color inspiration you’re after, then 80’s album covers are where it’s at. They’re definitely ‘different’ and a bit on the edgy side, but from what I’ve seen, these styles are making their way back into the mainstream again, so make sure you dust off your old albums and find some inspiration.

Clothes in your closet

Color Inspiration
In my closet, everything is black (just kidding) but I’m sure there are a lot of closets out there that are full of various colors. Some bright, some more earthy, but all equally inspiring. Go do some digging through your closet and see what you can find.

Abandoned Buildings

Color Inspiration
Oddly, one of my favorite places to draw color inspiration from is any abandoned building around my local area. Take a camera with you and get to shooting. These types of color combos are perfect for the darker, edgier projects you’re working on that are in need of something other than #000000 as it’s main color choice.


Color Inspiration
You know the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” – well, it holds true here as well. I haven’t personally used garbage for a color combo yet, but I know with the amount of trash we throw away on a daily basis, there’s something worthwhile in there – just put on gloves before you go looking :)

Old Magazines

Color Inspiration
Vintage magazines are great places to find muted color inspiration. You will also be able to find gems that are bright and vibrant, but with the aging of the paper and the style that was popular in the 60’s and 70’s, you’re better off using this for muted color inspiration.

Children’s Toy Chest

Color Inspiration
Kids toys are bright, so if you’re looking for something in that color spectrum, raid your childrens toys and see what you can find :)

Bob Ross Paintings

Color Inspiration
Bob Ross is awesome. (I almost left this entire description that one simple sentence but figured it’d be better to say a bit more). Bob Ross’ paintings were vivid and deep, full of great earth tones that are easily a top 10 source for color inspiration.

The Liqour Aisle

Color Inspiration
The lables on some of the liqour I’ve bought recently are amazing – full of life and easy to take and incorporate into a web design project. Bonus – you get to drink what you buy!

Flower Shop

Color Inspiration
Flowers are another source of color inspiration. No, not red roses (although you can find inspiration with them as well). I mean, boquets of flowers, full of 10+ different kinds of flower.

Used Book Store

Color Inspiration
Not to mention the amount of reading gems you find here, used book stores also have awesome colors (and textures) that you can draw inspiration from, by taking pictures and pulling random colors from google with the eye dropper tool.

Global Currencies

Color Inspiration
Cash Rules Everything Around Me. Even color :) (did you get the Wu-Tang reference there?). In the past, money in the US was a green color, but over the past few years we’ve been adding splashes of other colors, just like various other currencies around the world. Make some money and use it for more than purchases – pull color inspiration from it :)


Color Inspiration
Sneakers nowadays (especially Nike and other urban shoe companies) are full of off-the-wall color combos which make them perfect for drawing inspiration from.

Pimped Out Cars

Color Inspiration
Crazy paint jobs, rums and interior customizations – what more could you ask for? How about a nice source of color inspiration? That’s right, checking out cars can now be considered work – as long as you’re pulling colors from pictures every now and then :)

Gourmet Food

Color Inspiration
I love food and 9 times out of 10, the visual appeal of the food doesn’t get to me one way or the other, but for the most part, gourmet foods have a great color pallete built into them in order to grab the eaters attention, which can be a great place for color inspiration.

Halloween Costumes

Color Inspiration
Another source of grungy, dark and evil color combo’s is the halloween costumes that your children, or the kids coming to your door begging for candy are wearing. People think of halloween and immediately think “orange and black” but there are a lot of other costumes out there that you can pull color inspiration from.

Comic Books

Color Inspiration
Last, but not least, is comic books and the vast amount of color inspiration that they bring. Not only are the drawings amazing, the use of color is what really helps the comic books stand out when you’re looking at them. So, look at them, tell your spouse that you’re not just living in your past, and get to work :)

Where do you find your color inspiration?

Let us know in the comments where you find color inspiration from for your projects.

Author: Mike Smith

Mike releases WordPress themes and is a full time freelance designer at Guerrilla. He writes articles across the web on a variety of design and business related topics.

website design and development


  1. Mark

    I usually get my color inspiration from a drive in the country… gets the brain flowing.

  2. Jodi

    Oh wow! Cool ideas for finding inspiration. Some of these are really the best. As an artist one often time feels the need to find inspiration and it can be found in the most unlikely of places.

  3. Ted Thompson

    Some interesting ideas, like the ice cream, very colourful. I quite often get inspiration from tins of paint.

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