For most people, their commute to work is the worst part of their day. Traffic can make you late, and you might be stressed about your day at work.

Your commute doesn’t have to be this bad. There are a lot of ways for you to hack your commute and be more productive rather than be discouraged by the congestion. As a designer, you’re always looking for something to spark your creativity. It turns out your commute is full of inspiring designs. You just have to look for them.

If you’re driving to work, PLEASE keep your eyes on the road. But if you happen to be stopped at a red light, here are some things to look out for.

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House Designs

Inspiration can come from anywhere. You have to know what to look for and how you can turn it into a design. Shapes and patterns are just two things you should look for on the road. You can find these features in houses.

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Most houses on your commute are unique, and some stand out from others. Think about these questions:

  • What makes them stand out?
  • Are there certain colors or angles that are different from the other homes?
  • Does the landscape bring out some of the house’s best features?
  • Is there a mix of an old school and modern look that you like?

Houses are a combination of features that co-exist to create a whole structure. Your designs should do the same thing.

Listen to Music

Design inspiration doesn’t have to come from looking at certain structures. Your designs can be inspired by music as well.

Your designs should tell a story. They should evoke emotion and make people think about life. They’re your personal art piece. Music is another art form that tries to accomplish the same goals. You can look to music for inspiration on storytelling and bringing emotion out of anyone who looks at your design.

Listen to music on your commute and dissect the story the artist is telling. Think about that story as a visual design. How would it be told? What can you add to the visual that would make people emotionally connect with it? Now you have a few design ideas before you get into work.

Building Designs

Have to commute into a city for work? The bad news is you’ll most likely be sitting in traffic. The good news is you can admire the infrastructure.

Take one glance at a building, and you can figure out most of its story. You can get a good idea of when it was built, how it was built, why it was built, and who it was built for. Is it a modern building with large windows and a shiny tint? Maybe the outside is rusty and the grass is a foot high. This indicates the building has been abandoned for some time.

These elements tell you so much about the building. You can use this in your designs. Incorporate details that’ll help tell your design’s story.

Look at Signs

Signs can be incredible sources of inspiration. Signs tell drivers pivotal information as quickly and efficiently as possible. This can be extremely helpful to your designs.

Less is more when it comes to design. This is the entire mantra of minimalist design, which focuses on making more of an impact with fewer components. It’s the ability to cut distractions out of design. Nothing does this better than signs. There is a limited amount of space to communicate vital information to people driving by at 55 miles per hour.

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Take a look at signs and ask yourself a few questions:

  • How is the information communicated?
  • Does the color of the sign contrast with the text?
  • Is the text lit? How much text is there?

Notice the tiny details and use the minimalist design in your work.

Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are great for entertainment on your commute. Luckily there are plenty of them for all different categories. There are plenty of graphic design podcasts you can look to for inspiration.

Podcasts typically feature experts in the genre they specialize in, and you can learn about their experience. You can also learn certain tricks and techniques you might not have known before. Listening to experts talk about graphic design might inspire an idea you wouldn’t have thought of.

Make your commute go by quickly while getting ideas for designs by listening to podcasts.

Car Design

Did you know that 128 million people in the U.S have a daily commute and 78% drive alone? That’s a long line of traffic (not to mention the amount of cars on the roads). While in that wonderful car parade, have you ever checked out someone else’s car? Do you examine its make and model? Perhaps you admire a classic on the road. Each car model is designed differently. A lot of thought goes into the craftsmanship of each vehicle.

As you’re commuting to work, take a look at the cars on the road around you. What makes one brand stand out from another brand? What are some distinct features that appeal to certain drivers? What does the car say about the driver? Does the driver have a family? Are they a construction worker?

You can find out a lot of information about a person just by the type of car they’re driving. This can be helpful for your design because it can tell a story in the same way.

Flow of the Road

Design Inspiration Found on the Work Commute
Flow is an important aspect of design. Every part of it needs to flow together to form a sense of completion.

While you’re on your way to work, you can find inspiration from the road. Notice how it curves and controls the flow of traffic. Roads have an essential job because they have to fit many cars and make sure everyone is moving. They’re organized and flow naturally, which are two components your designs should have.


It’s easier to find inspiration when you know more about design. Luckily for you there are a number of design books that are available on audiobook. Spend your commute listening to these books.

As you’re heading to work, you might learn something new about design. You also might gain a new perspective on the art of design. As you’re learning, you might see something on your commute that inspires you. Listen to graphic design audiobooks on your commute for newfound inspiration.

Don’t Waste Your Commute

Your commute to work can be a tremendous waste of time if you don’t use its full potential. Look for inspiration on your way so you never run out of ideas!

Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She enjoys researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
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