Treat yourself: 10 products to inspire your design in 2012


A New Year is the perfect time to invest some effort in improving your design skills. There are resolutions galore – we even have them on our blog here!

But it shouldn’t be all about work. Set aside time for some design-minded fun, you’ll probably learn something in the process.

2012 Studio On Fire Desk Calendar

Keep track of time and all of your contests with the Positive Apocalypse edition of Studio on Fire‘s annual desktop calendar.

$30 at

Creative Workshop: 80 Challenges to Sharpen Your Design Skills

Find yourself in a design funk? Take a break and challenge yourself – with this book of activities to improve your design skills. The minute you stop thinking about whatever it is that is holding you up, and focus your attention on something fun and different, the solution to your problem just might pop into your head.

Buy it for $16.49 at

Seamless Studio by Colour Lovers

Experiment with creativity, as well as color, shape, space and repetition. This pattern-making program by Colour Lovers lets you do just that! Here at 99designs we always advocate learning by play, so let your inner child loose.

$49 at

Threadless 12 Club

Surprise! You get a new, limited edition t-shirt every month for a year from the well-known t-shirt company (and a fellow crowd-sourcer) , THREADLESS! If you love rocking “tees” that non of your friends have, this is the splurge for you.

One year subscription, $272 at

Tattly Temporary Tatooes

If you would rather go the body-art way, you can spruce up yourself with a couple of designy temporary tattoos from Tattly. Try out the robot, a popcicle, the fake camera or the octopus. Oh yeah, and there’s TONS more.

Buy a set of 2 for $5 or a monthly subscription (8 per month) for $60 at

Print Magazine

Treat yourself to a subscription of pure inspiration! This bimonthly magazine highlights pretty much any type of design that they find cool, so it’s a great resource to learn about what’s going on not just in graphic design, but in all sorts of contemporary design right now. Also, it’s super colorful and awesome.

Get a year’s subscription for $40 at

La Sardina Camera

Photography is a great way to experiment with creativity and find inspiration for your designs. The famous toy-photography company Lomography has recently released La Sardina – it’s a delightfully BLUE and fish-covered toy camera that works with 35 mm film and a wide angle lens – it’s perfect for fishing for great photos any day.

Buy it for $99 at

Type Trumps

Geek out with this game: Competing over type-faces! Perhaps more usefully, the cards that make up the game provide a handy cheat-sheet for some of the most popular fonts out there, letting you know a little bit about the history and classic usage of each typeface. Definitely useful when it’s time to design.

£12.49 (including shipping) at

Corel Painter Programs

Want to explore all of your creative potential through graphic paintings? There are two great options out from Corel right now – the professional program Painter 12 and it’s home-user version, Painter Essentials 4. You can either convert photos to drawings or start from scratch yourself; and you could even use these programs to sketch out some preliminary ideas for your designs.

Painter 12 is available for $359.00 and Painter Essentials 4 for $59.99 on

The Creative Sleep

Tired and ready to go to bed at the end of a long day of designing? Bring yourself some sweet dreams with this Adobe pillow set from My Suite Stuff. Available: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, Flash and more! And they come in minis.

Full size are $15 each, and minis are $8 each at

Have another great designer gift? Share in the comments!


Kaitlyn is part of the Community Team at She grew up in Boulder, CO and went to school at Northwestern University in Chicago. When she's not blogging, she spends her time having adventures and being generally creative. She's all about having new experiences as often as possible!