The world is full of great ideas. It’s also full of bad ones. A good designer knows to seek inspiration far afield.

In visual communications, we often turn to creative references to provide us with quick inspiration before presenting our own ideas to a client. While inspiration is useful it’s also easy, offering immediate, low-risk solutions. Fast sometimes means you haven’t thought things through. And if we present something we aren’t comfortable with to the client, it’s our own fault if the client decides your bad idea is….great. The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.

In a world where the pursuit of “likes” on social media has become a short cut to thinking our work is done, we should instead search further afield to find true inspiration.

Lately, I have become enamoured of a series of documentaries tackling the creative process, such as The Creative Class (produced by WeTransfer), Chef’s Table, and Abstract: The Art of Design (the latter being perhaps the best original content of the year).

Directed by Scott Dadich, the former editor-in-chief of WiredAbstract: The Art of Design is a visual extension of the editorial vision he has expressed in print. Over eight episodes, this Netflix production follows extraordinary artists of photography, illustration, architecture, interior design, graphic design, car design, set design, and footwear design. Dadich stresses that the most important elements of the episodes are “the stories,” showing the creators’ processes and contexts, their teams, workplaces, homes, and families, as well as their every day routines. By looking beyond the final product, these documentaries demonstrate how good ideas are born and developed; these films portray the vital nature of creativity.

Today’s designers’ challenge is knowing how to stay relevant, authentic and original amidst a world of plenty.

But that same world of plenty is a source of inspiration – you just have to know where to look.