In September of 2008, one of our designers, Greg Washington, began discussing a frustration he had. When starting any design project he would assemble a collection of images. These images are the foundational design research he would do before opening Photoshop or sketching. Over years of projects he collected dozens of folders of loose images on his hard drive.
Most designers maintain private collections of visual inspiration and research to fuel their creative process. Their typical workflow involved going out on the Web and downloading images to a local folder. There these images would sit with a bunch of other badly named files like img4065.jpg and fre566ba01.tif. If highly motivated, designers might bring those images into another program like Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop or Keynote to create a “moodboard”. These files—both the individual files and the moodboards—might get printed once, or thrown into the depths of a server only to be lost.
Greg was looking for an easier way to find, organize and store images that would serve as creative inspiration. He wanted to be able to easily share these images and see what other designers were using as inspiration. He wanted to be able to network those folders that he knew were sitting on everyone’s computers.
We loved the idea and decided to put some effort behind building a site that could do this. Through October, November and December of 2008 about 4 people worked on a site that we called Image Spark. It launched in January of 2009.