Feeling Uninspired? The World Is Your Oyster

July 27, 2023

By Duke Greenhill, Karry Liu, Brand Guardian.

We’ve all been there. You rack your brain for inspiration. Your cursor blinks at you. Your deadline is creeping closer. Aaaaand you’ve got nothing.

So… what do you do? Steal. (No, I don’t mean plagiarize.) You might’ve heard about Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon from What’s Stephanie Reading. This is how I take what I read and put it into practice. Let me show you how I steal like a Rogue.

A few weeks ago, I was tasked with creating a messaging playbook for the Water Environment Association of Texas (WEAT). Initially, I went with our usual Rogue playbook template.


But WEAT needed something different. I brainstormed, and drew a blank. But instead of pulling my hair out, I pulled out a magazine. (I keep a collection around for moments just like this — check out my last blog post about how to curate your own inspiration arsenal.) I flipped through and found page layouts that I thought were unique. When I found a layout I liked, I decided to try it out in WEAT’s playbook.



And the playbook went from what you saw earlier to this.


The three main points that I “stole” from this magazine were the oval-esque images, lines, and text rotated onto its side.

I borrowed three main pieces of inspiration:

  • Pill-shaped images
  • Lines included throughout the pages
  • Text rotated sideways

Rounded objects are a much friendlier shape. Rectangles convey reliability and confidence. These were the feelings we wanted for WEAT’s campaign and playbook. Combining these two gives us a pill or capsule-like shape.

Lines add an artistic touch, and they emphasize certain pieces of text we want the reader to see. Horizontal lines make headings stand out, and vertical lines indicate the beginning of a new section. Lines also narrow the text’s width, making it easier to read.

I rotated the section title text ninety degrees (like the magazine layout did), and included the section title in the margin of every page. That way, the reader always knows where they are.

Last but not least, I applied WEAT’s branding to tie the playbook together. Even though we took inspiration from a magazine’s layout, we still made it a WEAT playbook. And that’s how I steal like a Rogue.

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