Inspiration for Concept artists
Check local museums! Local gardens, places like art museums, or local little historical museums. Check out local parks for plant ideas, bring a microscope to look at tiny things. Have a community nearby that is different than yours? Go browse their stores and markets. Especially if you can find handmade objects, or communities that use less technology (like the Amish).
Books of antiques and old items often have great ideas in them in the form of pictures and diagrams. Here are a few books which might be useful. Look for used copies, or check your local library system for these or similar books. You can also check antiques websites or do google searches. If you’re affiliated with a public, private, or university/college/school library they may be able to retrieve these books for you from other libraries. Also, remember that your library probably has access to online resources and databases, some of which are probably related to antiques or art history. Good words to use in search are things like “art history,” “antiques encyclopedia,” “ceramic,” “historic,” and so on. Many of these books are gigantic and would be shelved in the oversize section.
Handy Books For Inspiration
Kitchen Things, by Richard Snodgrass, 2013 ISBN 9781626360365
A book of recipes and photographs of ancient and antique kitchen utensils. Eg, forks, whisks, peelers, choppers, grinders, etc. Plus, photographs of actual recipes written down. Recommended.
An Illustrated History of Interior Decoration, by Mario Praz, 1983. ISBN 0500233586
A book of history and pictures of how people decorated their homes, “from Pompeii to Art Nouveau.” Mainly black and white pictures, focuses mainly on nobles and upper class people. Heavier on text and lighter on pictures.
The Victorian Pattern Glass and China Book, 1990, ISBN 0517030454.
A fantastic collection of photographs and drawings of glass and ceramic objects from the victorian era on, european and american mainly. Stuffed full of pictures and diagrams! Incudes objects like dinner/dessert/drink/serving things, pottery, toilet items, jewelry, furniture, art, mirrors, lamps, chandeliers, vases, etc. Highly recommended.
Miller’s Antiques Encyclopedia, ed. By Judith Miller, 2013, ISBN 9781845337698.
A collection of photographs and information on antiques of all kinds. Includes furniture, ceramics, silver, jewelry, rugs, textiles, clocks, toys, dolls and more. Focuses on objects from the last 300 years or so, since these are all actual antiques in collections. Has diagrams of variations in things like drawer pull knobs and spoon handle styles. Highly Recommended.
The History of Furniture, by John Morley, 1999, ISBN 082122624X.
A history book with pictures and text about furniture, focusing on western (mediterranean, european, american) styles. Heavier on text and lighter on pictures.
Ornamental Ironwork, ed. by Carol Belanger Grafton, 1998, ISBN 0486298116.
A book composed entirely of drawings of ornamental wrought iron fences, railings, doors, bars, etc. Fascinating! Recommended. (Similarly, Ornamental Ironwork by Susan and Michael Southworth, 1978, ISBN 0879232331)
Kitchenalia, by Vinny Lee, 2014, ISBN 9781909342491.
A book on decorating your kitchen with flea-market type items. Definitely a modern book about modern kitchens, but as it shows different ways to arrange a kitchen and also old fashioned items, could be helpful, especially in interior design.
Curtains and Draperies, by Jenny Gibbs, 1994, ISBN 0879515392.
A book of curtains, draperies, blinds, and other hanging fabrics. Mainly european designs. Many drawing and pictures.
Jewelry, Ancient to Modern, ed. by Anne Garside, 1979, ISBN 067040697x.
A book of jewelry and all kinds, including things like buckles and clasps. Western/european jewelry from ancient egypt on. Many pictures, though most are black and white.
The Encyclopedia of Furniture, ed. by Hermann Schmitz, 1957, LOC catalog # 57-9791
An excellent resource. A few pages of explanation in front, then the remainder of the book is detailed black and white plates of western/european furniture from ancient rome and egypt and on. Also includes a few eastern styles from the 1800s on.
The Grammar of Ornament, by Owen Jones, first pub 1856, current ed 1986, ISBN 0517624869
European and asian ornamentation, designs, and images used on cups, bowls, clothes, tapestries, carvings, etc. Almost entirely drawings. Recommended.
Oriental Carpet Design, by P.R.J Ford, 1989, ISBN 9780500276648
A book of history and designs, and includes how rugs are made. Traditional borders, motifs, and plenty of photographs of completed rugs.
The Fashion Encyclopedia, by Angus, Baudis, and Woodcock, 2015, isbn 9780764167676
A book about modern fashion, including terminology and fabric designs and production methods. Mainly focuses on fashion from the 1920’s on, with an emphasis on runway-type clothing rather than everyday clothes. Worth a look for ideas on unusual clothes and fabrics and cuts.
The Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes, by Albert Racinet, orig pub in 1888, repub in 1988. ISBN 0816019762.
Truly encyclopedic and includes clothing and fashions from around the world, from ancient to modern times. (This includes african, asian, american, etc, not just mediterranean and european.) Many color plates and excellent diagrams. Highly recommended.
The Encyclopedia of World Costume, by Doreen Yarwood. 1986, ISBN 0517619431
Also truly encyclopedic, mainly mediterranean and european styles. Has an incredible number of ink drawings and includes diagrams of things like boot cuff variations, sewing machines, wig types, etc. Though everything is black and white, the drawings are so well done it doesn’t matter. Includes lots of text as well for extra information and historical context. Highly recommended.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Costume and Fashion, 2006, ISBN, 9781844034833
A simpler text than the other examples on this page. Includes colorful drawings, a few representative of each era and fashion. Excellent for a first start in looking at clothing, but lacks the depth and detail of some of the other books.
Flowers and Herbs of Early America, Lawrence D Griffith. 2008 ISBN 9780879352387
A listing of the flowers and herbs grown and used in early america for cooking, medicine, etc. Plenty of writing and historical data and large beautiful pictures of flowers. Excellent visual resource.
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Chronicles: Art and Design, 2014, 9780062265715
Great explanations of how the various armors were design, chock full of concept art. The other movies also have similar books.