Getting inspired by characters from the past is always a great way to start a design and many of our modern favorite characters, films and songs are "remixes" from decades ago. Star Wars was inspired by The Hidden Fortress, an old samurai movie, Elvis Presley's I Can't Help Falling In Love With You is melodically identical to Plaisir D'Amour, there are countless more examples.
In industry, it's quite necessary for the art director to provide the art department with reference. It's quite the handicap to begin a project without it.
Thanks to Sketch Dailies for providing today's inspiration. Go ahead and check out the Sketch Dailies twitter and tumblr blog. Today's character inspiration was Snagglepuss, a sophisticated anthropomorphic lion, created by Hannah Barbara in the 50's.