Making your own set of brushes can be fun and extremely useful. I like to start by taking picture of interesting shapes, marks or textures that I see in my day to day travels. Having a small digital camera on you at all times is key. One night as I was sitting with my kids at Sonic (having a delicious Java Chiller) I noticed some really interesting rust, oil and water stains on the concrete, in the parking next to us. I grabbed my digital camera and took some quick shots. Later that evening I brought the images into photoshop and worked up a really cool set of brushes.
They've worked out great for projects that require a bit of distressing and they give those projects a unique, organic element that can only be duplicated with that brush set. The brush set allows me to add a bit of sauce to a piece that otherwise may be pretty stagnant, and I can do that on the fly now that the brushes are created. That's important to me.
Shortly after I did that I had a project come up for one of my clients that called for a bit of distressing. After I did the initial design I pulled the brushes and and made quick work of adding some really cool effects to the piece.
Use this RIGHT NOW!
Anytime time you get the chance to do something different then do it. Setting yourself apart is what will get you noticed (don't light yourself on fire or run naked through a Wal-Mart...that's the kind of different that you don't want). I'd tell you how to make the brushes yourself, but why would I do that when you can go to Howcast.com and watch a video about it.
SIDE NOTE: Howcast.com is the BOMB when it comes to design tips. There are plenty of them and the user interface is easy to use.
Once you've taken a look at that then you can download the set of brushes I created from my Sonic photos by clicking on the Parker Brand below. Enjoy them! -O