Friday, January 7, 2011


10 Ways to Rev-up Your Creativity

As designers, we’re responsible to come up with graphic solutions in all of our projects. There can be many projects at once and sometimes the creative juices can dwindle. It can be hard to come up with ingenious ideas all the time. We can all get tired and burned-out at times which is pretty normal and natural in all areas of the creative industry.

What’s a designer to do to get those creative juices flowing again? Here are some ideas that can be tried to rev-up the process:

1. Pick Up A Pencil
Remember the pencil? Remember the sketch book? Doodling and sketching, even about nothing in particular, can be very freeing and cause some great ideas to come out of your hand. Just sit down and draw. It’s good to get thoughts and ideas down on paper and can actually lead to something great.

2. Read Design Magazines
There are so many design magazines out there. A lot of them have some great design solutions and articles contained that can spark some creativity to get things going again. There are many design experts that contribute articles and ideas to the magazines and sometimes they may get a stuck designer, well, unstuck.

3. Go To A Museum
If you’re in an urban area, there are many museums around that you can go to. They don’t necessarily have to be art museums, but a trip to a modern art museum should get some ideas pumped out for you. It’s always good to get out, clear your mind, and just let things happen at the museum. We can admire, criticize, and simply experience the talent and beauty that is all around these places.

4. Listen To Others
How often do we listen to others? In the design business, there are many colleagues out there that have the same trials and tribulations that you do. Talk to them. Get into their heads about their art and work. What do they do? How do they work? I’m not saying to steal ideas from them, just get some dialogue going. What about instructors at school? I know you have to listen them in class all the time, but maybe a private, relaxed conversation will produce some new thoughts and ideas. People that have been in the business for awhile have lots of experience and can really help.

5. Take A Break
Stressed? Burned-out? Then, take a break. Just a break. Get up, get away from that computer, and do something else. Watch TV, read a book, do something that is not even related to design or anything that you’re working on. It’s OK to take a break from a project sometimes. Many times, during these downtimes, ideas and thoughts can creep into your head that may be a solution to something you’ve been searching for.

6. Go Freeform
Similar to picking up a pencil, going freeform is getting out those colored pencils, markers, and even crayons to get out some ideas. Use vibrant colors. Go crazy, there are no rules to going freeform. Be a kid again. Remember how imaginative we were then? It’s fun and can really free up a blocked mind. Who knows, you may even find another method of doing your work. Another way of going freeform is to dance and sing. Just be crazy and let the results flow in.

7. Look At Other Work
Do you have a guru of the design world that you simply love? Do you love what they’ve done in their career and feel some attachments to them? Look at their work and see what they’ve done. Once again, we don’t copy their work, but we can get ideas and inspiration from them. Look at fine artists’ work and see what they’ve done. Painters, sculptors, and photographers have a lot of talent and their ingenuity can be of benefit to all of us.

8. Look At The Environment
The world outside has a multitude of things going on. Trees, parks, grass, beaches, oceans, and wildlife can be very refreshing and inspirational. Open your mind, take a big breath of fresh air, and walk around outside. Architecture and other man-made things can be truly beautiful as well. Don’t expect anything, just get out there and do it.

9. Look At Those Old Design Books
Remember the old design books we had to read through school? It’s OK to pull them out again and take a look. There may be some things in those old books that you forgot about and may be useful to you now. Not only textbooks, but design and art books of all types can be really nice to look at and read. Don’t have any? Remember the library.

10. Meditate
When all else fails, it’s good to sit down and meditate. Turn everything off, sit comfortably in peace and quiet, and open your mind. Push out all thoughts and just be you. Don’t worry about anything when you’re sitting in the quiet, just sit and be in the moment. It can be hard to do this if you’re not in the practice of meditating, but, with practice, it can be really good and freeing. It’s also very good for your overall mental and physical health.

Still stuck?

Don’t worry, it’s OK. Things will come back to you. We all go through cycles of creativity and can’t be a super-star all the time. If you try any or all of the ideas discussed above, you may get through the down times a little quicker and may even come up with the best design solution you’ve had yet.

Featured Author:
Mike Lenhart
After spending almost 15 years in the corporate, sales and marketing area of the hospitality industry, Mike Lenhart decided to pursue his passion for visual creativity and make a jump to graphic design and visual communications. Founder and Principal of ML Designs, a freelance-based and outsourced graphic design company and also Founder and Director of Creative Core, a graphic design collaborative, Mike can now use his business and marketing acumen in solving design problems for his clients. He also likes to write about the interesting, unusual, and sometimes irritating happenings in the graphic design world.
More articles from this author:
Avoiding Mistakes as a Graphic Design Freelancer
Finding the Right Design Gig
Tips for Design Grads During Hard Times

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