Saturday, March 12, 2011

Creative Workspaces and Inspiration to Create Your own!

One of the best things you can do to get your creative juices flowing is to surround yourself with things that make you feel creative! You are the master of your own environment. In order to inspire you in putting together a creative workspace that you will ENJOY entering, view the videos and images below of creative cubicles and workspaces form CNN's iReports, as well as workspaces from some of the most famous writers. Enjoy!

Creative Cubicles - CNN's iReports
This cubicle houses a huge gnome collection - over 700 of them. There's also a bouncy ball collection and a dice collection. 

Here’s someone who started out bringing in a few knick-knacks and ended up with this:
This person decorated their cubicle in response to a contest his company was holding for 'Best Decorated Cubicle'. He turned his workspace into a beautiful Seregeti inspired safari cubicle!
This is the 'Red Mahogany Luxury Cubicle'. It is paneled and floored with Dark Cherry floors and Mahogany walls.
The creator of this workspace calls it 'Lulu's Casita'.
This looks more to me like a creative practical joke than a real workspace. A co-worker was always blaming others for his mistakes and he became known as 'The Bus Driver' in the group, since he was got it...throwing others under the bus. His coworkers turned his cubicle into a bus complete with working a working door and flashing red lights.
Who wouldn't want to work here? It's like working on a beach! Literally.
This is my favorite since it's Star Wars related. This cubicle began with a model of the Millenium Falcon and grew from there. The owner decided to ad Darth Vader to the mix later on, and it built until the walls were draped with black fabric spray painted with glitter and the Imperial Fleet started to show up. Yikes!
This person is Christmas Happy! 
One for those Halloween lovers (like me).

Writer’s Workspaces

This is the room where the Bronte sisters used to write and discuss their work with each other. When the novelist, Elizabeth Gaskell, visited, she said this, "The room looked like the perfection of warmth, snugness, and comfort." A perfect place to get creative in (notice it's not cluttered up!).

Rudyard Kipling's Study
Andrew Motion's bare desk-top and an indian goodluck charm!

Battle 'Designer's Block' with 11 ways to be Creative

Integraphix, offering the best in Chicago Graphic Design and Brand Identity Solutions.

Ever heard of writers block? Well designers get it too. If we are not inspired, it is entirely possible to experience what I've come to call (rather un-creatively) 'designer's block'. Everybody has experienced it and nobody is safe from it. But there are some things you can do if you're frustrated and having issues moving forward with a design you're working on or having trouble getting started on a project. I've compiled a list of things you should to to battle and overcome designer's block. Enjoy.

1. Stop and Relax. Allow your creativity to bubble up to the surface of your mind. If you learn to pause, worthwhile ideas will catch up to you. Never underestimate the role of relaxation, play and leisure. Creativity can't happen if you're stressed!

2. Forget what you've learned in college. A lot of what our art and design education system is built upon is the 'guess what the teacher is thinking' game. Michael Meyerhoff, the author of "The Plural of Leaf is Tree" explains that "there is a significant difference between doing well in school and actual learning." There are kids that get a thrill out of manipulating knowledge that is given to them and not actually acquiring that knowledge. However, the 'correct' answer is often preferred by teachers over creative answers.As Beatrix Potter said: "Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality."
3. Don't fall in love with the first thing you design. If you become to attached to your creations, you'll fail to see how they can evolve and turn into something truly revolutionary.
4. Stop waiting for inspiration. Grab it by the horns! If you want to be inspired at 9am every morning, do so.

5. Follow Roger van Oeck's Advice. This brilliant man wrote a book called A Kick in the Seat of the Pants and discusses the four roles of the creative process: Explorer, Artist, Judge, Warrior.

- The Explorer: When it's time to see out new information, take on the mindset of an explorer. Move off the beaten path, look everywhere, be curious and pay attention.

- The Artist. When you need to create a new idea, let this persona show. Ask the 'what if' questions and look for hidden meanings. Break the rules that have been drilled into your head and look at things in a different light. Exaggerate something. Look at it backwards. Do whatever you can to get out of your own single perspective.

- The Judge. when it's time to decide if your idea is worth developing, or if there's anything that needs to be added or taken away, see yourself as the decision maker. Ask what's wrong, look at your design from the perspective of a stranger and see if anything could be done. If so, make a decision and move forward.

- The Warrior! When you put your idea into action, be the warrior. Get excited! Eliminate all excuses and insecurities and do what you have to do to reach your goals.

6. Realize that the mind's 'default mode' is to be 'un'-creative. The mind is uncreative by habit; it is constantly organizing mass abouts of incoming data from our environment into convenient patterns that we understand. Once this is done, the mind tends to dwell on future situations in order to make decisions and actions. What does that mean? You have to be proactive when it comes to being original.

7. Don't let criticism get you down. Consider the following quote from Von Oech's book" Expect the Unexpected (or You Won't Find It)": "Dogs bark at what they don't understand." Ignore it and move on to people who appreciate your work even if they don't 'get it'.
8. Exaggerate. Think BIG: what if you had to create a billboard that 2 million people would see every day? Think small: Anyone can create a 8.5x11 advertisement. But can you create a 1x1 painting? Take a look at Adele Lack's amazing micro-paintings and see for yourself. -

9. Go Back to the Basics. Get off the computer and pick up a pencil and notepad. There's something about brand new, crisp drawing paper and a sharp B pencil that gets the creative juices flowing.

10. Ask ridiculous questions. Don't be afraid of it either. Not knowing is much worse! Think of Scott Ginsberg wearing a nametag for a seminar and thinking to himself, "What if I just kept this thing on my shirt every day?" He started to wear his nametag every day, which has so far lead to two books published, over eighty newspaper and magazine articles, more than 100 speeches and countless tv interviews. It's how he pays his bills. Really.

11. Look for alternate ways to approach a project. Most people stop looking for solutions to a problem if they find something that works. Don't stop at that first solution: think about different perspectives, and other ways of thinking. It will broaden your horizons a bit and open you up to knew and perhaps unthought of possibilities.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Are business cards still necessary?

Integraphix, the premier Chicago Marketing Company

In the era of BlackBerrys, instant contact lists, and online marketing techniques, the paper business card can be seen by a newer generation as little more than archaic. Are you hopelessly behind the times by carrying them around?

The answer is no. In a world where most communication between business and clients is electronic, the more personable business card is a tangible and powerful way to marketing yourself in person. The key to effectively using a business card is to have one that people remember. It should be informative but contain elements of your brand and sum it up at a glance.

Social Media gets most of the 'press hype' these days, but the real truth is that the vast majority of business interaction in the United States takes place face to face! Most (small) business owners still communicate with customers and partners personally at networking events, clubs or other social events.

In every circumstance, exchanging a business card remains a formal and primary way of interacting in a business setting. It also enabled the person you were speaking with to remember you, the name of your business, and can often seal the deal. How often have you been introduced to a prospective lead and forgot their name within minutes? It is important that have that connection in order to keep the contacts you get.

Getting to the fun part of this post: How do you make your business card memorable? Business cards are a tried-and-true method of marketing, but they've changed drastically since our mothers and fathers handed out their 2x3.5 black on white business card. There are infinite possibilities and stylishly creative examples of business cards (here are examples of amazing business cards) that you can choose from that would make your prospective client's eyes pop out of their head. In the end they'll probably choose you because of your business card.

In comparison to the edgy and 'pushing the envelope' type of business cards are the simple, two color business cards that say 'We are classic and professional'. Even so, the card should include modern methods of contacting you including email and website if applicable. A good Graphic Designer can integrate that information with your logo design and other details to make sure your card showcases to the best it can in such a small space.

It is incredibly cool to have a 3x3 square business card with die-cuts and shiny metallics, but please make sure your clients can fit them into their wallets or business card cases with ease or they may get lost or worse, thrown out. Also try to avoid glossy finishes as it is difficult to write notes on.

Lastly, don't horde your cards! Pass them out and get in the habit of handing them out liberally. They don't do you any good hiding in your desk drawer.

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Integraphix is a Chicago Marketing Company that provides the best in Graphic Design, Web Design, Brand Identity, and Search Engine Optimization in Chicago.