Saturday, March 12, 2011

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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