The Designer’s block (and I’m not talking about Lego…)
I love my job: I love creating, refining my ideas and even coding.
But sometimes coming out with a good, fresh and – most important – new idea is a painful process.
I like to associate it to childbirth: you know something beautiful and unique will pop out sooner or later, but in the meantime you’re suffering because you’re not there yet. Afterwards, all the pain is forgotten and, while looking at your new born creature, you are looking forward to working on the next one.
People who know me have learnt that I need to be left alone, otherwise I’ll shout horrible things to them.
But sometimes you’ve gone past your due date: not matter how much you are pushing, nothing comes out.
Especially since I’ve been freelancing full time (and I can’t share n. 5 with my colleagues anymore), sometimes I need to fight the “It-That-Must-Not-Be-Named”, the Creative Block.
The following doesn’t want to be a doctor’s prescription: it’s just some tricks I’m using, in random order. Pick the one that suits you or just try everything :).
- Go out and meet people you don’t know
With our design projects we are building brand personalities or telling brand stories, so why not listening to real ones?
I’m saying this as an introvert: you don’t have to be a good talker, just a good listener.
- Ask yourself questions
Sometimes I don’t have ideas because I didn’t fully understand the brief but I’m not aware of it, probably because the time is ticking and I’m in a hurry.
So ask yourself: what is it for? Who are the people I need to reach? What are they likely doing in this moment? What is the core value and my role in it? And so on.
As this video shows, procrastination could be a rather creative thing. Set a time frame in which you can draw cats, rearrange the fruit bowls according a colour scheme or draw a portrait made of numbers. Afterwards you’ll see things in a new perspective.
- Set yourself boundaries
It’s not true that creativity means absolute freedom: creativity needs boundaries to play within, boundaries to stretch.
If your client hasn’t a clear idea of what he/she wants, try to ask them directions to narrow things down (usually the “what you like/don’t like” works well).
- Weep and then weep again
There’s no point in hiding it: I’m not perfect and now I’m having a creative block. Sigh.
- Browse online and look for things that excite you
and make you say “I wish I’ve done that”.
It doesn’t matter if it’s related to your brief or not… it’s important that it gives you that tickling sensation at the back of your head: suddenly your pen will be moving fast on your tablet.
These are my Fab Four: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/, http://www.itsnicethat.com/, http://www.swiss-miss.com/, http://trendland.com/
- Go out and do windows shopping or see that exhibition you’re longing for
Probably this works only if you live in a big city like London, but for me a pilgrimage to Selfridges’ windows displays is a mind-washing trip like going to the British Museum and browse through the Egyptian sarcophagi.
- Start again
If a relationship doesn’t work, it won’t. If an idea doesn’t, it won’t.
- Complete a small and rather unuseful task
It gives you the feeling that your day is accomplished and now you can relax and simply create.
- Go out and walk
So a research at Stanford University suggests. At least, at the end of the day the keep-fit task is ticked off and we can only worry about the brief.
- Pick one element of the brand you’re working on and focus on that
Nice font? Do a typography-based project. Nice colour palette? Stick on that.
- Watch the entire box of your favourite TV series (weekend only)
At the end you will so bored that you can’t wait to work again on that impossible brief.