Natural creativity is a lot of bull. Yes, some people may have more innate creative and artistic ability, but the truth is creativity is as much a skill as it is a natural talent. It’s something that must be practiced and developed. Unfortunately, even the most talented artists and designers find themselves struggling in this area.
If you are a designer who feels as if they have worked through all of their best ideas and have hit a wall, you aren’t alone. It’s difficult to keep up with a demanding profession and keep your creative juices flowing. If you feel as if you've been “phoning it in” lately, check out these 15 powerful hacks for designers to be more ingenious.
1. Get Active in The Design Community
There is no shortage of online design communities and websites where people can interact with other creative types. These communities are great for exchanging ideas, asking for critiques, and giving and receiving support and inspiration. Graphic Design Forum has been around for ages, is a well respected community, and is still quite active.
2. Repurpose an Old Project and Give it New Life
Go back into your archives and find an old project. Then, give it a makeover. Use design techniques that you have picked up since you completed it. Apply different styles and concepts. You can redo the project completely or just focus on a single element such as color scheme.
3. Pursue a Variety of Creative Interests
Creativity produces creativity. The more time you spend immersed in creative pursuits the better. These don’t have to screen based either. Knit, refinish furniture, work your way through the Joy of Cooking, make a collage, build with legos, get some graph paper and design your ideal home, or plan a flower garden.
4. Take an Art Class
Is there an art form you haven’t tried, and would like to master? Why not take a class? Check out your local community college, art museum, or community center. Many of these places offer weekend and evening art classes. For just a few dollars, you may find a way to kick start your creative juices. Don’t feel obligated to take a class that relates to your profession. Choose something that you will enjoy doing.
5. Teach an Art or Design Class
Teaching your creative skills to others is another great way to boost your own creativity, and find a bit of inspiration from your students. Even if you don’t have an advanced degree, you can often teach junior college and continuing education courses. Your local library may be willing to work with you on teaching a course there as well.
If you work for a corporation, speak to HR or your supervisor. If you have advanced skills to pass onto other employees, they may be willing to help you create a design course.
6. Add More Constraints
Limitations drive creativity. Think about it. You’re in the kitchen in the midst of cooking a meal when you realize you’re missing a key ingredient. If running back to the store isn’t an option, you have to get creative. Take a design project, and try to finish it with as few tools as possible. Or, get creative and challenge yourself by placing other limitations. You may be surprised at what you can do with very little.
7. Delegate Tasks That Don’t Involve Creativity
Try to offload as many tasks as you can that don’t work your creative muscles. Pass on accounting and administrative tasks to an assistant. If you are continuing your formal education, consider how that might be cutting into your time and brain space. A service like GrabMyEssay can help you free up more time for creating and designing.
8. Explore Museums and Go to Concerts
Consume art that is made by others. Go to your local art museum. Attend concerts, and go see artists that you’ve never heard of. Browse through art galleries. Go to the theater. Attend a film festival. Rent movies that are known for their cinematography. Let art in all of its forms inspire your creativity.
9. Put Pencil to Paper
Technology is great. Design tools are wonderful. However, there is something very special about the process that occurs when you put pencil to paper. Writing and drawing by hand directly impacts the brain. It boosts creativity, and improves processing.
If you prefer to keep such primitive methods away from your professional projects, that’s fine. You should still spend time each week drawing, sketching, and writing by hand.
10. Grab a Notebook and Force Yourself to See Design in Everyday Objects
Take a notebook with you when you leave the house each morning. Then, challenge yourself to find 10 different examples of design in both nature and common everyday objects. This might include finding symmetry in the way a flower blooms, noticing positive and negative space in a grove of trees with the sun behind them, or simply noticing the intricacy and detail in something as simple as a hand-carved door.
11. Change Your Routine
If you do the same things in the same order, every single day, you will throw yourself into a rut. It’s like living in a constant state of highway hypnosis even when you aren’t driving. Have you ever arrived at work in the morning, and then realized you don’t remember much at all about getting ready, eating breakfast, or even making your way into work?
Your brain doesn’t have to do much if you don’t change things up. Wake it up by purposefully creating changes in your life. Hit the gym in the morning, instead of late at night. Take a different route to work. Do some design work for an hour when you get to work, then check your email.
Be warned, you will run into road bumps. You may forget things or just feel a bit disoriented. Just remember that you are, in a way, reawakening your brain and causing new synapses to fire.
12. Plan a Vacation
Try planning out your dream vacation. Where would you visit? Which hotels would you stay in? What would you go and see each day? Where would you eat?
Remember that this is all fantasy and an attempt to get your imagination going. So, don’t worry about logistics like booking rooms or prices. Instead, focus on finding out about exotic places, looking at pictures for inspiration, and planning your days. Fantasizing and daydreaming are amazing for your imagination and creativity. There is a good reason why children are so creative. They pretend!
13. Make a Collection of Inspirational Things
Install Pocket or Dropbox on your phone, and carry a notebook with you. When you read, see, or hear something that is beautiful, interesting, unusually functional, or inspiring, add it to your collection. The app will allow you to store digital inspiration. The notebook will allow you to make note of the inspiration that can’t be shared digitally.
Don’t be afraid to be creative. If you see cool lettering on a restaurant menu, take a picture with your phone, but also attempt to hand draw it as well. If you see a textured wall or other surface that would make a great background, make a rubbing as well as getting a photo.
Once a week take an hour or so to go through your collection. Sort new items out, categorize them, and label them. Make note of when they might be useful inspiration for you. Pinterest is also a great tool for collecting inspiration.
14. Travel And Explore New Places
If you are open minded and interested about other people and cultures, you can gain plenty of creative inspiration by traveling and exploring new places. Eat new foods, meet and talk with other people, explore the creative works that another culture contributes to the world.
If you don’t have the money or time to leave your area, that’s okay too. If you live in a city, explore neighborhoods you have never visited. Go to their restaurants. Attend their cultural events.
If that’s not doable, hit the internet. Explore places around the world through online travel guides. Research what is trending in design all over the world.
15. Create a Pretend Design Project
It’s always a good idea to have a pet project that exists only for your enjoyment and education. Try creating a make believe company. Design a logo. Select the perfect font for the website. Create the layout for the home page. Get creative, and write a history of the company so that you can build an About Us page. Sketch out some product ideas.
As you work, try to use tools and techniques that you aren’t able to on a daily basis. Break the rules that you have to follow during the work day. Take chances. Make mistakes. Learn as much as you can. It’s helpful to pursue your craft for enjoyment as well as a means of making money.
Get your creativity back, and start enjoying your work more! Try these fifteen powerful, creativity boosting activities. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling more creative and more inspired.
How do you find inspiration for your latest project? Share your creativity ideas and inspiration in the I Designed It, I built It forum on GrabCAD Groups.