Graphic designers are constantly challenged to think of new and inventive ideas for our clients. Finding yourself in a creative rut from time to time is not uncommon — I know I’ve certainly been there!
One of my clients recently was curious to know: “How do you dream up so many ideas in a day and do it all over again the next day?” This got me thinking about the concept of perpetual creativity. Is there a secret to keeping the creative juices flowing? Well, I may not have the universal secret that works for everyone, but I can share what I’ve learned that works for me.
Here are four things that might help keep that light bulb above YOUR head glowing (and of course, magically hovering.)
1. STAY INSPIRED.
One of the easiest ways to keep fresh in a creative industry is to spend time exploring things that really EXCITE you. It sounds obvious, but many of us work so hard at the computer all day, that we don’t take the time to be inspired. When ideas get old and stale, finding those valuable sources of inspiration can add the spark you need. Building a collection of go-to sources that never fail to inspire you can be useful to recover from creative block quickly. But in order to think beyond the expected, sometimes you need to broaden your perspective. Exploring unfamiliar and unconventional sources of inspiration can lead to unique ideas. After all, how can you “think differently”, if you always reach out to the same old sources?
One thing that always pushes me to stay creative is to discover what others are creating. Admire the creativity around you and collect thoughts, influences, imagery, and details. The result will be a rich arsenal from which you can draw inspiration for new ideas. You’ll find yourself filled with the ambition to create.
2. ALWAYS BE CURIOUS.
Many people working in a creative field have naturally inquisitive minds; they may enjoy taking things apart, figuring out how things work or solving puzzles and problems. This part of the brain functions like a muscle. The more you utilize it and flex it, the stronger it becomes. I believe curiosity fuels the creative process and leads to the invention of the next “big idea.” The curious designer is one who is not satisfied with the straightforward obvious design approach. They delve deeper, deconstruct, reconstruct, and explore multiple creative approaches, resulting in an informed and smart design solution. Sometimes the lack of a unique solution is simply not understanding the problem clearly. Curiosity will broaden your perspective, open up your imagination, and lead to a mountain of new ideas.
3. BOLDLY GO!
Let’s say you’re Jacoby Ellsbury, and it’s the 2007 World Series. If you steal 2nd base, everyone in the country gets a free taco. BUT that isn’t going to happen unless you take your foot off first base. Sometimes making a bold impact requires you to take a leap. Take a risk with a crazy idea. If you take that idea scribbled down on a napkin and explore its larger possibilities it could lead to a hugely successful idea.
Think about it: would your design work be visually and conceptually provoking enough to bring in new business if you always played it safe? Sticking with solutions that have worked for you in the past is a safe bet. But challenging yourself to think big, experiment, and show clients unconventional ideas can have big creative rewards — for both you and your clients. Playing it safe every day is not the recipe for perpetual creativity. Strive for the next awesome idea each time.
4. POWER DOWN & RECHARGE.
The idea of perpetual creativity almost sounds exhausting and robotic! If our job requires us to be creative each and every day, then we need time to recharge our creative batteries. Otherwise, we’ll be robots recycling old ideas. We’ll be presenting ordinary and expected solutions. Basically, just make things look “pretty” without actually addressing our client’s business and design challenges. This is why so many creative agencies devote office space to recharging. It helps keep creative minds from getting burnt out. I’ve seen everything from foosball tables and basketball hoops to comfy couches with magazines and yoga sessions.
Each person on the Jackrabbit team has his or her own way of recharging. For some of us, it means going for some fresh air in between projects or maybe taking an extended trip. Maybe it means doodling quietly or punching up the stereo. Or even enjoying ice cream or hitting the gym for an intense workout. Whatever it might be, the important part is that we all understand the importance of healthy work and play balance. Not only working hard for our clients but also preventing creative burnout. So we can have the energy we need for perpetual creativity and to be creative all over again tomorrow!