Sometimes you just don't have it. For creative professionals and entrepreneurs you can't wait for creative ideas to drop out of the sky. So here are my 10 tips on how you can spark your creativity by controlling your environment.
Let it go Having a dry spell is normal and it can be all too easy to question ourselves and wonder if we ever had the juice at all. Whether you're a fine artist or a worker bee it's okay and expected to hit a wall. Accept it and apply the following tips to get your mojo back.
Go outside One of my go-to methods of clearing a mental block is to get out of my office and go run an errand. Something as simple as picking up a few odds and ends at the grocery store can give you a chance to see something new, a label, a box, a face in the crowd. I know I've prone to relying on the internet and Google image search to feed me a variety of images and content to help my creative process along but as with anything, your body gets used to it. Humans need novelty and new experiences to formulate new ideas.
Write it out Besides graphic design I enjoy creative writing as a hobby. I write down my thoughts, I write poems, lyrics and short stories when the mood strikes me and often that change up will ignite my imagination in ways nothing else could've. Do you have hobby's that can help you think of the world in a new way? Maybe it's time to pick up the book you bought last year and dedicate yourself to reading a few pages when you've gotten stuck on a creative task.
Set the soundtrack It's common knowledge now that listening to music while we work can be a great way to stay focused but lets go one step further. When I'm designing a logo for a Punk Rock inspired Bar I play The Ramones and The Stooges. When I'm designing flyers for London based Interior Staging company Yohan May I want them to feel elegant, light and refined so I play classical music. I'm not a scientist but my theory is obviously that I can help myself achieve a feel by choosing music that matches the mood I want my client and their audience to have.
Chase trends in your niche A great way I stay creative is to chase trends in my free time. For instance, some graphic design trends come and go like using gradients or using flat designs in logos. Sometimes the new, hot thing is the perfect way for me to learn more about tools in Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign I've never had use for. The 1 hour I spend one or two nights a week doing something experimental just to post to Instagram show up in my work immediately. It's the best way I've found to deepen my bag of tricks and ensure that I'm never caught of guard by design trends.
Reach out to other designers There are events where great designers gather to share their ideas and that's an amazing time to be influenced by people in your field and (refer back to tip 2) get out of the office. I personally work from home most of the time and have very few natural intersections with other designers in person so attending conventions, talks and exhibitions are my opportunity to trade business cards and my competitive spirit takes it from there.
Watch tutorials There are many ways to learn now and perhaps the greatest of all for designers like myself is the Youtube tutorial. Short and sweet, these tutorials introduce more techniques and mastery to whatever your skill is. I am a firm believer that education never ends and on the job training is not the same as good old fashion lessons.
Imitate and recreate They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Sometimes we see something so impressive, so perfect, our belief in our own abilities is shaken. Why not test yourself? Copy the design and see if you can reproduce it. This way you'll know that you are at least technically capable of making something that would blow you away and that's a great encouragement when the well has run dry.
Do the opposite Sometimes the time we spend staring down the same work hour after hour and it can be enough to drive one crazy. We can hit a dead end with our concepts and our creativity dries up. In those cases it can be useful to grind on taking work you've just done and reversing the layout. Change the verticals to horizontals, change the black to white and circles to squares. This is one of my last resort methods of moving the work forward without relying on an epiphany to get me one more version of a design. Along the way I often find a new way idea that matches the reversed design.
Go back to basics My creative career started on paper and when I live and work with digital tools all day long it can be refreshing to press pencil to paper and sketch again. A lot of money goes into state of the art tools that do all they can to give us the same feedback we get using pencil and paper. From Wacom tablets to ipads we're sold the appeal of pen and pad because we're wired to flow so well in that format. So I pull out my fine art tools and draw, paint, sketch me way back to a great idea before sitting back down at the computer.