The situation all creative professionals dread…
This week I have been suffering from a touch of the dreaded creative block. Not – thankfully – the crippling ‘complete and utter’ type that stops you in your creative tracks. But a struggle with one particular creative problem, a design for a flyer. It’s the kind of situation all creative professionals dread, and yet it is inevitable when art is made to order in a commercial setting.
To try and push past this problem, I began working through my methods for finding creative inspiration – and that inspired me to share them with you! Over the years these 7 strategies have helped me out of more than one creative jam, and they definitely helped get my flyer project back on track.
1. Scope out some art
Pretty obvious. But beyond looking at other examples from your own field try looking at examples of other creative disciplines – fine art, fashion, visual merchandising, photography and graphic design can all provide amazing cross-discipline inspiration. No time to head out and hit the galleries? A quick half hour on Pinterest might just do the job.
2. Get back to nature
Not only is nature inspiring for its beauty, but being immersed in a natural environment and taking the time to study what you see there – really see what you are looking at – is an excellent mindfulness technique that can help cut through the pressure of the deadline.
3. Sleep on it
If you can, take a step back from the creative problem you are trying to solve and let it hover at the back of your consciousness while you go about your day. Giving ideas the chance to arrive organically is always a nice way to start the creative process, when time allows. This one is my go-to for all projects!
4. Do something else
Doing something physical like going for a walk, exercising, pulling weeds or cleaning is a great way to clear the creative cobwebs. Just not for too long… because then it becomes procrastination!
5. Blind contour drawings
This is the kind of exercise you do when you take a drawing or painting class, and it’s also a fantastic stress buster. But drawing something from life using one continuous line, and without looking at your page is also a fantastic way to free your brain and get the creative juices flowing. This is one I did this week while wrestling with creative block, and it’s really interesting to see how the line weight and style changes as I start to relax into it. It was a really useful exercise, and at the end of it I was able to scribble a concept for my flyer on the back.
6. Change up your concepting strategy
Do you prefer to thumbnail on paper? Maybe it’s time to fire up the computer. Mired down in a digital wasteland? Why not break out the pencils? Sometime you just gotta change it up a bit to get things moving, and it could be as simple as switching from a pencil to a felt tip. You never know!
7. Work on another creative project
Working on another project within the same discipline can sometimes move things along. I find nailing another project can be a great boost! But if you find yourself totally blocked, you can try flexing your creative muscles in a totally different field – painting, sculpting, crafting, writing, cooking, singing or playing an instrument – whatever your bag is. But again… not for too long! Set a timer so you don’t fall into the procrastination zone.
When inspiration proves elusive it can leave you chasing your own tail. The lack of ideas can cause so much stress that you end up even further away from the right state of mind for creative thinking. These are my sure-fire ways of battling the block – but what’s your favourite strategy for finding lost inspiration? Let me know in the comments section.
In the meantime – happy creating!