Last Updated on April 8, 2016
Everyone’s heard of writer’s block. But are you familiar with designer’s block? It’s a similar mind trick. Designers concentrate so hard on trying to come up with creative and eye-catching designs that they temporarily lose their touch. Their creative juices run dry, and the harder they try to come up with a design, the more they struggle.
The good news is that designer’s block can be cured, whether you’re working on web sites for a home improvement company or electronic supply stores. As with writer’s block, you just need a bit of inspiration. Here’s where to look.
Look Around the Real World for Ideas
Too often web designers get caught up in the online world, when they should be looking around the real world for inspiration. The mind requires varied and different stimulation. You can’t go to the same sites over and over again and expect them to spark new ideas. You’re not some programmed robot that can constantly pump out new material by using mathematical algorithms. You’re a human being.
There isn’t an algorithm for creativity and new ideas. And, there aren’t any mathematical equations that’ll guarantee new ideas to pop inside your head.
I often find myself coming up with new ideas, when I’m out and about. I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well.
Try visiting an art gallery, checking out a sculpture garden, going for a nature walk, or even heading to a local coffee house with interesting collages on the wall. Think about different ways that you could translate inspiration from real life objects into your designs.
Every day, there are thousands of little things that need to be done, ten clients to be handled and more design-related issues than our mind can fathom. However, tackling all of these, within their deadlines, and coming out alive at the other end requires a lot of stamina and mental strength. However, at the end of such a day, when your boss suddenly hands you another urgent task, do you shut down?
In the average scenario, you see mediocre work, poor execution and horrendous ideas. At times, even the best agencies of graphic design in Brisbane, New York, Paris, Barcelona and London end up producing work they refuse to lay claim to. However, that not only has a lot to do with the kind of hours we work, but also with the amount of time we spend in thinking about it. If you think that ten different projects, on graphic design, are not monotonous, think again because that’s what your brain is telling you.
Step away from the computer. Take a walk, talk to a loved one or just grab a bite to eat. The moral is, get your mind off of work and when you are taking a break, make sure it is a break in the true sense of the word.
Visit a Design Forum
Writers frequently visit forums to exchange ideas and, yes, complain about their latest case of writer’s block. Designers can benefit from interaction with other designers as well. Sometimes all you need is a sympathetic ear — someone who says, “Yes, I’ve been having that same problem,” to put you at ease.
Better yet, you might find a new perspective on the design problem you can’t seem to solve. By batting ideas back and forth with someone else, you may come to the solution that eluded you when working alone.
In almost every case of designers’ block, you will find that coming up with ideas is extremely difficult. Nothing seems to come to mind because all you can see is the brief, the product/service/brand and the blank canvas that keeps getting “blanker”. Now, all this would be perfectly fine if there wasn’t a deadline hanging over your neck.
The fact is, when under pressure, designers tend to start thinking “execution” instead of thinking “inspiration”. Two hours of brainstorming might seem wasteful if you aren’t confident of finding something out at the end. Most designers, especially those who are affected by pressure, tend to overlook these inspiration-based exercises and focus on delivering work. Unfortunately, the output will always be sub-standard in such a case.
Eventually, it is a toss-up between brainstorming and just getting down to it. In every case, brainstormed ideas will always be better than what you force yourself to make. Yes, it gives you lesser time to create your design but eventually, you will find that the time you spend brainstorming will save you a lot of execution-time.
Browse Your Previous Designs
It’s always a great idea to revisit your old works. If you’re already an established designer, I’m certain you have a portfolio. Take a moment to browse through your previous works. Think about why and how those idea came to reality. Why did you design that logo a particular way? Why did you give that website a unique design? Questions like these should be pondered upon.
What about ideas that never came to life? These ideas are like unfinished sculptures. Go back in time and try to carve your sculpture, a.k.a. unfinished idea, into a great one. Think about why it wasn’t successful. Use the best qualities from that old ideas and think about them. Maybe they will come in handy for future projects. Write these tips down on a piece of paper.
Most designers would never think to use themselves as inspiration. If you’re a designer, you’re already a creative person. So why not look in the mirror for inspiration?
Consider Lateral thinking
Lateral thinking is a graphic designer’s best weapon. Thinking along unnatural or unusual lines opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the graphic designer. However, time pressures or unclear understanding of the brief may hamper the ability to think laterally. In most cases, designers focus so diligently on meeting the deadline that they choose inferior ideas and substandard execution.
Constantly training your brain to think laterally, in almost all circumstances, is a great way to tackle those tight deadlines. The thing is, if you are in the habit of thinking laterally, then no matter how short the duration is, you brain will automatically direct you in the right direction. Staying on top of the game, in design, is exactly the same as that for a professional athlete. You train so hard that everything comes naturally, like instinct, when the pressure’s on you.
Watch a Movie
It sounds like slacking off. But movies are a visual medium, and designers see them with a different eye than the rest of us. You may find inspiration in the way a scene is shot or even the blood spatter pattern during a murder mystery. You never know what will snap you out of your designer’s block.
These are just a few things that hamper the way we think under pressure and if you think that designers’ block is a serious illness, you haven’t tried it all. Frankly, if you want to become the best at something you do, you need to recover from the lows that hit you in professional life. Outsmart your designers’ block and then prepare yourself to take on the world.