As a graphic and web designer I often run into design jobs that do not allow me to be overly creative with the design. I try to follow these 10 tips to keep the creative juices flowing.
These tips can be applied to many creative positions and are in no specific order (except #1):
- Design for yourself
I have created and taken down many websites for myself over the years (100’s I would guess) just to try new designs, technologies and ideas. I found this to be a necessary exercise to keep my brain going. When working with clients, there is always a limit on how truly creative you can get.
- Show a client something new
Don’t be afraid to show a client something that does not match their current brand template. They make like the new design better and decide to switch everything over to it.
- Keep a folder of design ideas and elements
You never know where and when they will be applied, but sometimes it is nice to pull a rabbit out of a hat for a client. I have created logos for clients that were a mixture of 10 different elements I had stored away.
- Read industry related magazines
Reading about new trends in your specific industry to help spark new ideas.
- Look at others people’s work without comparing yourself
Sites like deviatnART are great for sparking creative ideas (Please don’t copy them). These are also great for getting a feel for trending designs and seeing what’s “in” now.
- Blog and blog some more
When writing, ideas typically pour out of you in no specific order. The great thing is the ideas may not have anything to do with your blog topic and may come in handy down the road.
- Write your ideas down
It may not be an official design yet or not even needed now, but you really don’t want to forget a great idea. There are great apps like evernote that can sync these ideas everywhere for you so you never forget to look at them.
- Revisit some of your past work
Looking at your past work can spark some new ideas in your current work.
- Join a group related to your line of work
People are always willing to give you ideas and feedback on designs. Asking outsiders for constructive criticism is a great way to get honest feedback on your designs. When doing this, make sure to ask them to list at least 3 negative things to make sure the most honest feedback. Otherwise you will end up with 20 comments saying “this is awesome, great work, wouldn’t change a thing etc..”
- Go outside your comfort zone
Everyone’s world is typically only 50 kilometers small, we don’t travel outside our little world too often. Going for a 2 hour drive is not only relaxing, but you see and experience new things along the way that help get the creative juices flowing.
Designing for yourself is definitely the most important.
The great thing about this is just because it was not designed for a client does not mean you can not use it in your portfolio. I have designs in my portfolio that were mock-up designs for clients that I decided to use to show ability and creative thought. Just because the design was turned down by one client does not mean that it is not a good design. There are also other times I just opened my laptop, drew a few lines/shapes for no reason at all and found that I had an awesome design/idea in front of me in a short period of time.
In my photography portfolio, I have an item named “Cool Things“. This is just to show some extra creativity so any potential clients can see a little more of my creative side. I find that shooting for myself is also necessary. It is a learning tool that allows me to be creative and test all the angles, lighting scenarios and post editing fun that I can handle.
What do you do to stay creative? Leave a comment below.