Tips for Designers on How To Increase Creativity

Creatives live with fear. When they make a living by their creativity, they know there will be times when that “muse” takes a vacation. And sometimes those vacations are at the worst times – clients want to see progress; deadlines are looming. We’ve probably all read the lists of things we should do when we are experiencing a block – take a walk, doodle, free write, go to a museum, etc. And sometimes these work because sometimes we just need a break to clear our heads. Sometimes, however, these don’t work, and we need something else. So here are six additional tips for designers that are different from the normal interventions.

Tip #1: Cross-Pollinate

Bees do it – that’s how we keep getting new plants and flowers. This tip requires that you do some pre-planning for those “vacations.” Writers need to take an art class or two; musicians need to take some art classes, and designers need to take a creative writing class or learn how to play an instrument. The idea behind this has some basis in science. Creative activities activate the same regions of the brain. As a designer, if you have developed other creative outlets, you can move to those during your “dry” times. Write a poem or a funny blog post; pick up that guitar or harmonica and play.

Tip #2: Get Around Non-Creatives

Yes, this does sometimes work. When you only surround yourself with other creatives, your periods of block can produce only more anxiety. They are producing, and you are not. Go to lunch or happy hour with friends or family members who have non-creative careers/jobs. This gives your creative brain regions some rest. Engage in totally superfluous conversation, and don’t talk about your work at all. The vacuum may be filled with some creative ideas that will pop up later.

Tip #3: Stop Going to Museums

This is a standard “cure.” You’re supposed to go to museums, study the art, and suddenly the idea for a design will hit. Yes, that may happen. But how about looking for art in other places? Take a drive and look at billboards – there are some really cool ones these days. How about a drive through a city (if you live near one) and a look at all of the graffiti that adorns building walls? Or better, visit a tattoo parlor and have a look at all of the designs that people can adorn their bodies with.

Tip #4: Keep a Jigsaw Puzzle on Hand at All times

This may not seem like an activity that will stimulate your creative juices. After all, it is just a picture of some sort cut up into 500-1000 small pieces that you must now put together. Here’s the thing about these puzzles. You have to focus on color and patterns. These are key elements of design. So while you are engaged in a task that you see as tedious, your brain is registering other things.

Tip #5: Get Adult Coloring Books

This is perhaps one of the best concepts to be introduced recently. They are touted as ways for stressed people to reduce their anxiety. But they also present patterns and color to the designer who is perhaps looking for new combinations, cool design patterns, and experimentation.

Tip #6: Cook a Meal

Go online and find exotic recipes. Or experiment with your own old boring recipes. Just going to the produce department of a grocery store will expose you to design shapes, colors and textures. When you actually get your hand on them and begin to peel and chop, you will see the wonderful symmetry of nature and the deign possibilities. Plus, the very act of creative cooking should excite you. It’s hard to know from where the next great idea will come, but this is certainly a possibility.

Breaking through a creative block is a very personal thing. What works for one will not work for another. And what works one time will not work the next. The important thing is that you have a repertoire of tricks in your bag to try. Add these six tips for designers as more options.