Maximize Graphic Design Inspiration with 5 Creative Habits

December 14, 2013 General, Graphic Design

Maximize Graphic Design Inspiration with 5 Creative HabitsCreative online communities like Pinterest, Behance and Dribbble are like greenhouses for creative types, but following them excessively can actually stifle creativity and produce anxiety. The idea of creativity is romantic, but the reality of creativity is that it requires energy, devotion and grit. No amount of staring at design will make you a great designer.

To find more organic graphic design inspiration and refresh your desire to work, try these five creative habits:

1. Exchange computer time for sketchbook time.

Working with your hands stimulates the senses and boosts creativity. Have you ever wondered why art therapy is a legitimate field, but video game, TV and web browsing therapy aren’t? The overuse of technology can deprive the brain of physical processes that generate pleasure and pride, like making something by hand. Did you know that Steve Jobs planned his presentations by hand? Yes, one of the greatest technological innovators of our time used paper and a whiteboard. In his Forbes article “Want More Business Creativity? Pick Up the Pen,” Michel Theriault says, “It’s too easy to start creating without thinking. While many people can type faster than they write on paper and feel using a pen will slow them down, that’s actually the point when you are doing the upfront, creative thinking. When using your computer, it’s too easy to start creating before you’ve thought out and planned what you are trying to accomplish.”

To foster creative thought, use your hands. We’re not talking about using a mouse here—we’re talking about breaking out the paper, pens and watercolors in order to maximize graphic design inspiration.

2. Find or create an atmosphere that provides inspiration and engages your senses.

After you’ve grabbed your sketchbook, find places that inspire your sense of line, shape, layout, color and texture. Fabric stores, art museums, architecture and nature are excellent choices. See how unconventional you can get. Using two senses can also increase brain alertness—you may love coffee shops because ambient activity stimulates multiple senses but it’s subtle enough not to be distracting.

Use different places to your advantage, but don’t rely on them. The best artists don’t become victims of their circumstances but will create at any cost. How far are you willing to go for your art?

3. Assign your own projects with deadlines—and finish them.

If you want to fall out of love with graphic design, only do it when somebody makes you. This is also known as a job. Don’t wait for the ideal client or project to fall into your lap—be your own dream client and do the project you’ve been wanting to do. Experiment and bend the rules. Try a new color scheme or layout. There won’t be any consequences if it fails. Ask for feedback from a teacher or peer when you’re done.

Start with one personal project a month and then go from there. Self-assigned projects will not only build your portfolio but reinvigorate your passion for design and show you who you are creatively.

4. Create in community.

Don’t let competition isolate you away from the support you need the most—your fellow designers. Follow your favorite designers on social media, find Facebook groups, take extra classes and seek out faculty and classmates who have different design perspectives. Learn from each other. This is a discipline because artistic vulnerability is scary. Share your work and invite input; don’t limit your potential by avoiding critique.

5. Give yourself time.

The best designers know that creativity doesn’t make great artists—persistence does. Creativity without persistence only makes great thinkers. Don’t wait until you have more time; set aside time. Make a list of what you want to learn or set measurable project goals, and be patient with yourself in the learning process. We all want to take shortcuts on our way to the finish line, but learning how to code a beautiful site or use the right typefaces takes time.

There is a huge design world out there inviting you to discover, be inspired and create. Becoming friends with these five creative habits will allow you to enjoy it, freeing you from the unnecessary intimidation of learning curves and designer’s block.

Photo credit: Stock.xchng