Daniel Nisbet

Episode 65  |  August 17, 2018

How Do You Stay Creative?

Staying creative. It's one of those things as a designer that we're all tasked with doing. There's moments in our work day where we feel like there's nothing we can do wrong. Then there are the moments that drag on forever and feel like we don't have any good ideas left.

As frustrating as it is, we do have to find ways to stay creative— after all we need to keep a roof over our heads. So what do you do to stay creative?

Take a break

I know this sounds a little bit counterproductive. Sometimes when I hit the creative wall, it's because I'm staring at something for too long and not realizing it. By getting up, walking away and changing my environment, it gets my brain away from what I'm working on. I can use a new view or surrounding to shift my way of thinking or approach.

I liken being creative to running. If you run for a long time, eventually you get tired. You have to periodically stop and take a break. Creativity seems to work the same way. It's amazing how refreshed I feel when I get back to the project I was initially stuck on after a break.

Do something non-creative

Take a shower! (Seriously: shower thoughts are a thing on the internet that show how well it sparks creativity.) Cleaning the house, doing dishes or cooking works great, too. Working with your hands away from the screen is a big help. By doing something that's monotonous or mundane, it allows the creative side of your brain to take a break.

Take a break from the inspiration sites

I know that there are a lot of inspiration websites on the internet and it seems like there's a new one launching every week. There isn't anything inherently wrong with these websites. However, if you're relying on them too much, you might start to feel like all you do is copy the trends you're seeing. It's easy to find inspiration that's very close to what we're working on.

Change up where you're finding your inspiration. I've noted in the past that I like visiting antique stores. Finding old coffee cans, tools, or ephemera made in the last one hundred years or so can be a gold mine. There's a lot of good design that was created before we came along and it can still apply today in new mediums. On top of that, you might set a trend if you can pull it off well enough!

Go people watching

I know its weird, but I kind of enjoy this. It's fun watching how other people interact with their environment. You can see how people use their phones, waste time standing in line or trying to figure out a restaurant menu. People are always engaging with something that's been designed.

Figure out what's working or not working for them. Are they drawn to something in particular? Are they struggling with something because it wasn't designed right? Observation is a great way to spark creativity!