How I deal with designer’s block


For a long time I’ve been blaming myself for having frequent designer’s blocks. And I still do, sometimes. For not having brilliant ideas, for having to look for inspiration elsewhere than my own brain and knowledge, for wasting a lot of time doing nothing creative (oh believe me, I can raise procrastination to a form of art).

But then, over the time, I realized a few things.

  • Every artist has a crisis now and then
  • I don’t have to be such a perfectionist, not all art and design has to be brilliant, it’s usually enough if it’s just good.
  • It’s not wrong to look for inspiration elsewhere, everyone does it, and one brain can’t possibly hold every solution to every problem
  • I don’t have to be 100% creative all the time

And I’ve started to look for inspiration everywhere.

What I do to find inspiration:

I draw realistically.

No, really. I don’t post anywhere most of this stuff, even if it’s good enough for me to be happy with the result.

Drawing from nature stimulates the brain in a different way than anything else, because you don’t actually invent the composition, you have to make it from what you see, or find a good motif somewhere in the surroundings. You have the reality and you have to shape it somehow.

It usually stimulates my imagination, and more drawings are made, each one less realistic, and after a while I get a good looking abstract composition and I don’t even know when it happened.

I listen to the music

I know it’s sort of cliche, but since I experience synesthesia, I see images when I listen.

I go online

When I’m making a design, a website or a logo, or whatever, I usually look for similar things online, and then carefully try not to copy any ideas, although when some symbols are associated with one idea, you can’t use them for another idea, or people will be confused. So sometimes you just have to copy an idea for the thing to be 100% understandable.

I do something unrelated

I meet people and party. I play video games. I watch films. I make simple jewelry. I watch paintings and photos on dA. I chat with people online. I read blogs. I write blogs. I read books. I go to the ZOO. I let my brain rest.

I can spend days doing nothing, just to get a boost of inspiration afterwards (and then I work days and nights).

I go for a walk

It helps me that I look at the world in photographic terms. I can see composition everywhere, not objects. It only requires switching the brain to the “art mode” (which you gain by practice) and some concentration. Sometimes it even switches by itself.

The only thing that doesn’t really help is that I really don’t like going out alone (even for a walk). I get bored too easily. But a walk with a friend, or a loved one, can be really inspiring, and they can sometimes notice things in the surroundings that I don’t, and motivate me to go further, or somewhere I haven’t been before.

and if everything else fails…

I just wait until it goes away

It eventually does. Every time.

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