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klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 10:04 AM
So, I was just wondering what you all suggest here. I have always been a creative person growing up, but it seems lately (within the last year or two) that my creative side has been weakening. The more I go to my classes and work on these projects that have to meet certain criteria, the hard it is becoming. I need a way to stimulate my thinking and help me see things in different ways I guess.

Does anyone know of any good books or techniques for such a thing? Perhaps it's just that I simply need to read more. I don't even remember the last time I sat down and read a novel. The only things I tend to read are the assigned portions out of my textbooks for school. Anyway, I was just curious if anyone had any ideas. Thanks everyone!



design-is
Mar 4, 2008, 10:07 AM
Among other ideas...

You could try going to a park and laying in the sun to clear your head... peace quiet and a refreshing surrounding can do wonders.

Play with your childhood toys, or go to a toy shop. Imagination was never so good as when you are a kid growing up.

IgnatiusTheKing
Mar 4, 2008, 10:14 AM
So, I was just wondering what you all suggest here. I have always been a creative person growing up, but it seems lately (within the last year or two) that my creative side has been weakening. The more I go to my classes and work on these projects that have to meet certain criteria, the hard it is becoming. I need a way to stimulate my thinking and help me see things in different ways I guess.

Does anyone know of any good books or techniques for such a thing? Perhaps it's just that I simply need to read more. I don't even remember the last time I sat down and read a novel. The only things I tend to read are the assigned portions out of my textbooks for school. Anyway, I was just curious if anyone had any ideas. Thanks everyone!

You could try to do your projects in a creative way that completely exceeds the scope of the assignment. You might get a bad grade (probably not) but it might jump start your creativity again.

klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 10:24 AM
Among other ideas...

You could try going to a park and laying in the sun to clear your head... peace quiet and a refreshing surrounding can do wonders.

Yeah, I'm not about to go lay in the sun to clear my head any time soon. It's about 15°F in the morning, hits about 30°F as a high during the day. The ground is covered in a foot of snow too. It may clear my head in one sense, but plug it up in another. ;) Don't get me wrong though, I'd love to do this right now. Just not plausible at the time.

design-is
Mar 4, 2008, 10:29 AM
Yeah, I'm not about to go lay in the sun to clear my head any time soon. It's about 15°F in the morning, hits about 30°F as a high during the day. The ground is covered in a foot of snow too. It may clear my head in one sense, but plug it up in another. ;) Don't get me wrong though, I'd love to do this right now. Just not plausible at the time.

lol... didn't notice where you were from ;)

Go make snow angels? hehe

SwiftLives
Mar 4, 2008, 10:30 AM
The fact that it's hard at the moment is not necessarily a bad sign. When dealing with creativity, you should always try to reach just beyond what you think you're capable of.

But I do hear you on needing inspiration.

Museums and Art Galleries are good places to go. I also recommend art and design magazines. You may not be a designer, but some of the approaches to the problems are usually quite innovative. Specifically, I recommend HOW Magazine, since it's devoted a little more to the process of designing.

klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 10:41 AM
lol... didn't notice where you were from ;)

Go make snow angels? hehe

Now there is an idea… :D Winter will be over soon. We did hit 54°F on Saturday, and 30 minutes later it was snowing on us again. That's how the weather goes around here though.

The fact that it's hard at the moment is not necessarily a bad sign. When dealing with creativity, you should always try to reach just beyond what you think you're capable of.

But I do hear you on needing inspiration.

Museums and Art Galleries are good places to go. I also recommend art and design magazines. You may not be a designer, but some of the approaches to the problems are usually quite innovative. Specifically, I recommend HOW Magazine, since it's devoted a little more to the process of designing.

I just got a subscription to Communication Arts magazine. I haven't read much of it yet though. I'm just wondering at what point does one cross the line of inspiration and head into the land of ripping off someone else?

I think part of my problem is I'm not getting the mental stimulation I need at work either. I "design" custom jewelry, but I can count on one hand the amount of times I've actually got to do actual design. Usually it's along the lines of "the customer likes this part of ring A, this part from ring B, and the profile from ring C." My job is to then just essentially take those pieces and combine them into one ring. Not a lot of creativity involved in many of those pieces. Then I get the ones where they like everything about the ring, but they want a different metal type than the ring we have in stock, or it's for a smaller diamond, etc. Hmm... I want a real job doing graphic design, not this jewelry stuff anymore. Not enough range in what I can do. It's always the same thing.

design-is
Mar 4, 2008, 10:50 AM
Hmm... I want a real job doing graphic design, not this jewelry stuff anymore. Not enough range in what I can do. It's always the same thing.

I am in a similar situation... basically in an artworking position because the job paid more than design jobs offered at the time. Its very formulaic and the company has been around a while so there are templates to follow and I don't get as much input into things as I want.

I find pursuing freelance projects out of hours helps keep the brain alive. If none are available in your area, try finding websites that could do with an overhaul and e-mail them... always worth a shot. Helps your bank balance too.

Or set yourself personal projects. One I am working on in my rare spare time is designing a book - my dissertation from university. The form it had to be handed in in was horrible, and I always wanted to make it worthy of a designer... so I thought why not get stuck in?

I'm just wondering at what point does one cross the line of inspiration and head into the land of ripping off someone else?

Just remember that truely original ideas don't generally happen. Draw inspiration from anything/everything and put elements that already exist in others work together in new, more creative ways, and you will be ahead of the game.

In my signature is my favourite quote from the iconic designer Bob Gill. I think it applied well here lol

klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 11:18 AM
Ok, so I've read on here a few times to push beyond what I think I am capable of. I'm not quite sure how to do that. Maybe that is my problem. I don't know.

I decided the other day that I was going to start working on projects of my own in my small, limited spare time. I want to sit down and write about myself, what I like, dislike, etc. Basically my self image, if that makes sense. Then I am going to take my picture and then make an abstract collage using the text that I write to make like a typography self portrait. Does that make sense? I think it'll be fun and a bit of a challenge, and hopefully it'll look really cool. Anyway, that's my idea. I think I might also start taking a minutes everyday to just sit and write the things that are on my mind. Just clear my head mentally and dump it all on paper. I don't know. Now I'm just rambling.

Any other ideas?

shecky
Mar 4, 2008, 11:18 AM
i keep my creativity going in a lot of ways.

first, i choose to run my own studio. after working for other people and a few in-house jobs for a number of years, i have discovered i prefer the varying clients and relative creative control i have by running my own shop. my partner and i right now have 4 large active clients that we juggle around every week to get all the work done and another 5 or 6 that are ongoing and in the works (i am worried a ton of work will hit at one time, in which case i may have to hire another designer to cover it all). now the point is by having varying clients i can get some good "bread and butter" work - high paying, reasonably straightforward work which allows me to take on other, lower paying but much more creative jobs. and then sometimes you get high-paying, highly creative work which is the best of both worlds. the idea is to have a mix of work so you can use varying parts of your brain in any given week. if you have a regular jobby job then some freelance is a good way to have this situation without giving up the security of a regular paycheck. having said all that running your own show is a lot of stress, a lot of time spent NOT being a designer but being an accountant, a billing machine, a fedex deliveryman, etc... but at the end of the day its worth it.

the other thing i do is teach, which probably gives me more intellectual stimulus than all my clients put together. the catch with teaching is it pays poorly (relative to client work) but having the dialogs with students keep smy mind sharp and open to new things.

you also need to have a professional dialog, and by that i mean read the trade magazines (tho i think HOW is possibly the worst magazine on earth for inspiration), go on to design observer, speak up, typophile, etc. go to design lectures at any schools near you. get into the conversation. you need to be talking, if not literally than at least visually, with other designers/design minded people. the worst designers are those who live and work in a vacuum.

you also need to have a contextual dialog. go to art museums. read the newspaper. go to a concert. you need to understand and embrace the context that your work lives in. you will gain inspiration by being a part of the context your work should be talking to.

you can also use iterative processes to help spark something. carry a small camera with you at all times and make yourself take 50 pictures a day. make yourself do one one-minute drawing a day during lunch. force yourself to spend 10 minutes every day for a month making something from a piece of paper, a gluestick and 5 paperclips. take a newspaper article and make 100 xerox copies of it and see how creative you can be within the medium of a copy machine. sounds silly, but this kind of forced process can actually make creativity happen because you are not giving it any other choice.

klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 11:42 AM
i keep my creativity going in a lot of ways.

first, i choose to run my own studio. after working for other people and a few in-house jobs for a number of years, i have discovered i prefer the varying clients and relative creative control i have by running my own shop. my partner and i right now have 4 large active clients that we juggle around every week to get all the work done and another 5 or 6 that are ongoing and in the works (i am worried a ton of work will hit at one time, in which case i may have to hire another designer to cover it all). now the point is by having varying clients i can get some good "bread and butter" work - high paying, reasonably straightforward work which allows me to take on other, lower paying but much more creative jobs. and then sometimes you get high-paying, highly creative work which is the best of both worlds. the idea is to have a mix of work so you can use varying parts of your brain in any given week. if you have a regular jobby job then some freelance is a good way to have this situation without giving up the security of a regular paycheck. having said all that running your own show is a lot of stress, a lot of time spent NOT being a designer but being an accountant, a billing machine, a fedex deliveryman, etc... but at the end of the day its worth it.

the other thing i do is teach, which probably gives me more intellectual stimulus than all my clients put together. the catch with teaching is it pays poorly (relative to client work) but having the dialogs with students keep smy mind sharp and open to new things.

you also need to have a professional dialog, and by that i mean read the trade magazines (tho i think HOW is possibly the worst magazine on earth for inspiration), go on to design observer, speak up, typophile, etc. go to design lectures at any schools near you. get into the conversation. you need to be talking, if not literally than at least visually, with other designers/design minded people. the worst designers are those who live and work in a vacuum.

you also need to have a contextual dialog. go to art museums. read the newspaper. go to a concert. you need to understand and embrace the context that your work lives in. you will gain inspiration by being a part of the context your work should be talking to.

you can also use iterative processes to help spark something. carry a small camera with you at all times and make yourself take 50 pictures a day. make yourself do one one-minute drawing a day during lunch. force yourself to spend 10 minutes every day for a month making something from a piece of paper, a gluestick and 5 paperclips. take a newspaper article and make 100 xerox copies of it and see how creative you can be within the medium of a copy machine. sounds silly, but this kind of forced process can actually make creativity happen because you are not giving it any other choice.

I was hoping you'd chime in. I really enjoy your comments in your posts. A lot of what you have to say is what my professor has told us. He mentioned that we need to be reading the newspaper, magazines, news websites, etc. to keep up on current events. He told us to read books, blogs, everything to stimulate the mind I guess. He told us to travel. It opens up your mind to different things. You aren't seeing the same old thing everyday.

I just wish I had more spare time between school, work, homework, and maintaining some sort of social life. It's hard to juggle it all sometimes. Spring break is next week, but I can't get away from work so I'm stuck here still. I just feel confined by so many things and I think it's getting to me. Maybe I should work on my projects in the library at school or somewhere new. In fact, I could go set up shop in the section of the library where all the design books are. ;)

Thanks for the tips. I'll have to start doing some of these things. Any other ideas to add to the collection?

kitki83
Mar 4, 2008, 04:40 PM
I was in the same shoes as you last year. My best advice is maybe get into the habit of meditation, learn how to clear the clutter in your head and focus on complete relaxation. Also go to your local bookstore and find any cheap art book and begin reading it. Don't have to buy latest book or magazine get some old editions. Good luck

i3iz
Mar 4, 2008, 04:55 PM
So, I was just wondering what you all suggest here. I have always been a creative person growing up, but it seems lately (within the last year or two) that my creative side has been weakening. The more I go to my classes and work on these projects that have to meet certain criteria, the hard it is becoming. I need a way to stimulate my thinking and help me see things in different ways I guess.

Does anyone know of any good books or techniques for such a thing? Perhaps it's just that I simply need to read more. I don't even remember the last time I sat down and read a novel. The only things I tend to read are the assigned portions out of my textbooks for school. Anyway, I was just curious if anyone had any ideas. Thanks everyone!

Sounds like you need to ignite your passion & interest, then creativity will come as a side effect. The cool thing about being an artist is that imagery can sometimes ignite this passion. Whether it is viewing a piece of art, reading a book, listening to music, etc... you need to feed your creative side like you would your stomach. With food.

klymr
Mar 4, 2008, 09:51 PM
I just ran across this article from that one magazine. ;)

I think only a couple of these are relevant to me at the time.

10 Ways to Get More Creative at Work
January 23, 2008
by Sharon Fisher

Think back to the last time you had an "aha" moment. Were you involved in a brainstorming session, or were you doing something entirely different—maybe driving or playing softball? Generating ideas and setting the stage for an innovative environment require strategies that are part art and part science. The art is about mindset—believing that you and your creative team have the talent to come up with valuable ideas and giving your brains time to think and discover. The science provides you with tools and techniques you can use to stimulate ideas. Here are 10 ways to incorporate the art and science of creativity into your environment:

1. Innovation isn't just for creative types. Involve everyone—even outsiders. We frequently ask the UPS man to stop in and share a quick idea. Invite customers, too.

2. John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, once gave this advice: "If you spot any colleagues engaging in unfamiliar activity such as wondering out loud or gazing thoughtfully into space, poke them with a sharp stick and accuse them of wasting time." Enough said.

3. Hang a giant piece of paper on your office door; at the top, write a question or issue that you need help with. Invite everyone to come by at their leisure to share thoughts and ideas.

4. Show a stand-up comedy video before every creative session. Laughter stimulates great thinking.

5. Keep magazines unrelated to your business in the office. Encourage your team to cut out pictures that relate to a project you're working on and make a collage.

6. "The amount a person uses his imagination is inversely proportional to the amount of punishment he will receive for using it." This anonymous quote says it all. Allow your team to get comfortable taking risks and support them for doing so. From small things like sharing personal anecdotes and wearing goofy hats, to physical challenges like trust falls and walking high ropes, seek activities that get people out of their comfort zones.

7. Hang an "If Only" board. Let people jot ideas, then use them to spark your imagination during the next creative session.

8. Have everyone choose a different hat, then participate in the creative session as if they were that person.

9. Trade environments. Going somewhere else to generate ideas—the park, a toy store or even someone else's conference room—will stimulate fresh thinking.

10. Encourage people to do something with their hands during the creative process. While playing with toys and doodling have been criticized as being "too simplistic," there's scientific evidence that 97% of the nerves in our hands are connected directly to our brains. Busy hands stimulate brain cells.

HOW June 2003

EDIT: In fact, I just found a whole list of things similar to the above posted on their website, found here: http://www.howdesign.com/exercises/

SwiftLives
Mar 4, 2008, 10:06 PM
HOW Magazine really talks about the design process - primarily the conceptual phases. I can't recommend it enough.

Com Arts and Print and I.D. are great compilations of great design work (albeit a few months outdated).

I rarely worry about ripping someone else's design off. I pretty much always use an existing design or concept as a springboard to something different.

Keeping an idea book handy is also a very good thing to do. And a black pen. (No self-respecting designer would ever use a blue pen. And a pencil just doesn't convey confidence...)

Heck - it also never hurts to just play around. Make a logo out of your name. Lay out your resumé. It's always good to have that handy anyway.

tsd
Mar 5, 2008, 10:46 PM
This is all great stuff.

My suggestion: leave town. As soon as you can do it without being irresponsible, get at least an hour's drive away from your city limits and spend at least 3 nights away. Oh, and when you're away, don't let yourself DO anything! Just read, relax, take walks, listen to music. Don't try to make yourself be creative during the vacation. Just make sure you make it happen!