Creative Strategy

Getting Your Creative On: how to get your creative power back

Creative-Tips-postAs a graphic designer it is my job to focus on my clients and find the best way to solve their design needs. Listening to the client, research and inspiration from other designers, things can get pretty muttled . There is so much information out there with just a click of the button…..and then there are the other links that lead to even more links.  It all becomes a distraction and as the hours pass I am still sitting there with a blank canvas and a brain freeze. This can happen to the best of thinkers and innovators in any profession and endeavor. Sometimes great ideas don’t come as easy as we would like them to. As long as we are online, on earth and crusin’ through the info-overload driven society, there will always be a need to foster our creativity. Okay, when you practice what you are good at for a while, you definitely have a knack for it and somehow pull the magic from your brain to make it work. But for me it seems like the best ideas that truly click are the ones that come after I have taken time for an info dump and one of these creativity boosters. So lets get to it!

Take-a-StrollGet Out And Take A Stroll..

I have included this as the first tip because for me it is the easiest and enjoyable do to. Who doesn’t enjoy nature?

 “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks”  ~ John Muir ~

Not only does it clear the mind there is a ton of inspiration in nature! Look close and you will find that is where we get our color pallets from and natural direction of lighting. It is in our moments of awe that we grow. It is as easy a walking out your back door.

Surround Yourself With Other Creative Minds…

Whatever type of industry you are in, surround yourself with others in the field. Everyone has a different background and can bring fresh perspective to your visions. There is talent all around us! I have discovered that ‘artist types’ tend to be each others best cheerleaders.

But don’t just stop there! Surround yourself with people who will challenge your beliefs and cause you to think outside the box! Perhaps then we can look back and figure out EXACTLY…what to do with the box! Carry on…..

Take-your-Camera-OutTake Your Camera Out…

Take your camera out and take detailed photos of ordinary objects! Honing in on the details might just be the perfect answer for the bigger picture. It also trains your brain to look at things in a different way.

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see”  ~Henry David Thoreau~

One of the things I learned in photojournalism is to take photographs of things from a perspective that you usually don’t look at it from. For instance a “snails eye view” from laying on the ground and shooting up at an object will give you a very different perspective than looking at it at the same eye level as everyone else sees it. You never know…you might take a photo that you would be proud to hang on your wall! Hey, that would be an extra!

Eating Healthy Trough out The Day…

Did you know that 20-30 percent of daily caloric intake is used to regulate you brain’s functions? Hey, thinking can be hard work! Especially if you are creating awesome strategy for your client’s branding needs!

” One can not think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well”  ~Virginia Woolf~

Nibbling on a small stream of snacks through out the day will enhance your brain power which includes creativity. Small snacks such as trail mix, peanut butter & toast,veggies and hummus, berries and wait for it….CHOCOLATE will give you the fuel that your brain needs to have to keep up the functions  during the day. Check out the other snacks and benefits HERE.

Keep A Journal On Hand…A-Journal

The average person has 60,000 thoughts a day! Wowzers! Some of them are constant playing subconscious tapes from long ago mixed in with the here and now. No wonder we have strange dreams!
Professionals today are bombarded with information that is at best is irrelevant to what we want to know and learn.
Keeping a notebook or journal handy is a great place to write down ideas that you come up with when you are out and about.
Out running errands is when I have thought up a solutions to design projects that I have been working on.

You never know when a passing thought will turn into your next great idea!

Be Willing To Take Risks…

We all know that success never just falls into your lap…you have to pursue it. Just as you can’t achieve your dreams by playing it safe, you can’t cultivate creativity by playing it safe. It helps to push the bounds past the status-quo,
Or perhaps ignoring the status quo all together.

When you put yourself out on a limb, with a no-excuse approach, your natural problem solving skills kick in and you are open to new ideas and are willing to try something new.

Tracking-timeTrack Your Time…

Giving yourself deadlines and keeping track of how long you work on a project helps you stay accountable to yourself and also helps you to manage your time more effectively. It’s one thing to dedicate some time to brainstorming, it’s quite another to realize two hours later that you’ve only generated 2 semi-formed ideas in that time.

” Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you will start thinking waaaay outside the box”  ~ Adam Savage ~

Before starting a creative session, I set clear goals for myself: “I want to have 5 solid ideas to pitch to a client by 2:30” or “In the next 30 minutes, I want to come up with 8 creative ways to raise brand awareness for this client”.
I have found that sometimes I need breaks from thinking and other times I need the pressure of time constraints.

Take A Nap…

Not everyone is a fan of naps…hey just ask a two year old! When we are young we want to grow out of taking a nap; then when we get older most of of love to!

Studies show that taking a nap improves cognitive function, creative thinking and memory performance. We must first, however, learn how to get the most out of our naps. There are a lot of benefits and ways to get just the sleep you need and you can read up on them HERE . Turn the lights down, grab a warm blanket and rejuvenate because the “gray” matters! Grin.

Find Some Play Time…Playtime

Being successful at what you do doesn’t depend on the amount of time that you work; it depends on the quality of your work. Many “Dot Com” companies have long recognized the link between creativity, productivity and a fun work environment. Take a look inside of Google’s office or rather the “Un-office” and you will see what I mean.

” The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves”  ~ Carl Jung ~

While most of us might not have the room or budget as Google does, you can still keep things in your work area that are fun and personal. Something as simple as keeping a can of play-dough to sculpt while you are taking a break does a lot more than take your mind off the problem. i and silence the analytic barrier that processes your thoughts and ideas. This can often help you see problems in a new light and generate fresh, creative solutions. Do you play?

Throw Out The Rule Book…

“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong,
then to always be right by having no ideas at all” ~ Edward de Bono ~

Next time you get your colleagues together for a brainstorming session write down EVERYTHING you can think of for an idea. Nothing is too out there and no idea is too small. Make it so that it fits all personality types and use post-it  notes for the ones that are not as willing to speak up. You never know what word or phrase is going to spark the next big idea.

These ten tips are just a handful of ways to spark you creativity. Follow me on Face Book, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn to see more creative tips and other helpful information on design and branding!

Feel free to browse my Graphic Design, Digital Manipulation , Photography Portfolios and Featured Clients on my home page. Give me a shout if you would like to chat about design and strategy!

Nakano Designs
Valerie Stevenson-Alkire
phone: 816-355-0101


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