How to Boost Your Creativity in 3 (or 7) Days

All creative professionals face creative blocks. Many times these blocks are caused by being overworked and burned out on creativity. Sometimes routine helps, but it can frequently hinder the brain juices. After all, variety is the spice of life.

As a creative professional there are definitely some related fields to your profession. Being a graphic designer with a degree, I could swear that college burned out my creativity. Then I discovered that I enjoyed photography as a hobby. I also like to sit at my drafting table and sketch. Both of these hobbies are related to the field of design, and both help me get creative.

The Solution

Each day you should focus on a different task. For me it’s illustration on the first day, photography on the second day, and design on the third day.

Never let your work spill over into your personal time unless it is absolutely necessary. When 5 p.m. rolls around on a photography day you should get away from the computer and go take some photos. If it’s a design day then I may let my work flow over into my “spice” time, but that’s alright – it suits the day I’m on.

Creative Day 1 – Illustration

Creative Day 1 - Illustration

Being able to draw is beneficial to almost everyone, and almost anyone can draw. Graphic designers are frequently creating logo thumbs, layout sketches, or figuring out how in the hell to fit EVERYTHING on that business card. The designer’s sketchbook comes in handy – and it’s obvious that illustration is related to design.

Try to hone your skills as an illustrator. Make sure to challenge yourself, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Do something different on each illustration day. Browse deviatart.com if you’re lacking inspiration. I highly recommend visiting drawspace.com for some interesting and challenging exercises.

Recommended illustration material:
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain →
Riven Phoenix – Drawing The Human Figure From Your Mind →

Creative Day 2 – Photography

Creative Day 2 - Photography
(Image Source: dsevilla)

It’s always nice to have photography on-hand for that random brochure or web design project, so why don’t designers take more photos themselves? I know that I get tired of flipping through stock photography, and I have to resort to telling my clients that it’s time to move to a paid stock site when the free sites run out of good photos.

Photography is also a fantastic hobby that lets you keep memories of your daily life. Building your own library of various images also gives you a better chance of having the perfect photo for a design project in the future. It’s a win-win situation. Just make sure to challenge yourself with your photos the same way you would with illustration. For some inspirational ideas here, I would recommend checking out the digitalphotographyschool.com forums.

Other sources:
Find local photography groups or try to contact your favorite photographer – you’d be surprised at how many photographers love to talk about their ideas and profession.

Creative Day 3 – Design

Creative Day 3 - Design
(Image Source: guidosportaal)

On Design days I enjoy trying out new tutorials. It’s always good to build on existing knowledge, as it nurtures creativity. Sometimes I’ll create something for a friend if I’m not feeling up to doing a full tutorial. I don’t think of doing free work for friends as spec work, just a nice surprise when somebody close to me ends up getting a new set of business cards.

Another great side-effect of doing design in my spare time is a better portfolio. Doing some brochure designs for a fake company, a logo design for a family member, or a business card for my neighbor – it all ends up being potential portfolio material.

Just like illustration days and photo days, it’s important to challenge yourself on design days. Do something that you wouldn’t normally do. If you’re stuck doing logos all the time, try to do some web or print designs. Even better – do a set of print and web designs. Try to create a magazine cover and a web site to match the fake “corporate identity”.

For some inspiration on design days, check out the Tuts+ Network.

Salt and Pepper – Add to Taste

Once a week, I like to meditate on the events of my Creative Days and write. Finding some great nature sounds and closing my eyes really gets thoughts flowing. Sometimes I come up with new ideas for the coming week – then I write them down. Other times I reflect on what I’ve done for the past week and decide which projects are showing promise.

This is entirely optional. I know some artistic people don’t enjoy writing, and some people can’t sit still for 5 minutes. Still, I would highly recommend a relaxing meditation day once a week to avoid being burned out on your projects.

You can find meditation music numerous places online, or you can purchase a Naturespace app for your iDevice. Another fantastic option is the Centerpointe meditation set – though a bit more expensive.

On a Side Note…

I recently began a 365 project that follows these specific guidelines. I would highly recommend that you do the same. After all, with the New Year just past, it wouldn’t be a horrible time to make a new resolution – as a matter of fact, it would be a perfect time.

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You can join Joshua on his blog to follow along with his Creative 365 or learn some more details about the project in general. If you want to read some more interesting articles by him or his fiance, Allysia, check out NascentStudio.com.

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