The best way to survive a creative block is to breakthrough. What people in the creative world call a breakthrough is a metaphorical wall. One can only get passed this bearier with ideas. Countless bad ideas. If you’re a creative by career you’ll know that time, inspiration, and expectations aren’t in alignment. You have deadlines. Deadlines aren’t inspiring they’re crushing. Sometimes we meet these with ideas beyond our greatest expectations and inspire ourselves. Other times we find the work to be mediocre at best.
Graphic Designers and the Creative Block
If you’re a graphic designer than you are very familiar with the soul crushing aspects of your career. Perhaps it’s staring at the same color palette day in day out. The weather could be extra dreary but for whatever the reason you’ve found yourself in a funk. Your team expects a turnaround and a quality level out of you. How will you get out of this creative block?
Creat a ton of bad ideas!
Create a ton of bad ideas. Maybe you’ve forgotten basic principals of design. Maybe you’re typography skills are that of a toddlers this Tuesday. Perhaps your color palette is loud. The only way through is more, more, more. Throw them away. Set them aside. Create hundreds of art boards. Keep powering through until some moment of inspiration hits. AHA! I like this font pairing. Take that. Move forward. AHA! I like this color palette. Mentally break through that wall!
Let go of the things you love the most
Don’t get stuck. Are you working around an element that’s not working? Often times when I find I’m in a creative block it’s because I need to let go of one thing. It’s usually the thing I love the MOST about a design. It’s the headline, it’s to big and I need to fit this content block in. But it’s the most beautiful typography. Get rid of it! You’ll find it was the one thing that was holding you back.
Save Your Ideas
Alright you have to delete it. Take a screenshot, save the file in an ideas folder. One day you’ll hit a creative block again and you’ll have this file to re-use work you’ve created.
When the imposter syndrome hits
This can be deeper than a creative block. This is a career blow. When you are struck with the potentially career ending fatal blow of the imposter syndrome it falls on you alone to pull yourself out of the crypt. When this hit me I could barely design an email signature. It was a crisis of creative identity. I had been designing in one font, one color palette for 4 years. Upon the newly found freedom I lost sight of my own capabilities. This isn’t uncommon. It’s a humbling experience that only replenishes the foundation of your career if you survive it.
How to defeat the imposter syndrome, remember Who You Are
How did I get through it? Look at all of your work over the years. Remember who you are. Remember how good you are. When I looked back I had over 10 years put into this career. I had forgotten how amazing, how talented I am. I am an outstanding designer. In my own humility I forgot to show myself and the world over 10 years of accomplishments! Celebrate your work!
Surround yourself with inspiration
Inspiration is what drives us creatively. In the beginning of my career I thought I had to journey that mountain of greatness alone. Then I realized that we are better because of the designers that came before us. I take moments from each inspiration and I redefine them as my own. Find a headline style you like, a photography filter you love, a button that’s bohemian and combine them into something they never saw coming. Put that up against your inspirations and see that you’ve created something unique to you.
Remember the 80% rule. If it’s not 80% different then it’s not yours.
Remember your worst work is their better than they could ever make
So it’s not going in your portfolio. Did it help their business? Yes. Did you create something they didn’t have before? Yes. Don’t bash your work for the things they cannot appreciate. Often even your peers won’t see the faults you do. Take this moment, grow from it and make it better another day. Try to imagine the first time you created anything. Word? Paint? How horrible was it? That’s what they’d have if they didn’t have you. Now your work is a masterpiece by that comparison. Try to take the win. You survived a deadline to design another day.