When it comes to creating awesome designs, every graphic designer has to start somewhere. One moment your ideas overflow, then suddenly inspiration runs dry. The creativity that pushed you to pursue graphic design gradually weighs heavily on your shoulders.
What many of us do not know is that graphic design is a process that takes time. Having an eye for design does not mean it’s always easy to create something unique and visually appealing. Designers need to explore as many models as they can throughout their career to widen their horizons and avoid slumps.
The Truth About Graphic Design Slumps
Design slumps are normal. They’re no different from writer’s block, and everyone in any field experiences some form of a drop in motivation or creativity. For as long as you are a graphic designer, you will have your fair share of good design days and bad design days.
In a 2016 survey conducted by The Creative Group, 800 professional designers were asked to enumerate 3 main hindrances to their creativity. The results were as follows:
Unreasonable deadlines (31%)
Company prohibits avante-garde or risky designs (30%)
Projects are repetitive or lack diversity (14%)
The good news is that creativity slumps don’t last long. Once you overcome it, generating new ideas will be less troublesome for you.
Different designers adopt different strategies for addressing design slumps. Some designers try to focus on comfort. By working in a conducive environment, they’re able to generate better designs.
Other designers, especially those working in a team with deadlines to be beat or projects to deliver, strive to meet their co-workers halfway. They engage in extracurricular activities that inspire them to come up with new designs.
Ways to Stay Inspired
Instead of waiting for inspiration to strike you – to the disadvantage of your pending projects – be proactive in overcoming your slump instead. Go where you can find inspiration. At the same time, a productive graphic designer while ensuring your team meets its goal.
Here are ways you can stay inspired despite the occasional threat of design slumps:
1. Map Out Your Thoughts
A design impasse may also mean there are too many thoughts in your head that you have difficulty organising. You cannot get a design out there because your mind is everywhere.
A recommended solution would be to use mind maps. Simply put, a mind map is like a visual representation of your thoughts. You place your ideas in the open and see what shape they take on. From there, you try to identify connections and patterns which hopefully will inspire you to create a new design.
And the good thing about mind maps is that they’re useful in any design stage. The right use of this strategy gets your creative juices flowing. You have the option to create your own mind map or download an app online.
2. Create a Design System
Structure your design process. As opposed to simply using mind maps, building a design system is a step-by-step process of generating ideas.
There is no one-size-fits-all method for setting up a design system. What you can do is to include steps that are easy and less time-consuming – steps you are comfortable with. For instance, you create some sort of idea jar containing a cut-out collection of patterns and colour combinations. Before starting any design project, you extract patterns or colour swatches from this jar to aid you in the design process.
One effective system recommended by professional designers is the Six Thinking Hats. This method makes use of six different colours. Each colour is assigned with a corresponding meaning. For instance, factual information could be associated with white while emotions could be symbolised by the colour red.
The colour approach has helped several designers overcome design slumps.
3. Set up a Conducive Work Space
The environment you’re in can affect the kind of design you come up with. Your workspace should not distract you or hinder your creativity. Many companies understand what designers need, so they usually have enough freedom to design their cubicles or work desks any way they want to.
Here are a few ideas for creating a conducive work environment:
Place colourful and unique items on your cubicle or desk.
Change the lighting.
Install personal artworks and other design pieces
Decorating your work environment, according to behavioural scientists, helps produce new ideas by 15 percent.
4. Participate in Graphic Design Expos or Conferences
Using the same approach over and over again can take a toll on your ability. You need to go over and beyond the designs you’re used to. This is to ensure your designs are varied and not just a repitition of previous designs.
To get more ideas and expand your knowledge in designs, it would be good to connect with the rest of the design community. This will expose you to the latest design trends and see how other graphic designers master their trade.
You can also join design conferences, seminars and expos. Through such events, you can acquire information about techniques, strategies and ideas that may help you boost your design skills.
5. Find a Hobby or Engage in Other Activities
The Creative Group asked 800 design professionals how they overcome creative blocks and 80% of them replied that they engage in extracurricular activities. They also pursue new hobbies that may or may not be related to their job. In another study, extracurricular activities proved to be effective in increasing workplace productivity.
Indeed, the lack of insiration sources can sap the creativity of graphic designers. However, drawing inspiration from experiences not related to your work can break the cycle of monotyny.
Hobbies and external interests expose new ways of doing things. Such experiences inject a fresh perspective to your methods. They also raise your ability to think outside the box, which is necessary for any design work.
Feeding Your Creativity
All designers are prone to creativity slumps. That is why learning how to overcome them is important.
Repetitive skills, perspectives or methods can drain your creativity. And once you feel like you’re not moving forward, design quality suffers as a result.
Word to the wise: find inspiration before slumps get the better of you. Waiting for inspiration is counterproductive particularly if you work with a team.
Explore new ways of thinking, build a conducive work environment and create a system that increases your capacity for design. Moreover, have the initiative to develop new skills and keep abreast with the latest design trends.
You can feed your creativity at your own time and pace. What’s important is that, in the convoluted field of web and graphic design, you’re moving forward.
Lancey Clemons is a digital marketer and blogger. He works for a reputable SEO company Australia, specialising in web design, SEO geotargeting and content marketing.