Design insights & tutorials.

10 Tips to avoid designer’s block.

title image for avoiding designers block Ever feel like some days you can crank out amazing looking designs with little effort? Then on other days it feels like nothing is working, you’ve lost all your talent and you’ll never make another good design for the rest of your miserable life? Don’t panic – this is natural. It’s like writer’s block, except for designers. It happens to all of us.

So, the real question is; how do I avoid designer’s block? Or better yet; how can I get into the “zone.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term “the zone,” it’s the expression athletes use to describe how they feel when they’re performing at their very best. They’re not THINKING about how to perform – they’re just DOING IT.

So, how do you get there? How do you stay there? And once again – how do you avoid designer’s block? It’s not possible to dial in design perfection each time you sit down at your desk, but there are a few things you can do to help. Here are 10 items to help you find the “zone” and avoid designer’s block.

1. Get “loose.”

In my experience, there is a danger in sitting down and trying to get right into a design (or drawing.) If the very first time your pencil hits paper you need to be drawing exactly what you’re intending to be your final piece of art – you’ll have a tendency to “tighten up.” You can literally feel your muscles tighten as you start to put down a hard crisp pencil line. As a designer if you don’t start out by getting loose, your brain tightens up on exactly what you think the final design should look like.

But drawing and designing is not executed in a perfectly straight line. It’s not a math equation. It’s a process. And the first part of the process needs to be getting loose; opening your mind to the possibilities or loosening up the muscles in your drawing arm. If it’s drawing that I’m about to do I like to start with some very loose sketching. It doesn’t have to be a sketch of anything in particular. I’ll just draw big circles, cylinders, goofy faces, body parts, random patterns, whatever. The important thing is that you do it fast and loose. The goal is just to relax. Pretend you’re a kid picking up a crayon for the very first time.

As for loosening up before a design project, I like to surf the web. There is nothing like the inspiration that seeing other artist’s work has for broadening my mental picture. If I already have a solid idea of how the design is going to be, I will force myself to think of another one. Pretend for a moment that you’ve done the design exactly how you envision it and the client completely rejected it. What’s next? How else can it be designed? Once again – we’re talking about getting loose, being fluid, opening up your brain to more possibilities.

2. Find inspiration.

Inspiration is important. Having excitement for the work you’re about to do is critical. Personally I do three things to get inspired. First, I surf the net and look at other designers/illustrators work. When I see a cool drawing I feel a rush of energy. I’m jealous of what they’ve done and I want to try and make something just as cool. Second, I put on some good tunes. Music is great for me. Finally, I make up a story about my drawing or design in my brain. It’s good to have an internal dialog that goes beyond “I need to design a chart for a grocery store.” How about: “I’m designing a chart that’s going to be used in the new Tron movie.” In truth my design is just for a local grocery store – but in my mind I’m pretending it’s for a movie. I can hear the theme music as the lead character of the movie steps up to a translucent floating display. It’s a tense moment as he uses a touch-screen interface to figure out which pizza has the most calories. In Tron 2 calories equals energy, which is GOOD in the digital world. He’s going to need his energy to battle it out in a game of Deadly Disk. Ok, this is a ridiculous story, but you get my point. Find a way to get excited, get jacked!

designers block Getting your head out of the game

3. Get your head out of the “game.”

Ever notice that you’re sometimes able to do amazing design work when you’re under a crushing deadline? You sit down and start cranking through a design. You’re working super fast. You’re not thinking. You’re just doing. You slap it together – if it doesn’t look good, you just move it around rapidly until it does. I call this speed designing. You’re not giving yourself ANY time to prejudge your ideas. You’re just executing them, evaluating them in a split-second and then making changes.

What you’ve done in this scenario is taken your brain out of the equation. You don’t give yourself enough time to second guess anything.
They say the fastest path to success is through failure. So, if you fail fast, you’ll succeed fast. If I catch myself over thinking a project I can play this little game with myself: “I only have 30 minutes to complete this entire design… ready, set, GO!”

4. Give yourself time.

Sometimes our clients do not give us much time to complete a design. It is particularly hard to design something when you feel like there isn’t enough time. It’s like pressure is mounting on you. Somewhere inside you know that you better get it right the first time or else you’ll miss your timetable. This causes you to tighten up.

To fight this feeling of time pressure I have several options. I can talk to the customer about his timetable/budget. If I can convince him/her to give me more time/money – that’s the best solution. I can also allow myself to go over budget and “eat” the time I’m over. I can also try to think of some design shortcuts to save me some time. Whatever I decide to do, I need to get the time pressure off my mind.

At Go Media we have a “Portfolio Project Policy” which basically says: “If you think your design is going to be portfolio worthy, you can go over budget on your time.” It’s important that we give ourselves the time to do good work – even if the financial bottom line takes a hit. After all, we got into this business for the art, not the money. If we were just after money we would be crab fishermen in the Bering Sea.

5. Have fun with a new technique or toy.

If I’m not feeling in a very designy mood, not inspired and generally not creative, I’ve found that a new toy can help to lift my spirits. By new “toy” what I mean is some design tool. Maybe I buy a new piece of software, or a Wacom tablet or maybe a new brush. Or maybe a new “toy” is just a piece of knowledge. Maybe I’ll search the web for a new drawing tutorial. If I can learn a new technique, I’m immediately inspired to try it out.

6. Lower your expectations.

As designers and illustrators we need to remind ourselves that we’re not going to paint the Mona Lisa each time we touch paint to canvas, or pencil to paper, or pixel to computer. We’re going to fail – a LOT. I like to think of a professional baseball player’s batting average and my ability to make a good design as analogous. A very good baseball player only gets a hit 30% of the time he steps up to the plate. I think this is a good average for a designer too. If I sit down to draw 10 times and 3 come out good – then I’m doing a good job. If you put too much pressure on yourself to hit a home run each time you draw/design it will make it even harder. So, relax, expect to fail. It’s ok. I still love you.

7. Be aware of your difficulty level.

Not all design projects are the same. Are you designing something that is in your comfort zone? Or are you being asked to design something you’ve never done before? This is all part of managing your expectations. If you have a good perspective on your ability as it relates to the project at hand, you’ll keep a positive attitude about your results. And a positive attitude means better design.

designers block Getting your head out of the game

8. Eat a proper diet.

Huh? Diet? Why the heck would what I eat affect my ability to design? Well – food affects your mood and energy level. And your mood certainly affects your design. I’ve noticed that when I’m in a bad mood I design poorly. Or more to the point is that when I’m in a bad mood I don’t even design. I just sit there staring at the blank screen doing nothing. As each design idea pops into my brain a little negative voice in my head says: “No. That’s a crappy idea. That won’t work. Think of something else you loser.” And so I sit. Idea after idea is gunned down in my brain because I’m in a bad mood.

“So, where is the connection between food and mood?” you ask. It’s simple – food signals your brain to release insulin. Insulin is a drug that makes you feel full – and happy. Also, food gives you energy. It makes you feel awake and alert. Furthermore, having an appropriate blood-sugar level makes you feel calm.

Now, let’s go back to that scenario where I’m sitting at my desk designing. Except now I’m happy and calm and full of energy. And what happens now when that design idea floats through my brain? Do I gun it down before I even try it out? No. This time a little voice in my brain says: “Sure! That could work. Let’s give it a try!” And if it fails does that voice rip me to shreds and tell me I suck? No, this is the happy, calm, energetic voice. It says: “No problem Bill! Let’s try something else. Even though this design didn’t work – there is one small part of this design that DOES look good! Let’s use that part and explore how we can expand on it!”

Ok, food effects mood, got it, so, what do I eat? Well, this is not rocket science. You’ve heard it a million times: balanced diet with fruits, veggies, protein and complex carbohydrates. In my experience there is one area to really focus on to help your mood: eating more protein and avoiding sugars (simple carbs.) When you eat sugars like candy, pop, white bread and white noodles – you’ll get a huge insulin spike. You’ll feel full of energy and really full for a short burst. Then you have the insulin drop. Suddenly you’ll feel very tired, sad and you’ll have the munchies. Proteins on the other hand burn slower in your body. It spreads out your energy over a longer period of time. Your mood is stabilized. There is no sudden spike and no sudden drop. At the very least – mix in some protein along with your carbs. This will help soften the drop off of energy.

Which brings me to caffeine. I certainly love my cup of coffee in the morning. The energy spike is AWESOME – and I feel GREAT. But I’ve also learned that it’s not exactly ideal for drawing. I have TOO MUCH energy. I can’t sit still. I’m washing my walls and sweeping my floors. Or, I write long blogs about designer’s block.

There is not one rule for everyone. Some people may design better on a huge dose of caffeine and a plate of pasta. I don’t know your personal brain and body chemistry. My point is that food affects your mood. And your mood affects your thought process. And your thought process affects how you design. And HOW you design affects your ABILITY to design. So just be aware. Take a moment to think about what you’re eating and what mood you’re in. Then figure out what your optimal designer diet is.

9. Get your sleep.

Sleep is somewhat related to mood and energy just like your diet. I can’t go into a long discussion about the effects of proper sleep because, well, I don’t actually know anything about it. But I do know that we need our sleep. And I know that I become a slug when I haven’t had enough sleep. Suffice to say that it’s something to be aware of. What is your ideal sleep pattern? How much sleep do you need to be at your best?

designers block Getting your head out of the game

10. Take a walk.

More physiology coming at you; did you know that exercise releases endorphins? Endorphins are natural drugs in your brain that make you happy and relaxed. Also, a little time walking will allow your subconscious to work through the design project that is festering in your brain. We have a ping-pong table here at Go Media. A game or two of ping-pong has the same effect. It breaks up your brain waves and gives it some time. Innovation is just around the corner!

In conclusion – you’re going to get designer’s block. It’s inevitable. Don’t get frustrated and upset. Just accept it as part of your job. Now, eat some beef jerky as you go for a walk around the block to check out the local graffiti wall. I promise by the time you get back you’ll feel right as rain.

About the Author, William Beachy

I grew up in Cleveland Hts. Ohio and was drawing constantly. As a child I took art classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art and eventually became known as the "class artist." I graduated from The Ohio State University's department of Industrial Design. I have always tried to blend my passion for illustration with Graphic Design. Go Media was the culmination of my interests for both business and art. I'm trying to build a company that is equally considerate of our designers AND our clients.
Discover More by William Beachy

Discussion

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  • http://www.thisisaaronslife.com Aaron Irizarry

    Great article thanks!!!

  • http://www.thisisaaronslife.com Aaron Irizarry

    Great article thanks!!!

  • http://cruciald.com john

    Bill,

    Thanks for the post. It seems like there are always times that you just can’t seem to get it going on a project. This is some great advice for getting past those blocks. I would like to add that working on something else sometimes frees your mind up for working on the thing your not thinking about. It’s like having that eureka moment on some problem when you are sleeping…your mind is working on solutions even when you are unaware. Again thanks for the great post and keep them coming.

    http://cruciald.com

  • http://cruciald.com john

    Bill,

    Thanks for the post. It seems like there are always times that you just can’t seem to get it going on a project. This is some great advice for getting past those blocks. I would like to add that working on something else sometimes frees your mind up for working on the thing your not thinking about. It’s like having that eureka moment on some problem when you are sleeping…your mind is working on solutions even when you are unaware. Again thanks for the great post and keep them coming.

    http://cruciald.com

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com Chris OB

    Those are some great tips. For Number 9, “Get Your Sleep” – I wanted to add that I keep a sketchpad near my bed. It’s amazing how many times my subconsious comes up with some great idea in the middle of the night, (usually a solution to a problem I had been working on all day) and when that happens it helps to jot it down right away, because sometimes I just wont remember it in the morning. Then again, sometimes I look at what I wrote down and say “What the heck was I thinking?”

  • http://www.chrisobriendesign.com Chris OB

    Those are some great tips. For Number 9, “Get Your Sleep” – I wanted to add that I keep a sketchpad near my bed. It’s amazing how many times my subconsious comes up with some great idea in the middle of the night, (usually a solution to a problem I had been working on all day) and when that happens it helps to jot it down right away, because sometimes I just wont remember it in the morning. Then again, sometimes I look at what I wrote down and say “What the heck was I thinking?”

  • http://twitter.com/Adam_Wagner/statuses/967597566 Adam_Wagner (Adam_Wagner)

    start your Monday off with a designer’s pep talk: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://twitter.com/naldzgraphics/statuses/967602403 naldzgraphics (Ronald Bien)

    RT @Adam_Wagner start your Monday off with a designer’s pep talk: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://twitter.com/aaroni268/statuses/967601669 aaroni268 (Aaron Irizarry)

    RT @Adam_Wagner start your Monday off with a designer’s pep talk: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://twitter.com/kylesteed/statuses/967603449 kylesteed (Kyle Steed)

    RT @aaroni268: RT @Adam_Wagner start your Monday off with a designer’s pep talk: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://www.candothat.com Patti

    Wow I can relate to everything in your article.

    Thanks

  • http://www.candothat.com Patti

    Wow I can relate to everything in your article.

    Thanks

  • http://blog.mreyes.tv Miguel Reyes

    Great post. Plenty of tips I can now use when I get stuck on a project. Number 8 really caught my attention, I will have to try a better diet and see what happens :). Also number 10 is something I have yet to try, just might have to go a take a walk now. Thanks

  • http://blog.mreyes.tv Miguel Reyes

    Great post. Plenty of tips I can now use when I get stuck on a project. Number 8 really caught my attention, I will have to try a better diet and see what happens :). Also number 10 is something I have yet to try, just might have to go a take a walk now. Thanks

  • Matt Smartt

    Hey great article Bill! The diet part is so true, people don’t always realize how much diet affects performance.

  • Franko

    Oh Billy, oh Billy… great article dude! It proves that sometimes huge caffeine burst is very useful :)

    Everything you’re writing about relates to my designer’s blocks strictly like hell. It’s time to fight it, with your help that finally seems to be possible. Yeah! :)

  • http://www.robotmojo.com JoMo

    Great entry Bill. Really dig how the diet section was longer than the others. There are a TON of good articles on “brain foods” that stimulate clearer thinking – sources I dont have readily available, but will cite if pressed. Foods like lentyls and nuts and stuff (proteins, like you said – but those that contain omega-3 fatty acids [i think?]). Having a can of nuts on your desk to snack on WILL MAKE A YOU A BETTER ARTIST. Kidding, but I’ll seriously try anything for a while if it might have some tangible results.

    It’s a process to learn to not get down on yourself (especially in the brainstorming phase), but I think everything you mentioned here definitely goes a long way in just imploring artists to keep on keepin’ on. thanks!

  • http://www.robotmojo.com JoMo

    Great entry Bill. Really dig how the diet section was longer than the others. There are a TON of good articles on “brain foods” that stimulate clearer thinking – sources I dont have readily available, but will cite if pressed. Foods like lentyls and nuts and stuff (proteins, like you said – but those that contain omega-3 fatty acids [i think?]). Having a can of nuts on your desk to snack on WILL MAKE A YOU A BETTER ARTIST. Kidding, but I’ll seriously try anything for a while if it might have some tangible results.

    It’s a process to learn to not get down on yourself (especially in the brainstorming phase), but I think everything you mentioned here definitely goes a long way in just imploring artists to keep on keepin’ on. thanks!

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    Excellent article! Sadly, I’m failing at most of those steps today…

  • http://www.battlemedialab.com Joe

    Excellent article! Sadly, I’m failing at most of those steps today…

  • Pingback: Heads Up Seven Up Blogroll for October 20th | GrandmasterB dot com

  • Ty (tzmedia)

    Bill… D-oo-oo-u-d-d-e hey what a great post, with those skills you should write a weekly comic strip. I’ld sign-up in a heartbeat!
    Thanks again, hey is that round-headed guy the ex-happy face recently unemployed from Walmart??!?
    Rumor has it he was told to take a hike in favor of one luminscent asterisk.
    http://smartblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/the-birth-of-the-walmart-asterisk/
    lol.

  • http://www.classicwfl.com WFL

    I’m in agreement with Chris, and I do this for more than my design work. Some of my best musical works (I’m a composer of about 7-8 years, performer for over 15) have come in that fuzzy area of half-sleep (which I spend a lot of time in – I have a hard time turning my brain off). I keep at least my desktop machine on 24/7, so I can jot down lyrics. I also keep all my recording gear hooked up, including one guitar and one vox mic, so I can quickly lay down a melody before I lose it.

    Same goes for design work. Keep pen and paper handy, and if it is a design theme you can’t draw but need to handle digitally, you are all set (I often sleep with my laptop next to me on the bed for this purpose – yeah, I’m single :)).

  • http://www.classicwfl.com WFL

    I’m in agreement with Chris, and I do this for more than my design work. Some of my best musical works (I’m a composer of about 7-8 years, performer for over 15) have come in that fuzzy area of half-sleep (which I spend a lot of time in – I have a hard time turning my brain off). I keep at least my desktop machine on 24/7, so I can jot down lyrics. I also keep all my recording gear hooked up, including one guitar and one vox mic, so I can quickly lay down a melody before I lose it.

    Same goes for design work. Keep pen and paper handy, and if it is a design theme you can’t draw but need to handle digitally, you are all set (I often sleep with my laptop next to me on the bed for this purpose – yeah, I’m single :)).

  • http://www.pixeldeath.com Curvball

    Great tips, most of them I follow anyways :) – instead of a walk, I normally try get at least one session a day on my skateboard.

  • http://www.pixeldeath.com Curvball

    Great tips, most of them I follow anyways :) – instead of a walk, I normally try get at least one session a day on my skateboard.

  • http://somosmultimedia.net JM

    Thank you SO MUCH for this, I’ve noticed most of this work for me when I get blocked, but I needed someone to remind of what I was doing wrong… Thank you!
    I really like your webzine!

  • http://somosmultimedia.net JM

    Thank you SO MUCH for this, I’ve noticed most of this work for me when I get blocked, but I needed someone to remind of what I was doing wrong… Thank you!
    I really like your webzine!

  • brian

    seems like the more you think about a design the harder it is to do anything. just dont think about it so much and you’ll have more idea flow.

  • http://twitter.com/brownaddesign/statuses/967760594 brownaddesign (Neil Brown)

    Reading: 10 Tips to Avoid Designer’s Block (GoMediaZine) http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • brian

    seems like the more you think about a design the harder it is to do anything. just dont think about it so much and you’ll have more idea flow.

  • http://twitter.com/louberee/statuses/967783693 louberee (louberee)

    10 Tips to avoid designer’s block. | GoMediaZine http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://twitter.com/vvaz/statuses/967809020 vvaz (vvaz)

    [bookmark] 10 Tips to avoid designer’s block. | GoMediaZine http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • ChequeredManiac

    Great Post, some classic little stories. I was having a bit of Design Block there but its ebbing away.
    Thanks.

  • http://www.symmetricforest.wordpress.com Daniel

    Men, it´s funny, just today i was angry because i´m blocked and worried too!!. this is a signal of god!!!

  • http://www.symmetricforest.wordpress.com Daniel

    Men, it´s funny, just today i was angry because i´m blocked and worried too!!. this is a signal of god!!!

  • http://twitter.com/jeff_finley/statuses/967914084 jeff_finley (Jeff Finley)

    I’m reading 10 tips to avoid designers block. Written by my colleague Bill at Go Media. Good tips. http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://www.ilovecolors.com.ar Daxion

    Some of greatest Disney animators (in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston age) found quite hard to work with music, they said that it distracted them. Then again, it’s 2000 now, and I usually work with music, but sometimes when it’s silent I can focus a little more.

  • http://www.ilovecolors.com.ar Daxion

    Some of greatest Disney animators (in Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston age) found quite hard to work with music, they said that it distracted them. Then again, it’s 2000 now, and I usually work with music, but sometimes when it’s silent I can focus a little more.

  • Matt Smartt

    Hey great article Bill! The diet part is so true, people don’t always realize how much diet affects performance.

  • Franko

    Oh Billy, oh Billy… great article dude! It proves that sometimes huge caffeine burst is very useful :)

    Everything you’re writing about relates to my designer’s blocks strictly like hell. It’s time to fight it, with your help that finally seems to be possible. Yeah! :)

  • http://www.Ai3d.net Abdullah Manzoor

    “That won’t work. Think of something else you loser.”

    HAHAHAHAHA, I can so relate to that. Great article! Although I don’t think I’ll ever exercise

  • http://www.Ai3d.net Abdullah Manzoor

    “That won’t work. Think of something else you loser.”

    HAHAHAHAHA, I can so relate to that. Great article! Although I don’t think I’ll ever exercise

  • Ty (tzmedia)

    Bill… D-oo-oo-u-d-d-e hey what a great post, with those skills you should write a weekly comic strip. I’ld sign-up in a heartbeat!
    Thanks again, hey is that round-headed guy the ex-happy face recently unemployed from Walmart??!?
    Rumor has it he was told to take a hike in favor of one luminscent asterisk.
    http://smartblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/08/the-birth-of-the-walmart-asterisk/
    lol.

  • Simon H.

    Hi GoMedia team.
    This is a really interesting article, thanks for sharing these tips.

  • Brandon

    Nice work, thanks for the tips. Everyone of them is so true. It was great to see how they all seem to interdependent with one another.

  • Brandon

    Nice work, thanks for the tips. Everyone of them is so true. It was great to see how they all seem to interdependent with one another.

  • ChequeredManiac

    Great Post, some classic little stories. I was having a bit of Design Block there but its ebbing away.
    Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/desaraev/statuses/968196121 desaraev (Desarae A. Veit)

    Do you ever get designers block? @ivesdigital sent me this little “Gem” to help you out! http://ad.vu/frfw

  • Aaron

    Thanks for the article, Seems like getting away from the computer helps me a lot. Also, as weird as it seems listening to new/ different music that I don’t listen to much also seems to help at times.

    Also going back to keywords that are associated with the project and attempting to expand that list briefly I find very helpful. A good way to do this is to take a piece of paper and just start writing anything that comes to mind that is somehow related to the project. Don’t cut anything out, just write everything down. This often gives you a different perspective and can give you very good ideas that you probably would have never thought of before.

    Thanks again

  • http://choppre.deviantart.com Chopper | ChopperDesigns

    thanks for the tips very helpful

  • http://choppre.deviantart.com Chopper | ChopperDesigns

    thanks for the tips very helpful

  • Pingback: 10 Tips to Avoid Designer’s Block

  • http://www.rotatecanvas.com Mark

    Excellent!

    I’d like to add sports. I play sports to clear my mind. When I block-up I go to the gym and shoot some hoops, and if I’m lucky there are more people to play a game with.
    Helps to loosen up (advise #1 here), clear your mind, and stay in shape.

  • http://www.rotatecanvas.com Mark

    Excellent!

    I’d like to add sports. I play sports to clear my mind. When I block-up I go to the gym and shoot some hoops, and if I’m lucky there are more people to play a game with.
    Helps to loosen up (advise #1 here), clear your mind, and stay in shape.

  • Simon H.

    Hi GoMedia team.
    This is a really interesting article, thanks for sharing these tips.

  • Aaron

    Thanks for the article, Seems like getting away from the computer helps me a lot. Also, as weird as it seems listening to new/ different music that I don’t listen to much also seems to help at times.

    Also going back to keywords that are associated with the project and attempting to expand that list briefly I find very helpful. A good way to do this is to take a piece of paper and just start writing anything that comes to mind that is somehow related to the project. Don’t cut anything out, just write everything down. This often gives you a different perspective and can give you very good ideas that you probably would have never thought of before.

    Thanks again

  • http://twitter.com/rutiso/statuses/968619150 rutiso (Max R. Scheer)

    Love this … “10 Tips to avoid designer’s block” even if i think that sometimes good design comes out of “bad mood” http://is.gd/4t0N

  • Tom

    Great post! Even though we all know it’s something usual, sometimes I get so stuck it effects everything around me. At some point it got so far up my head I thought I’d never make a good design or drawing ever. But yeah, distraction is the key to succes in those times. Thanks for the advice Bill :)

  • Stu Greenham

    Great post :) I’m sure everyone can relate to this, and don’t doubt everyone has gone through the old Designers block once in a while!

  • http://www.howtostartaclothingcompany.com How to start a Clothing Compan

    Great article. I’m going to have to reread this later.

    I’m studying Advertising which is all about ideas. I’ve always had the ability to see the work that’s being done and put my own twist on it and create original out of the box thinking. It was really hard to describe my process but until now. I bought a book called how to get ideas by Jack Foster and there was a quote in the first chapter that explained how to get ideas very well.

    Herman Von Helmholtz, the German philosopher, said he used three steps to get new thoughts.

    The first was “Preparation”, the time during which he investigated the problem in all directions.

    The second was “Incubation” when he didn’t think consciously about the problem at all.

    The third was “Illumination” , when happy ideas come unexpectedly without effort like an inspiration.

    I’ve been using this method and for a while and it’s really weird how ideas just pop into my head, mostly right before I go to sleep.

  • http://www.howtostartaclothingcompany.com How to start a Clothing Company

    Great article. I’m going to have to reread this later.

    I’m studying Advertising which is all about ideas. I’ve always had the ability to see the work that’s being done and put my own twist on it and create original out of the box thinking. It was really hard to describe my process but until now. I bought a book called how to get ideas by Jack Foster and there was a quote in the first chapter that explained how to get ideas very well.

    Herman Von Helmholtz, the German philosopher, said he used three steps to get new thoughts.

    The first was “Preparation”, the time during which he investigated the problem in all directions.

    The second was “Incubation” when he didn’t think consciously about the problem at all.

    The third was “Illumination” , when happy ideas come unexpectedly without effort like an inspiration.

    I’ve been using this method and for a while and it’s really weird how ideas just pop into my head, mostly right before I go to sleep.

  • http://www.saturated.dk Esben Kvorning

    Great article, some really good tips to pick up on :)

    I especially struggle with #3 since second guessing something even before you’ve tried it can really kill creativity.

    For instance, when doing a mockup I start asking myself silly questions like “How will I write the CSS in order to get this working in IE6?” which is completely unnecessary in the mockup phase yet I still can’t shake those questions.

    Another thing which I’ve found helps quite a lot when I need to be creative is to turn my off my phone and close my email/IM. Previously I used to work best at night, simply because everyone else was asleep and I wouldn’t be disturbed those random emails, phonecalls and IM’s.

  • http://www.saturated.dk Esben Kvorning

    Great article, some really good tips to pick up on :)

    I especially struggle with #3 since second guessing something even before you’ve tried it can really kill creativity.

    For instance, when doing a mockup I start asking myself silly questions like “How will I write the CSS in order to get this working in IE6?” which is completely unnecessary in the mockup phase yet I still can’t shake those questions.

    Another thing which I’ve found helps quite a lot when I need to be creative is to turn my off my phone and close my email/IM. Previously I used to work best at night, simply because everyone else was asleep and I wouldn’t be disturbed those random emails, phonecalls and IM’s.

  • http://twitter.com/mjnewham Martin Newham

    Wow! this is a very useful article; I’l make sure I pass it on.. thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/mjnewham Martin Newham

    Wow! this is a very useful article; I’l make sure I pass it on.. thanks.

  • Lost Marble Media

    Thanks!!! I really needed this just now!

  • http://insicdesigns.com insic

    Thanks for this useful tips.

  • http://insicdesigns.com insic

    Thanks for this useful tips.

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  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Great advice. I also like all the little illustrations!

  • http://www.geoffmay.com Geoff May

    Great advice. I also like all the little illustrations!

  • http://www.spgrafiks.com Simona

    Thanks for sharing….:)

  • http://www.spgrafiks.com Simona

    Thanks for sharing….:)

  • http://www.kgbadvertising.com KGB Advertising

    This is a great article. I find myself using #3 more and more often as a starting point.

    I’ll be passing this around the office. Thanks.

  • http://www.kgbadvertising.com KGB Advertising

    This is a great article. I find myself using #3 more and more often as a starting point.

    I’ll be passing this around the office. Thanks.

  • Tom

    Great post! Even though we all know it’s something usual, sometimes I get so stuck it effects everything around me. At some point it got so far up my head I thought I’d never make a good design or drawing ever. But yeah, distraction is the key to succes in those times. Thanks for the advice Bill :)

  • http://www.createatwill.com Will

    Fantastic post! I wish our workplace had a ping pong table or similar to relax every now and again. It’s these old ideals that our bosses have however, that says we are here to work – but I challenge anybody to look at a screen all day and not become tired and drained.

    This shouldn’t just be for designers/creatives though, this should be standard in any office environment. An energetic kick-up-the-ass and quick co-worker chat. 30 mins of work time gone, but 30 mins less of tired looking produce!

  • http://www.createatwill.com Will

    Fantastic post! I wish our workplace had a ping pong table or similar to relax every now and again. It’s these old ideals that our bosses have however, that says we are here to work – but I challenge anybody to look at a screen all day and not become tired and drained.

    This shouldn’t just be for designers/creatives though, this should be standard in any office environment. An energetic kick-up-the-ass and quick co-worker chat. 30 mins of work time gone, but 30 mins less of tired looking produce!

  • Stu Greenham

    Great post :) I’m sure everyone can relate to this, and don’t doubt everyone has gone through the old Designers block once in a while!

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  • http://www.alanvalek.com/ alanvalek.com

    Nice post. A good refresher course in how to keep you motivated, which as you know is very hard sometimes, thanks.

  • http://www.alanvalek.com/ alanvalek.com

    Nice post. A good refresher course in how to keep you motivated, which as you know is very hard sometimes, thanks.

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    Related to keeping a notepad at your bed side, I’ve often found that some of my very best ideas come when I’m taking a long road trip.

    There is something about the hypnotizing affect of driving on the freeway that sparks ideas. I use my cell phone to call myself at the office and I leave myself a message of the ideas that pop into my head.

    -Bill

  • http://www.gomedia.us Bill

    Related to keeping a notepad at your bed side, I’ve often found that some of my very best ideas come when I’m taking a long road trip.

    There is something about the hypnotizing affect of driving on the freeway that sparks ideas. I use my cell phone to call myself at the office and I leave myself a message of the ideas that pop into my head.

    -Bill

  • Lost Marble Media

    Thanks!!! I really needed this just now!

  • http://www.lymancreative.com Ricky

    Great post … came just in time too! I can really identify with the proper lifestyle elements that contribute to the creative pool. kudos!

  • http://www.lymancreative.com Ricky

    Great post … came just in time too! I can really identify with the proper lifestyle elements that contribute to the creative pool. kudos!

  • skyers

    Great post! Keep ‘em coming!

  • skyers

    Great post! Keep ‘em coming!

  • http://svensworld.de sven

    Some great tips. The tip with sleep can work in both ways, sometimes you get hyped when you haven’t slept for a day, or just slept 1-2 hours for a few days, but overall you are usually far more productive when you sleep until you wake up by yourself and have a great start in the day. And I guess it’s a big difference between creating artworks and designing, due to design having more rules than art that can be broken due to the lack of sleep.

  • http://svensworld.de sven

    Some great tips. The tip with sleep can work in both ways, sometimes you get hyped when you haven’t slept for a day, or just slept 1-2 hours for a few days, but overall you are usually far more productive when you sleep until you wake up by yourself and have a great start in the day. And I guess it’s a big difference between creating artworks and designing, due to design having more rules than art that can be broken due to the lack of sleep.

  • http://myspace.com/canadiansunset Maurits

    nice article!.. thanks!

  • http://myspace.com/canadiansunset Maurits

    nice article!.. thanks!

  • CR

    Love this post. I’m right with you on these, especially feeling how you gave a shout to protein. Thats what I’m talking about!! The crucial…

  • CR

    Love this post. I’m right with you on these, especially feeling how you gave a shout to protein. Thats what I’m talking about!! The crucial…

  • http://www.dannyhinde.com Danny

    Great post – as usual! My favourite post of the week :D I keep meaning to start a sketchbook full of inspiration for designing but as usual I keep putting it off!

  • http://www.dannyhinde.com Danny

    Great post – as usual! My favourite post of the week :D I keep meaning to start a sketchbook full of inspiration for designing but as usual I keep putting it off!

  • http://tendou86.blogspot.com/ Takumi86

    i have some experience with those tips but not all, Thanks for sharing btw and keep posting this stuff mate :)

  • http://tendou86.blogspot.com/ Takumi86

    i have some experience with those tips but not all, Thanks for sharing btw and keep posting this stuff mate :)

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  • http://twitter.com/Vinoj/statuses/977964799 Vinoj (Vinoj)

    Fuh ma peeps at EF: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • Ben

    so true in every single aspect. Good to know that other Designers face the same Problems, that helps a lot. Keep on writing, you’re doing a great job.

  • Ben

    so true in every single aspect. Good to know that other Designers face the same Problems, that helps a lot. Keep on writing, you’re doing a great job.

  • Crisanto

    Nice article, I love it! thanks bill…..

  • Crisanto

    Nice article, I love it! thanks bill…..

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  • klara

    Betty Edwards’ “drawing on the right side of the brain” worked wonders for me.
    She defines the left side as: conscious thinking, judging, labeling, symbols … and the right side as: really seeing, shapes without names, 3D-2D, math, creativity, aesthetics, meditating, aiming (javelin, archery, ping-pong), the zone …
    She gives drawing exercises to temporarily silence that noisy, nosy left side. Temporarily is right, I wouldn’t let my right side handle money business for example

    It’s the same zone for any creative activity so a mathematician can get in with a drawing excercice (don’t mind the resulting artwork) or a designer can go ping-pong (not on olympic levels either I suppose)
    Some preoccupations of the left side can keep it awake no matter what, fear, nausea, stress …

    Once you get familiar with the zone you see many entrances. No not drugs, that’s a trap instead of a door ;)

  • klara

    Betty Edwards’ “drawing on the right side of the brain” worked wonders for me.
    She defines the left side as: conscious thinking, judging, labeling, symbols … and the right side as: really seeing, shapes without names, 3D-2D, math, creativity, aesthetics, meditating, aiming (javelin, archery, ping-pong), the zone …
    She gives drawing exercises to temporarily silence that noisy, nosy left side. Temporarily is right, I wouldn’t let my right side handle money business for example

    It’s the same zone for any creative activity so a mathematician can get in with a drawing excercice (don’t mind the resulting artwork) or a designer can go ping-pong (not on olympic levels either I suppose)
    Some preoccupations of the left side can keep it awake no matter what, fear, nausea, stress …

    Once you get familiar with the zone you see many entrances. No not drugs, that’s a trap instead of a door ;)

  • http://twitter.com/osmala/statuses/981998282 osmala (osmala)

    10 tips to avoid designs block, http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj tip by@iforgot

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbomade.com Jacob Campbell

    I love the great stances I’m seeing on eating and exercise right when it comes to design. I know I can’t make anything when my diet’s full of crap.

  • http://aetoricdesign.carbomade.com Jacob Campbell

    I love the great stances I’m seeing on eating and exercise right when it comes to design. I know I can’t make anything when my diet’s full of crap.

  • http://twitter.com/aldomatic/statuses/982354495 aldomatic (aldomatic)

    10 tips to avoid designers block: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

  • http://twitter.com/ChunLum/statuses/982966508 ChunLum (Lori Lum)

    10 Tips to Avoid Designers Block: http://is.gd/4t0N

  • http://seo.greenlogicindia.com/ SEO

    Wow very use full article, Keep it up

  • http://seo.greenlogicindia.com/ SEO

    Wow very use full article, Keep it up

  • http://www.ftfmedia.net Chris

    Thanks for this awesome post. These are most definitely the things that I lack and need to work on but actually reading it somewhere instead of just telling myself helps a lot! great post!

  • http://www.ftfmedia.net Chris

    Thanks for this awesome post. These are most definitely the things that I lack and need to work on but actually reading it somewhere instead of just telling myself helps a lot! great post!

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  • pseudokiddo

    Grrrrreat!! Thanks for the advise. I also find a bowl of frosted flakes and a little pot goes a long way in the creative department as well!

    Oh yeah, thanks for the watercolor too, fatcatinc.net.

  • pseudokiddo

    Grrrrreat!! Thanks for the advise. I also find a bowl of frosted flakes and a little pot goes a long way in the creative department as well!

    Oh yeah, thanks for the watercolor too, fatcatinc.net.

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  • Zee

    hey im a design student and about to enter my final year in college.
    i can relate my so called “design student life” with your article.
    i do feel not creative some times when doing my assignments or stuck and just staring at my monitor with blank stares.
    but after i read trough all ur article here i feel so much better and inspired. keep writing an amazing stuff :]

  • Zee

    hey im a design student and about to enter my final year in college.
    i can relate my so called “design student life” with your article.
    i do feel not creative some times when doing my assignments or stuck and just staring at my monitor with blank stares.
    but after i read trough all ur article here i feel so much better and inspired. keep writing an amazing stuff :]

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  • Max Weir

    Great post, I usually find when I’m driving long distances can really help out too. Sometimes I like to pick a logo or brand on the side of a truck and then imagine what I would do as a design for that client, it really helps you think creatively in a small amount of time and can give you more ideas at the same time.

  • Max Weir

    Great post, I usually find when I’m driving long distances can really help out too. Sometimes I like to pick a logo or brand on the side of a truck and then imagine what I would do as a design for that client, it really helps you think creatively in a small amount of time and can give you more ideas at the same time.

  • http://ujwol.com.np ujwol

    thankx dude its good article
    I will try these things

  • http://ujwol.com.np ujwol

    thankx dude its good article
    I will try these things

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  • http://twitter.com/ksuyin/statuses/1010175254 ksuyin (Su Yin Khoo)

    GoMedia has ten tips to avoid designer’s bloc: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

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  • Hishman

    Great post :)
    Really enjoyed it :)
    Keep up the great work !

  • Hishman

    Great post :)
    Really enjoyed it :)
    Keep up the great work !

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  • http://twitter.com/kcxlife/statuses/1022788541 kcxlife (Claudio Cárdenas)
  • Stu McDonald

    Great article!

    I’m a really big fan of articles about tapping into that ‘creative zone’, and is a cut above the rest!

    Keep up the good work!

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  • Stu McDonald

    Great article!

    I’m a really big fan of articles about tapping into that ‘creative zone’, and is a cut above the rest!

    Keep up the good work!

  • http://www.davidpcrawford.com David P Crawford

    Definitely dig this article. Glad to see other designers have the same issues I have. Thanks for the nice read :)

  • http://www.davidpcrawford.com David P Crawford

    Definitely dig this article. Glad to see other designers have the same issues I have. Thanks for the nice read :)

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  • http://twitter.com/marifomin/statuses/1063205496 marifomin (Mari Fomin)

    Bom, esse site promete a solução: http://tinyurl.com/6xgxcj

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  • mido

    thanks alot it worked for me just fine
    thanks

  • mido

    thanks alot it worked for me just fine
    thanks

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  • maya

    thank u , i realy needed that.

  • maya

    thank u , i realy needed that.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/jayaugust Jay August

    great article, very well written and inspiring. Kinda amazing that an article about avoiding designers block, actually got me out of a designers block :)

  • http://www.twitter.com/jayaugust Jay August

    great article, very well written and inspiring. Kinda amazing that an article about avoiding designers block, actually got me out of a designers block :)

  • http://dtsn.co.uk Daniel

    Thanks for using the tweetmeme button. :)

  • http://dtsn.co.uk Daniel

    Thanks for using the tweetmeme button. :)

  • http://www.printplace.com/printing/full-color-brochure-printing.aspx Color Brochures

    All great tips. I’d like to add to #10. If you consistently exercise, your mind will be clearer and by walking or jogging or doing something that doesn’t take concentration, you free up your right brain to work on ideas and problems for you. Also, consistent exercise leads to better sleep, which leads to a better diet. Getting out into the sun or just in nature in general is a great brain boost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=536633351 facebook-536633351

    Thanks for such a great article – I'm feeling slighty un-blocked already!

  • http://www.nexodigital.cl/diseno-web.html creacion paginas web

    Get your head out of the “game.”
    the most useful for me!!!

  • http://vectorlady.com/ Vector Lady

    As for me I like Illustrations more then article =)

  • http://vectorlady.com/ Vector Lady

    As for me I like Illustrations more then article =)

  • DuncanDuckz

    Wow! this is some great advice – thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.duckonwater.co.uk DuncanDuckz

    Wow! this is some great advice – thanks for sharing.

  • http://digitalartempire.com/ Digital Art Empire

    good stuff i need to sort my diet out i tend to eat carbs too much gonn quit coffee next year for sure tx fo rthis one helpfull hints

  • Madeline Talent

    Great Post on Designers block and steps to recover.

  • Dan

    Excellent job..
    dizi izle

  • http://www.scubesolution.com/ seo sem services

    great post is there have a look at this…

  • trancehood

    i found that if i dont masturbate than my imagination gets alot better.

  • Ryan Blandon

    I got all the way through the article, then read your conclusion and lost it all in a geek-gasm at the Matrix reference. Damn you, distractions!

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  • http://www.cardsoftware.net Amanda Smit

    Thank you for the excellent article, I think we have all been there with a mental block, Excellent advice!

  • http://seo1sem2services3.blogspot.com/ seo sem services

    thank’s for inform…

  • http://seo1sem2services3.blogspot.com/ seo sem services

    Great working i like…

  • http://profiles.google.com/aprasana.32 prasana A

    Great Post on Designers block and steps to recover.

  • http://profiles.google.com/benivolent Benivolent Soft Tech

    Great tips, most of them I follow anyways :) – instead of a walk, I normally try get at least one session a day on my skateboard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lex.singleton Alexander Singleton

    lol, great advice- beef jerky = essential design tool. Works for me!

  • http://www.domain2host.in Domain Registration

    Amazing blog, I am regular visitor of this website, keep up the good work.

  • http://twitter.com/theBlueMammoth Devin Bryce

    Found this on a particularly “blocked” day – thanks!

  • http://allandelacruz.com Xacto01

    Got it…. get loose.