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Your Creative Drive, Design Informer

As graphic designers we are asked day in and day out to be creative, be original, and be knowledgeable. Our ideas can go anywhere from impressing a few fellow classmates to greatly increasing the revenue of a local/national establishment. Yet, how do we develop into a successful designer in the first place? Additionally, how do we stay on top of our game and continue to be inventive and reputable?

"The foundation of a successful designer is measured by his/her creative drive."

It is that drive that provides us with the inspiration and motivation to work towards something influential. However, discovering what drives us is likely as unique as our own design preference. Luckily, we live in a time today where designs from around the world are available within a few clicks of your mouse. So how can we increase and build our creative drive?

Expose Yourself Link


If you are a young designer who would like to strengthen your creative drive,
the most important advice I can give to you is this:

Expose yourself to the design community. Link

  1. Surf endlessly through that big wave known as the Internet for design blogs, “Best of’s” and look at the portfolios of professionals.
  2. Pick up the latest design magazines and absorb those articles that discuss why we’re still mesmerized by the likes of Paul Rand1, Milton Glaser2, David Carson3, etc. and flip over to that “Fresh” section to study the up and comings.
  3. Find out what/who influences you to pick up that pencil and paper and run with it.

Pick Someone’s Brains Link


It also wouldn’t hurt to study the brain of a creative professional. A lot of professionals are more than glad to help out young designers and share old "war stories" of projects gone awry in an attempt to help you become a better designer. You’ve got to know what good is before you can generate appreciable work yourself. A repeated line my professors have told us since day one is,

"Ninety-nine percent of everything you see is poorly designed. Having the understanding of why that one percent is admirable is edification within itself."

Don’t have access to some creative professionals? We do! Check out our Ask the Expert series.

Dealing with Creative "Burn Out" Link

One of the most difficult things designers have to deal with is their own creative “burn out.” We’ve all had days when going into the office (or the living room) is quite difficult and the motivation to create simply isn’t there. Being somewhat of an optimist, I try to pick at least one thing I admire from a current project and aim to spread that positive incentive throughout the rest of the project.

Study your problem. Ask yourself why it’s not working instead of jumping ship. The answer may be one extra thought away. You’ll also often find that the best remedy is to take an early lunch break. Getting your mind off of design and deciding on what type of ridiculously greasy burger you’d love to stuff your face in can do wonders.



A great site like FFFFOUND!4 offers troves of inspiration and can break your dry spell by recommending a variation of top-notch work to rejuvenate your creative drive. Getting off of the computer and sketching is a great way to explore ideas quickly and it often provokes multiple fresh ideas. New ideas may come your way through experimentation with different tools and mediums. Remember, it’s your mind, NOT your computer that is the most important design tool.

I hope that this article has helped many of you stay confident with your work and your ability to design. This is a fantastic field that we are all a part of, with many extremely talented individuals to inspire and help us along the way. I hope we all have a successful and inventive year as we strive to increase and improve our creative drive.

What are some of the things that you do to improve your creative drive? We’d love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment. It would be nice to hear from the rest of the design community. Thanks for reading this article.

Footnotes Link

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SmashingConf Barcelona 2016

Hold on, Tiger! Thank you for reading the article. Did you know that we also publish printed books and run friendly conferences – crafted for pros like you? Like SmashingConf Barcelona, on October 25–26, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.

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Josh Medrano is a San Antonio based designer who will be graduating this spring from the University of The Incarnate Word with a BFA in Graphic Design. He is also currently working for Wickley Interactive - an interactive and marketing agency. Josh also runs his own blog and portfolio website to help inspire and educate others about the design community.

  1. 1

    very nice article. i never realize it before. maybe you could (someday) list all the website that can be use for design inspirations.

  2. 3

    Believe it or not, but I face the opposite problem, that is, too many ideas. And honestly speaking, that is equally destructive. You start working on some idea and then you get another creative burst, which sometimes is so difficult to resist that you start pondering upon the new idea leaving the original idea behind. There have been times when I ended up doing nothing because I kept jumping from one idea to the other. Believe me guys, I am not bragging here that I am smart enough to get too many ideas. It really becomes a problem when start loosing focus due to frequent creative bursts. Too many ideas can also kill your productivity.

    • 4

      Correction, what I meant was – It really becomes a problem when you start loosing focus due to frequent creative bursts.

      • 5

        I know exactly where you’re coming from. When I begin a new project I strike inspiration from so many different areas. What helps me to narrow it down is to think of the objectives of the project. Write your ideas down…draw them out…get them on paper. Which ideas conceptually and graphically are close to my objective? Look at all of your ideas and try to eliminate the ones you feel are weaker than others and then push the remaining concepts. Even if you have another idea half way into the project, write it down and archive it. Old ideas come in handy more often than you think.

        Hope this helps.

      • 6

        I’m with you Adit. There are definitely times when you get so many ideas. My advice would be to write those ideas down and forget about them. Then at a later time, you can return and re-read your ideas and see if they are still worth doing.

        Too many times, we get ideas that aren’t really useful, and it helps to look at them again on another day. I would also suggest sharing your idea with someone you trust and asking them about it. It’s always nice to get a different perspective on our ideas.

      • 7

        Great tips Josh. Thanks for answering and giving your opinions regarding Adit’s questions.

    • 8

      @Josh I don’t have any problems while working on a website(for a client). For that, I already have the web design algorithm, which I have discussed earlier on this blog. The problem arises when I am working on personal projects and article ideas. When you get too many ideas for projects or articles, it becomes somewhat difficult to focus on one idea. To avoid this difficulty, I maintain something which I call as- “Tangent Log”, in which I write down all the project and article ideas with brief summary so that I can work upon them at a later stage. I think I should start meditation to help me focus on one thing at a time. :D

      • 9

        stop trying to show off.

      • 10

        Hello again Adit. Meditation definitely helps to clear your thoughts and to focus on just one idea. It’s a practice that most people don’t do anymore, but I believe it is very important.

        @LOL – Please be respectful. Next time, if you don’t even have the courage to put your real name and email, then don’t even comment at all. If you’re brave enough to mock others, then at least be brave enough to put your own name down. :)

  3. 11

    Thanks! Always great tips to keep in mind.

  4. 13

    Great article. People don’t realize how hard it is to “be creative” day in and day out sometimes. Just because we are “creatives” doesn’t mean it always comes to us during every waking moment of every day.

    Your readers might also be interested in this post as well:
    5 Steps to getting out of a creativity jam

    Thanks for sharing!

    • 14

      I agree, Preston. It’s definitely hard to always be creative day in and day out.

      Oh, and by the way, thanks for sharing that article. It was a nice read.

    • 15

      “It just has a bad timing sometimes…I’d rather have a creative block when I’m not working on client work…”

      So true! Haha. That’s why I think it’s very important for us to have some things that we do when we do hit that creative block. :)

  5. 16

    Great article! Sometimes I find what helps is to ‘wipe the slate clean’ and to get away from your usual source of inspiration, e.g the web, and go look at books, magazines, and the world around you instead. I find getting away from the information overflow that the internet provides can really help you see where to take a design.

    • 17

      Hi Grant, I agree with doing that as well. There are times when looking at the computer too long becomes very monotonous and we lose our creativity. A nice walk outside or exercise definitely gets the creative juices flowing again.

  6. 18

    Thank you all for your kind comments and thanks for those of you who shared your own recipes for success. It’s a learning experience in understanding how each one of you work to solve problems as well. I’ll be sure to try these tips on my next project(s). Thanks again.

    – Josh

    • 19

      I’m with you Josh. I also appreciate everyone for taking the time to add their thoughts to this article. It’s always interesting to read what others are doing and by doing so, it is very helpful as well.

      By the way, thank you so much for writing this article. I really appreciate it Josh and I’m sure the Design Informer readers appreciate it as well. :)

  7. 20

    Great advice, Erik. Definitely going to give this a shot.

  8. 21

    You’re welcome, Deepu!

  9. 22

    Staying with a project a little longer than necessary in order to have something to put aside for later is a fabulous idea. I am going to use this method with the next few pieces I create.

    I am a huge proponent of getting away from your workspace as a way to develop inspiration/avoid burnout. Usually a good brisk run or a short car drive will be enough to “reset” my creativity.

  10. 26

    Great Tips, thx 4 sharing :)

  11. 28

    Agree with article’s author. Thanks for nice reading!

  12. 30

    Hey mate, thanks for sharing your tips with us. I agree with taking inspiration from nature. You can definitely get inspired by going out and looking at nature. :)

  13. 31

    Glad you liked the post Deepu! :)

  14. 32

    Great idea Chris. Never thought of doing that before. I guess that’s a great idea to try. Taking advantage of that creativity shouldn’t hurt, right?

  15. 33

    Excellent tips Erik. I agree with you that there are too many designers who are starting off on the computer instead of a piece of paper. Sometimes it works, but more often than not, it’s a waste of time.

    I’d definitely love to hear more of your creative process as well. :)

  16. 34

    Thanks Brendan! By the way, that looks like a great idea. I am definitely looking forward to the launch! :)

  17. 35

    Great point Richie. Experimentation is definitely a key to staying creative. We actually have a great article on that as well.

    The Benefits of Experimentation

  18. 36

    Great advice Tom. I’m sure we all have some things that definitely inspire us every time.

    To me, there are a few sports movies that always seem to inspire me. There are some amazing songs as well. :)

    Oh, and by the way, seeing the bills also inspire me to be creative. :)

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  20. 38

    Great idea Tuhin. Mind mapping is always a good process to kick-start your creative process.


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