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
- Surf endlessly through that big wave known as the Internet for design blogs, “Best of’s” and look at the portfolios of professionals.
- 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.
- 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."
Dealing with Creative "Burn Out" Link
One of the most difficult things designers have to deal with is their own creative “burn out.”5 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!7 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 experimentation8 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.
- 1 http://www.paul-rand.com/
- 2 http://www.miltonglaser.com/
- 3 http://www.davidcarsondesign.com/
- 4 http://designinformer.com/tag/ask-the-expert/
- 5 http://www.myinkblog.com/2009/04/07/how-to-avoid-designer-burnout/
- 6 http://stripz.org/38859
- 7 http://ffffound.com/
- 8 http://designinformer.com/benefits-experimentation/
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 Oxford, on March 15—16, with smart design patterns and front-end techniques.