"Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that's why it is so complicated." (Paul Rand, graphic designer)
Never does a page seem so bleak as when you experience a creative rut in design.
Design ruts are the graphic artist’s equivalent of writer’s block. And everyone has been there! The world’s most imaginative people have experienced this obstacle and found a way to battle through.
One benefit of getting stuck is that you’re forced to rediscover your own creativity! Need help getting started? Here are some different ways to break out of stagnation when you’re stuck on a design:
1. Think laterally
Designs are ultimately problems waiting to be solved.
When you are stymied by the project at hand, come at the problem from a different angle, no matter how extreme it might seem.
One way to do this is to temporarily focus your thinking around individual parts of a message, like why a client might need your product or what pictures might best communicate its benefits.
2. Concentrate on your market
What are your target customers used to seeing, and what would make them lean forward and take note?
Maybe you need to challenge existing assumptions and go for something bolder. For example, in the financial world, materials tend to be produced in very corporate colors, like navy blue and grey. How could a fresh design upend traditional concepts in a way that is appealing and energizing?
3. Try the “what if” or the “why” game
When designs don’t seem to flow, start with questions instead. Like this:
What if questions:
- What if I only use illustrations?
- What if I only use type?
- What if the type made the illustration?
- What if I draw it with my eyes closed?
- Why do I need to focus on this particular product feature?
- Why is this feature important to prospects?
- Why is this something that will impact their life in a significant way?
- Why is this something they need to think about now versus later?
4. Take a Quick Tutorial
While it can be tempting to rip off a design from someone else, one of the best ways to build your original muscle is to go back to the drawing board.
An easy way to do this is to jump into an online tutorial. Though traditionally intended to educate, tutorials can be a rich source of design inspiration. Don’t merely skim the tutorial and glance at the result, go through the tutorial step by step with the author.
Doing this will force you to think like another person as you try to understand the implementation of methods that aren’t your own. This can energize you to think about new possibilities.
Don’t Force a Solution
When you feel overwhelmed by your lack of inspiration, remember that feeling stuck is just another step in the creative process.
If all else fails, embrace the moment and give it some time. What seems like a rut now might be an important step on your creative journey. Be patient, learn from it, and trust that you’ll come out on the other side.
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