By: Jordan Krueger
Whether a student or professional designer, mastering graphic design demands critical creative ideas at almost all points in time. However, like many creative professions and fields, you may not always receive that creative spark when you need it. Sometimes, you may feel like you haven’t thought of a creative design in weeks; you might even be anxious that you are losing your creative ability.
For most people in creative dry spells, I’ve found that there are often external, health factors that are having a large impact on their creative productivity. Having poor mental and physical health (and remember, the two are often interrelated) can have an effect on anyone’s productivity, particularly those relying on creative problem solving. So before even beginning to wonder whether you’ve chosen the right career, maybe you should first ask if you are properly caring for yourself.
Leave Your Desk and Get Some Fresh Air
This may seem unintuitive because most people suffering from creative blocks are already behind in their work and deadlines and feel like they need to be at their desk for the next thirteen hours. Still, getting some distance from the stress of your projects can often aid the creative process. Not to mention, going outdoors and doing some physical activity will give your body more energy, improve your mood, improve your ability to learn, and may even increase work productivity. Lastly, going outside might also give you some unique visual inspiration that you can then bring back to your designs.
Have You Slept and Eaten in a While? Do That
While exercise can make a critical change in your productivity, it will most likely harm your work performance if you aren’t eating and sleeping properly. Particularly when a student or freelancer, it is entirely too easy to put off sleep and meals in order to rush towards a deadline. However, these impulses are entirely foolish as they will often times impede the speed of your work in addition to sacrificing the quality. You simply cannot make good creative or critical decisions when your body is missing these essential components of good health.
Attend a Gallery, Museum, or Film
I am a huge fan of looking to other artistic media as sources for inspiration. This allows you to create completely genuine and innovative ideas for your designs rather than simply copying a style you saw on your monitor (still, no shame in that). Finding connections between different artistic media and graphic design will improve your ability as a designer and offer you a nice change of pace and fresh perspective before you dive back into your own projects.
Think of Reward Incentives
While it is always a good idea to keep on top of your health to ensure your creative and productivity juices are flowing optimally, at the end of the day you have to meet your deadlines. One of the best ways to force productivity from myself is to use some form of reward incentive. Perhaps I will treat myself to a nice meal once I’ve caught up, go out with friends for a night, or finally buy that expensive design gear I wanted. Do try not to depend on reward incentives for every design project; if you find yourself frequently promising yourself rewards for the most simple or standard projects, you should consider meeting with a career or guidance counselor.