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Working Through Creative Block: 5 Tips from a Creative Designer

Written and Illustrated by: Carmen DeVeau

Creating is a process that begins with an idea. Next, you sketch, create concepts and build mockups. Finally, you move everything to your computer where you’ll finish your masterpiece. Sometimes this is an effective process and you end up with an exciting design. But what happens if your typical design routine just isn’t getting you there anymore? We like to call that a creative block. We are all too familiar with the feelings associated with a creative block. We spend hours spinning our wheels and trying to come up with the next Nike swoosh and end up with nothing (or something significantly subpar to what we had hoped). This has happened to me on more than one occasion.

Creative Block

Don’t be intimidated by a creative block. In fact, some of your best work will come after a creative block. Creative blocks force us to take paths we wouldn’t have otherwise and allow us to discover new, creative ideas. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve found helpful to break through my creative blocks:

heart eyes

Be inspired: Look around! There is design all around you, sometimes you just need a new perspective. A perfect way to do this is simply taking a walk! If you really let yourself acknowledge the design elements around you, you can find inspiration in signs, advertisements, logos and even architecture and clothing. If you prefer to keep things indoors, I recommend checking out one of the best inspiration platforms available to us, Pinterest! Get inspiration from people around you. Ask others for their feedback or opinion. Pull some inspiring creative quotes like these to help spark that creative fire.

coffee mug and chocolate

Take a break: Sometimes your brain is overloaded with too many ideas. Pause and do something that can clear your mind like scrolling through TikTok, (binge) watching Netflix or even just enjoying a cup of coffee. I find eating some chocolate helps significantly.

Try something different: Creators can get stuck doing the same thing over and over, falling back on our go-to layout works that sometimes, don’t work. Switch up your style for a change! It will take you places you never knew existed. Flip things upside down. Put the header at the bottom of the page. Why not?

happy brain

Don’t think about it too much: Deadlines and expectations can be daunting and some projects can seem overbearing. Stop worrying! Treat it as a fun project. Some of my best work has been created from the comfort of my couch, sketching by myself. Remember to have fun and enjoy your work!

pile of paper

Start over: Maybe you started on the wrong foot, it happens. But now you keep creating designs that you aren’t satisfied with. What now? Go back to the beginning. The thought of starting over can be intimidating, but it may be just the refresh your idea needs. Research your concept a little more; ask yourself the reason for your creation. If you are working with a client, don’t be afraid to ask for more information. This can help clarify thoughts or give you new ideas. I’ve started over multiple times in the past before following a path that lead me to a successful design.

Getting a creative block can make you feel like you want to give up. I’m here to tell you not to! Instead, give these tips a try. If others can get through a creative block, then so can you! Push through and don’t give up, the result will be a well thought out design you’ll be proud to share.


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