Avoiding Designer’s Block

by Ryan McRyhew

17 November, 2011

At some point designer’s block is inevitable. Colors become dull, all typography starts to resemble Comic Sans, the vastness of white space stares right back into your soul. It’s an overwhelming feeling that usually strikes while the deadline  is breathing down your neck. While I do think that it’s unavoidable, there are some precautions I try to take to minimize the damage of designer’s block and keep the creativity flowing.

As tempting as smashingmagazine (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/) or any other design blog is for inspiration, I often find myself feeling less adequate after spending hours looking at other peoples design. Sometimes there’s nothing more inspiring than physically interacting with the world beyond your window. Whether you work near a park or a high rise, there are limitless amounts of colors, textures, and shape interactions. It can be as simple as going for a bike ride or grabbing a cup of coffee, being open and aware of your surroundings can really breathe new life into the creative process and break the monotony of our drag and drop routine.

Collaboration is key to our process at The Arland Group. Talking through a concept can help your ideas mature more organically. Asking questions can help to develop the idea as well as teach a whole new approach. Some of my best ideas have come up from simply starting a conversation, especially when it doesn’t pertain to the project at hand. Design is visual communication. It helps for me to remember that, rather than keep an idea in suppressed in my head until I break down.

When all else fails, I turn to music. I may be a bit biased because I myself am a musician, but nothing seems to inspire me more than sound. When I’m feeling complete stress over a project, music motivates me to move beyond it. It has the power to change my mind and mood almost instantaneously. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t find myself turning to my Itunes library for inspiration. I also think discovering new music is like developing a new technique. Breaking out of your old standards can inspire you to try new things and discover new ways of thinking. Here are a couple sites that I turn to when I’m looking for something new and interesting: 14tracks.com (http://14tracks.com/selections/182-14_tracks_present_future) and mimaroglumusicsales.com (http://www.mimaroglumusicsales.com/new.php?limit=25&page=2).

As hard as it is sometimes I think slowing down and avoiding stress are essential in avoiding designers block. Being open to new ideas and having the ability to communicate are extremely helpful for me. Feeling stuck is unavoidable. Being able to find and use your inspiration will help you to overcome this hurdle and ultimately become a better designer.