11 Paths to Creative Inspiration

June 5, 2020

Staying on top of your creative game is something that comes easy to anyone with a creative title, right? While that statement may be true most of the time, many factors can contribute to a creative slump. The good news is that there are countless ways to combat the absence of ideas, and anybody in any profession can benefit from a boost of inspiration from time to time. Whether you’re leading a team of designers or are the sole proprietor of your craft, your creative ability is something that can (and should) be exercised often. The next time you or your team need some creative inspiration, propose action items from the following list and see how many bright ideas are brought to life:

1. Sketch: Design a new logo… Create a new identity system (letterhead, brochure, business card, complete with b/w and 4-color schemes)… Redesign popular logos… Design a new typeface… Look in the mirror and sketch a self-portrait… Design your dream house…

A challenging exercise in figure drawing class is to sit across from a classmate and sketch their portrait in 60 seconds. Like musical chairs, switch seats when the time expires, sketch a different classmate for 60 seconds, and so on. This exercise teaches to focus on prominent features and boldly dive into the sketch with fast, purposeful movements. Ready or not, make it happen! The more you exercise your abilities in different ways, the easier it will be to stay in the mode of creativity. Not an artist by trade? Sketch anyway. Sometimes trying something you don’t think is your forte is a step in the right direction to open-mindedness.

2. Write: Challenge yourself to rhyme… Write a haiku… Jot down ideas in a journal… Reminisce about memories from the past… Make a list of future vacation spots, items for your bucket list, a to-do list to keep you organized…

Think about some of your favorite songs: do they rhyme? Did those songwriters consider rhyming a harmonious exploration or a challenging chore? Explore the different types of poetry, find excitement in synonyms, and challenge yourself to be creative in a non-visual descriptive medium. Spend time on your lunch break organizing your thoughts and tasks, and before you know it, the clutter in your mind will be organized as well.

3. Refresh your senses: Surround yourself with scents that evoke happiness or transport you to a favorite memory (cookies, herbs, flowers)… Treat yourself to visual stimulation (the changing colors of a sunset sky, cloud formations, waves in a body of water)… Listen to the world around you (thunder, rain, birds)… Examine different textures (tree bark, fur, cement)… Enjoy your favorite flavors (coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut)…

Stimulating your senses can evoke a burst of energy, excitement, happiness, and intrigue. Ever wonder why some model homes feature a platter of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies on the kitchen counter?

4. Collaborate: Ask an expert about their passion… Spend an hour with a new coworker… Build upon your circle of influence…

Ideas come in many forms. There’s a plethora of unique tidbits of inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest; from artists and photographers to cake decorators and chocolatiers… Find people whom you admire and learn from them. Sometimes asking another person for their point of view will help spark an idea you hadn’t originally considered. Even a simple conversation can show you a unique way of looking at the same thing differently.

5. Observe: Color variations in nature… Another artist at work… Architectural details… Wine labels and book covers, seashells and rocks…

Notice details. Even common items have interesting features, each of which comprise a structure unique from anything else in the world. How amazing that all species are vastly unique within each genus! Appreciate the individual parts that combine to create cohesive success.

6. Change your environment: Take the train downtown… Drive into the country… Visit a museum… Sit among gravestones… Enjoy the sunlight through stained glass windows… Stroll through a garden center in springtime… Browse model homes and historic places… Decorate your space… Organize your desk/closet/garage…

Removing yourself from the “creative slump” by changing your environment can have a huge impact on your perception and state of mind. Immersing yourself in a unique space can provide you with all the inspiration you need to view your task from a new angle and forge ahead with vigor!

7. Exercise: Swim… Walk… Practice your free throws… Practice yoga… Play a game of ping pong, bean bags, croquet, lawn jarts…

Exercising your body can do wonders for both your physical and mental state. And the good news is that exercise doesn’t have to be high-impact in order to make an impactful difference in your life. Whether it’s an hour of yoga once a week to calm the mind and keep yourself limber, or a stroll through a forest preserve on a peaceful autumn afternoon, keeping yourself moving provides the momentum you need to accelerate your creativity.

8. Experience: Attend a live performance… Attend a lecture on a unique topic…  Listen to music… Have a picnic… Swing on a swing set… Wash your car by hand… Visit a college campus… Visit a college campus on gameday…

There’s something electrifying about a college campus on gameday. Anyone with an ounce of school spirit can become energized by wearing school colors and collectively cheering in the end zone. Inspirational experiences come in many forms and settings. Actively immersing yourself within your surroundings can provide fuel for your creative genius to thrive in any environment.

9. Enlighten: Discover new color combinations… Browse idea magazines… Read the dictionary… Make friends with your thesaurus… Become ambidextrous…

A great way to build your creative repertoire is to write or draw with your opposite hand. The secret to challenging your skill level is to begin with a unique subject and simply draw what you see. For comparative sake, if you’re right-handed, draw your left hand. Then draw your right hand with your left. Try this exercise weekly, save your drawings, and see how your skill advances over time.

10. Learn: Test your knowledge of art history… Study typefaces and their variations… Try a new recipe… Learn a new language… Work puzzles…

Replacing a creative roadblock with interesting new information can spark a new perspective on the task at hand. Research your favorite holiday and see how it has evolved over time. Explore national customs during holiday time and how they differ around the world. Discovering the meaning behind traditions can help bring new insight to purposeful design, while allowing for a wide gamut of interpretative styles.

11. Explore a new medium: Paint… Photograph your work… Sculpt a bar of soap… Color in a coloring book with a new box of crayons (plus sharpener!)… Re-create an ordinary object utilizing non-traditional materials…

Challenging yourself to reach beyond your comfort zone can be a rewarding experience. Whichever avenue (or medium) you select as inspiration, the most important aspect is to try something new, and before you know it, your creativity will be soaring beyond your wildest dreams!

 

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