20 ways to overcome creative block

By Tom May

It’s great working in a creative industry, but can be tricky to stay enthusiastic and inspired all the time. We asked leading designers how they beat creative block. Follow these 20 quick-fire to get your creative juices flowing again.

01. Tap into your subconscious

Shotopop took an imaginative approach in this Clarks Originals campaign

“Strange things happen in a semi-sleep state, when your unconscious takes over,” says Shotopop‘s Casper Franken. “Wake up and write down whatever was happening before you forget it.”

02. Get it down on paper

Write your main ideas down in columns, and list absolutely everything that comes to mind. You can mix and match the lists for unusual and original combinations.

03. Always carry a sketchbook

Jot down any ideas as an when they come to you

Don’t go looking for inspiration: “A visually loaded word or phrase can jump out from a passage of text, or a song,” proposes London based designer and illustrator Craig Ward. “Be sure to sketch those ideas down when they come.”

04. Don’t be afraid to step away

Completely open briefs can be the worst for causing creative block. Try to distance yourself from the project; take a break and come back to it with a clear head.

05. Finish what you’ve started

“There’s no such thing as a bad idea: the creative part is in seeing it though to completion, and turning dreams into reality,” argues Mr Mills, creative director at ustwo.

06. Put some fun in your studio

“Sterility leads to an empty void of nothingness,” adds Mills. Always try to inject some colour and life into your studio, and don’t run it like a clinic or a prison.

07. Don’t retread your steps

“Inspiration is intangible: you can’t do it on purpose,” believes illustrator Alex Trochut. “If you just try to reproduce how a good project happened in the past, you’ll never get the same result.”

08. Look in unlikely places

Go and do something else entirely. You’d be amazed at where new ideas are hiding out. They’re often where you would least expect them to be.

09. Expect the unexpected

Kjell Ekhorn (Norwegian) and Jon Forss (British) have worked together as Non-Format since 2000

“The best ideas don’t need to be sought out at all; you just have to train yourself not to swerve out of the way when they jump out in front of you,” remarks Jon Forss, co-founder of Non-Format.

10. Explore other creative disciplines

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Look beyond other illustrators and designers: photography, typography, fashion, film, packaging and signage, for instance.

11. Expand your mind

Kladnik & Neon is a duo at the crossroads of art, illustration and design

“It’s like mushroom picking: you wander through the magical woods of inspiration and see a big, beautiful mushroom,” are the surreal musings of Slovenian duo Kladnik & Neon. “Pick it, make a delicious meal, and if your friends like it, go into the woods for more.”

12. Go against the flow

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