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How Do You Solve Creative Block?

By: Philip Defina July 4, 2010 Creator Hub, Resources
How Do You Solve Creative Block?

You’ve had the most kick ass ideas floating around in your head all week. You’ve been looking forward to transferring them to paper. So you grab your pencils, markers, inks, and begin to draw. And then the unthinkable happens, IT HITS YOU!!! You have just been struck by a case of Creative Block. So what is Creative Block, well creative block is the equivalent to writers block. Once it creeps up on you it stops you from spilling out your ideas or any ideas for that matter. In other words it’s the inability to create, to draw, to paint, to produce. The reality is, it happens to all of us whether you’re an artist, designer, or writer–or someone that just wants to get their ideas out. We’ve all experienced it. The main question remains: How do you get rid of it? How do you remove the “BLOCK” from Creative. In this article written by Alex Cornell he sits down with various professionals and asks them what is it that they do to overcome creative block.

Nicolas Felton

Nicolas Felton is a graphic designer based in New York City

I think I rely on a few tactics to keep my creativity flowing.

I try to alternate the tenor of my years, like crop rotations. In odd-numbered years (eg, 2009) I travel more and concentrate on personal projects and initiatives, while in even-numbered years (eg, 2008), I try to do more work and make more of a profit. In the odd years, I try to take a long trip. In 2005 I spent 5 weeks with a round-the-world ticket, while in 2007 I went to China, Tibet and Nepal for 3 weeks. After both trips, I returned to my desk filled with thoughts and initiative to create.

My other strategy is to keep my plate as full as possible. I tend to say yes to more than I can do, and the fear of failure keeps the work flowing.

When I’m really at a loss, and feel as if my designs are simply circling the drain, I will leave the office. There’s no point in trying to blindly bump into a solution, so whether it’s sketching in the park or reading a book, I avoid trying to use brute force to get out… it’s a bit like trying to get rid of the hiccups.

Tom Muller

Tom Muller is a Belgian graphic designer

To use this horribly overused sentence “I get inspiration from everywhere”, I do get ideas from the most banal things around me. To be honest, I rarely get stuck in a creative rut, there’s more than enough ideas swirling around in my head, its just a matter of priorities and time. I’ve been working on a typeface design on and off for almost a year, and while it is an incredibly gratifying and educational experience, it does stop me from doing other things… So maybe in that way I get stuck in a mental rut: wanting to move on to the next thing, but not before I finish the typeface. But then I’m being really anal and slow with the work on the typeface because I want it to be as perfect as I can make it. And so I continue to run forwards in circles.

Anyway I got the idea for the typeface by looking at some older type design work I had done (yes, sometimes your own work can be a source of ideas — thats what sketches and notebooks are for), and looking at vintage book covers and Wim Crouwel’s Hiroshima poster. So its always a factor of things in the end.

Which reminds me of something I saw on TV: Years ago I saw a documentary on a Belgian comic book artist who had adapted Joe Haldeman’s Forever War into a graphic novel, and a journalist asked him where he got all ideas for the designs of the space ships, and the artist pulled out a piece of a plastic hull for electric wiring (he had an background in architecture) and said he spotted that thing lying around one day in his studio and thought it would be ideal to design a spacecraft.

So there you go. Ideas are everywhere, especially when you’re not really looking for them.

Audrey Kawasaki

Audrey Kawasaki is a Los Angeles based painter and erotic artist

Whenever I feel like i’m in some sort of “rut” it’s usually just being distracted or worried about something that’s not relevant to the piece I’m working on.. or just not being able to sit still and concentrate for a long period of time. For years, I would just have music on in headphones, but for awhile now I’ve been addicted to various podcasts of informative shows, stories and ideas. Working while listening to these keeps my conscious mind stimulated in a different way, and seems to let my creative/visual side run loose and work without worry. Disconnecting from life’s daily distractions, and sort of separating myself into two halves feels like it’s been the best tactic for me to almost feel meditative while I paint.

To read more interviews on what these professionals are doing to overcome creative block, visit:

We at Septagon Studios have each had our fair share of creative blocks. We have come to understand that sometimes the best way to get out of creative block is by walking away from your work/project. You have to find that what inspires you, whether it may be a walk in the park, putting on your favourite video game, listening to music that pumps you up, watching a movie, reading a book–the truth is inspiration is everywhere it’s up to you to tap into it, how you go about doing it is entirely your choice.

What inspires you? When do you feel most creative? How do you get out of creative block? Let us know what works for you, or what doesn’t work. We’re interested in hearing your methods.

Photo by Flickr user justinisapilot

About the author

Philip Defina wrote 62 articles on this blog.

Philip Defina is the Art Director and co-founder of Septagon Studios Inc. (est. 2003) and Work In Comics (est. 2009) He is a design junkie with a passion for contemporary and graphic arts, photography, and architecture. He`s also a contributing writer for the Septagon Comic Blog with articles that focus on inspiration, art, and productivity. He studied Graphic Design and Advertising Design and quickly became fond of the word KERN.


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