How to deal with Creative Block

The dreaded creative block! We’ve all been there.

Designers and illustrators experience moments where it seems like there’s no new, fresh way to solve a design problem.

At Pepperplane we’ve discovered a few effective tips and tricks to help get through a creative dry spell.

Let’s look at a few common “creativity killer” topics and how to overcome them:

  1. Pressure
  2. Tunnel vision
  3. Research
  4. Inspiration

1. Overcoming creative pressure

We all know the sinking feeling of a looming deadline and a blank page, when all you can think about is that dreaded date moving closer and closer.

Multiple causes can contribute to creative pressure, such as:

  • Procrastination
  • Tight deadlines
  • Overwhelming workload
  • Intimidating project or client

The power lies with you to be prepared, plan ahead, do your research, and tackle the project with full force. Follow that old adage “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Our tips:

  • Schedule time to think. Book out your diary so you can calmly consider, and reflect on, the work at hand. 
  • Plan ahead. Each project needs your full and undivided attention. If the project is flexible, discuss the deadline with your client. We’re sure they’d appreciate your honesty and openness. 
  • Divide and conquer. Try not to have too much on your plate at the start. Give yourself time to break the workload into manageable chunks so you can tackle each task in a productive manner.
  • Write it down. Lists sound old-fashioned but they’re definitely effective. Plot it out in order of priority so you can build the solution one block at a time.
  • Get started asap. The sooner you start activating those creative juices, the better. 
  • Communicate and update. Keep your clients in the know and track your progress with them. This will help you set goals and meet expectations while building more trust.

2. Solving those tunnel-vision moments

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut if all your attention is focused on one constant. Creatives need to spread their wings, explore different design alleys, escape their comfort zones and look beyond the task in front of them. It’s also easy to fall into the tunnel-vision trap if your work tends to centre around repetitively completing the same type of tasks.

At Pepperplane we work on a lot of branding and website design. It’s an ongoing practice to consciously make every project and every design piece 100% unique. Avoid becoming a cookie-cutter designer that defaults to applying the latest trends to every design. Create your own trends!

Our tips:

  • Spread your wings. Look beyond the problem at hand as much as you can. Turn the page around and create other paths to solve the problem. There are loads of different streets and routes to get to the candy shop. 
  • Find your design edge. Avoid getting stuck on generic solutions, dig a bit deeper to find that unique design edge. Creating your own solutions will ensure your project is one-of-a-kind.
  • Carve your own design path. Create your own style and trends. That’s the fun part!

3. Doing thorough research

Taking the next step can be risky and frightening if you have no idea what you’re about to step into. Getting started on a project without knowing where the end is or how to achieve the goal can lead to an instant creativity block. Research and planning are the best ways to side-step this predicament. The more you know the more ammunition you have to fight the problem and find the solution. Knowledge is key. 

Our tips:

  • Get searching. Investigate what and whom you are designing for. Gather as much information on the subject, client, and problem as possible. 
  • Get exploring. Try different research methods:
    • Have interviews and discussions with the target audience.
    • Set up questionnaires.
    • Create product mockups and test them with the end users. 
  • Facts and figures. Collect and showcase the data to support your work. There’s nothing as valuable and solid as numbers and statistics. 
  • Plot the way forward. Make connections between your gathered information to start building and planning the best route towards the design solution.  

Finding creative inspiration

The internet is a wonderful platform with endless possibilities and magical probabilities, the key is to make use of it wisely. The outcome of a quick Google image search usually showcases the most clichéd and overused results. It’s easy to simply imitate a style or layout when under pressure. Don’t be caught in the copy/paste trap, maintain the practice to make each design piece 100% unique. 

Our tips:

  • Look around. Find an alternative source of inspiration. Grab that pen and paper and head out to a new environment. New surroundings can do wonders to spark fresh design ideas.
  • Sketch away. Step away from the screen for a while and draw hundreds of small, quick sketches or layouts. Once you think you have a winner, make 50 more sketches.
  • Sleep on it. It’s the best way to give your thinking some space and switch your brain into that creative gear the next day.

In closing

Creative blocks can be overcome. Try not to get too bogged down and stressed about them as that tends to make them last longer. Take a break, come back to the problem with a fresh mindset and you’ll soon find your flow.

Get in touch with your creative wing