Creative Blocks – Tips to Help Break Through

Mitchell Wagner – Art Director – IRONCLAD Marketing

Mitchell Wagner

As you may or may not have noticed, I have been a bit sporadic lately with blogs. Writer’s block is probably one of the biggest contributors to this. I try to blame it on the fact that I am not a writer. However, even in design there are creative blocks we must overcome. So, I figured a solution to the issue might be to write a blog about it, in hopes of breaking the cycle. The answer of how to deal with blocks will differ from person-to-person, but I think there are some general, all-encompassing strategies we can all try. Below I have outlined some of the ways I deal with it.

First, I’ll typically start by looking at design magazines and/or industry magazines to see what others are doing. Keeping a resource file of good ads, direct mail samples, literature, etc. can be very helpful. When you run into a block, pull out a few samples and take an element or two from each to base an idea.

A change of scenery is also usually a good way to spark the creativity. I like to frequent Fleet Farm, antique stores and scrap yards – just to name a few. The
inspiration could come from anything, so have a camera and/or sketchbook close at hand.

Participating in activities that you love can also be a huge help. A bike ride, walk, or hunting or fishing outing gives you plenty of time to think, and even the smallest thing can give you that solid gold idea. I know our own Lindsay likes to go for a run to clear her head – pure insanity if you ask me, but whatever works I guess.

And as we all know, the best ideas always come at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Be ready – keep a pen and paper handy. Even though you might think you’ll remember the great idea in the morning, you won’t. So write it down or sketch it out. I know it can be terribly difficult to turn on a light and ruin the sleep cycle, but you’ll be glad you did. Try practicing locating and writing in the dark. Yes, it looks like a first grader did it, but as long as you can read it the next day, you’re good.

Get an outsider’s perspective, whether it be someone outside the industry or outside the creative field. It may take some extra explanation, but we often get too close to a project or idea to objectively look at it.

Do you use any of these strategies to overcome creative blocks? How about any other ideas or unique solutions? Share them with us – who knows, one just might come in handy the next time we’re “stuck” on a project!