Get Your Creativity Running Again!

It’s estimated that Pablo Picasso created over 50,000 paintings.  50,000. 50,000.  Should I write it out one more time? He was someone with a unique perspective that transformed the art world, but it was mostly his passion to create that probably fueled all the ideas he had.  By no means did he stay in one genre, but in fact created new movements like Cubism.  Clearly he had the perseverance to push through even when he probably reached creative slumps.

I don’t know for a fact if Picasso had a creative slump, but I can assume that some of his paintings were probably failures (maybe even just to himself).  {As someone who started painting at the age of 8, I can tell you that even as a child I would reach points where I became frustrated at how my paintings looked like.}  I reached a creative slump .

Every day our team is tasked with creating a plethora of things. Anything from postcards to sermon slides, to websites, coffee bags, and logos. Sometimes as a designer I hit a wall, I reach a creative slump (the equivalent of a writer’s block, except maybe for a short period of time). Granted we have a very collaborative approach so a team member can easily take over the project and finish it out so that our client gets the best possible design.  

So what’s important about this post.  After years of being a creative, I have learned (and continue) to learn about myself and the way my brain works, especially when I reach a point where I just need to stop.  Here are a couple of useful tips to re-charge your creativity:

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Small changes for quick results in the workplace:

  1. Disconnect: Take a break.  Easy, stop what you are doing.  If you’re a free-lancer and are paid by the hour, close your computer for 5 minutes, get up and get a glass of water or walk around.  If your work is mobile and your office is  at a coffee shop, ask someone next to you how their day is going. Sometimes it’s a matter of our eyes taking a break.
  2. Switch the tunes. (This one may not apply to you if you like to work in silence.) I’ve gotten used to working with music in the background, I have certain playlists and music styles that help me become more productive.  Sometimes I don’t realize how I may have listened to the same playlist over and over again, it might be time to switch.  
  3. Check out other artists. Usually, in a design project, painting, etc. you have an initial inspiration board. You normally do your research in the front end, but sometimes it helps to see what others are doing as you get stuck on a project.  Some of my personal favorites are looking at Jeff Rogers and Dana Tanamachi’s work.  Yes, I’ve seen multiple times in the past, but when I look at their work again I usually  see something new.

New Perspective for long-term benefits:

  1. Change the pace:
    1. Be active.  We were made to be people in motion.  Originally we were nomads, but throughout time, our occupations have become more sedentary.  Still, we have bodies that were made for movement, and they should be taken care of as your brain doesn’t work on its own.  Being active helps release stress,Try going for a walk, or a class at the gym.  Maybe running is for you.
    2. What would happen if you added a physical activity to your daily routine?  I would suspect that your brain would take a break from thinking all the time and it would help you become more productive on a daily basis.
  2. Change the Scenery:
    1. Go outside: Time and time again, I have realized how one of my major sources of inspiration comes from being outside.  I know for a fact, that every time I got to the beach or somewhere near a waterfall I will have thousands of ideas.   Here in Nashville, we are fortunate to have several parks within the city that make you feel like you’ve gone out to the mountains.  
    2. Visit with a friend: Try going to a park after a long day of work.  You might be tired & you probably reached that road block, but try going outside. The green of the trees, or looking at the sky could inspire you.  What if you see a mom and her son playing? Would that inspire you?
    3. Try taking a day trip or weekend trip somewhere new, many times connecting with nature in a way that you haven’t experienced it can change your perspective.
  3. Go somewhere you haven’t been before:
    1. Travel to a new place: Try taking a day trip or weekend trip somewhere new, many times connecting with nature in a way that you haven’t experienced it can change your perspective.
    2. Explore your city: Go somewhere you haven’t been before. Pretend you’re a tourist in a new city. Yes, you might look foolish, but beauty lies where the eye hasn’t focused.   A couple of weeks ago I discovered the Frist Museum here in Nashville.  I happened to go on a night where they had a great exhibition of the 2nd largest private collection of art “The House of Alba” and a great showcasing of Soviet photography during Russia’s transformation to a communist country.   Maybe go to a new restaurant, try looking at the new food your tasting in a new way.  What colors does it have? What does it taste like? How does it make you feel?   What about going to a concert or the flea market.  Go to the farmer’s market, notice colors, people, etc.

Usually, something you naturally enjoy helps, as well as changing either physical location or pace.  As you try out new things, you’ll learn about yourself and find out what is most effective to transform a block into an opportunity to create something even greater and more beautiful.  

We were made to be creative people, we were made by the ultimate creator.  Essentially all these steps should lead you to a place where you connect with the truest version of creativity that stems from God.  As humans, risk of failure is part of the creative process, but having the perseverance to push through a mental block can create beautiful results.

Have you tried any of these steps in the past?  What has been most effective for you?

PS: Some of these steps can be found on other blogs, but mostly these are general things over time that have proven to be effective for me and other teammates. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you want to keep on ready here’s a post we are loving at 99u.com about improving your attention focus.

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