Thoughts on Creativity and Design Process

I will start this post off by saying that everybody is creative and for some that might come as a surprise, but I believe in the idea of creativity as a means of solving problems; the easiest and most efficient way possible. When I say easy I'm referring to the timeframe that it takes to complete the task, and efficient to how well received the work is from the target audience. But the question is what to do when we cannot come up with any good idea or the so terrified creative block.

The creative process is something unique because it’s personal, we cannot teach someone how to come up with ideas but we can learn how to organize our thoughts in order to make our ideas easier to achieve in the form of a good design. At least in my opinion and let me explain why.

Overflow of Inspiration

We are bombarded with information all day long and even when we are sleeping we might dream and have ideas and therefore inspiration. That is good in terms of having lots of resources available but it’s really bad as well because with that amount of information it’s pretty hard to make a decision.

That’s why I believe that our decisions have to be made with goals in mind and these goals alongside with a clear idea of our target audience will help us filter this avalanche of ideas and inspiration.

...designers give form to products, interiors, and visual communications, and satisfy the functional, psychological, and aesthetic needs of users...

Create Constraints

In order to overcome this problem it’s really important to define some constraints. If we have too much freedom again it’s hard to make a decision because it tends to fall to our personal opinion and we can't rely that everybody will like the same things we do.

The book Making Ideas Happen covers this topic really well saying that in a specific research with designers, they were much more productive when they had more constraints in a project than those who had more freedom.

My suggestion to creating these constraints is to fall back to the importance of having a good design briefing before starting any sketch or firing up the computer. Talk with the client, try to understand exactly what you have to do and for whom you will do it. That is key.

Thoughts on Creativity and Design Process
Before starting anything I asked all questions I had and defined the constraints, that made the whole process a lot easier

Try, try and try some more

I've already said this in some speeches I gave, but it’s true. The only way to come up with something cool is by trying, testing, and evolving ideas. If you just wonder and never do, you will have nothing to evolve upon. It’s like the fear of the blank page. Once you start adding things to it, it's not that complicated anymore…it’s all about playing with the elements, right? Or like the inertia principle, once we get the object moving it’s hard to stop.

When I was in college I had an amazing professor and he used to make us sketch at least 150 variations for a logo project, he used to say that the first ideas we have are always based on something we saw and it’s already known and popular, that’s why we did it. Only after we run out of ideas is when we will start innovating.

Thoughts on Creativity and Design Process


I tend to think that the next idea will always be better, which in reality most of the times is and that’s why I had so many projects that were never finished. As I mentioned in the last post we have external factors that might make us unsure and insecure of our ideas.

Now, I believe that we have to think of design as an evolving process that means once we have an idea and have gone through the creative process with the right constraints and we know that we did our best we must deliver.

Once we deliver we can start thinking on improving upon it. Seth Godin mentions that he is successful because he delivers more while other people keep postponing the delivering in order to finish a master piece which might never happen. He also talks about the last minute questions before delivering what he calls the Lizard Brain calling.

Amazing talk about delivering by Seth Godin

You don't need to be more creative, all of you are too creative.... what you need is a quiter lizard brain... - Seth Godin"

Creating something is always exciting, and having ideas is super easy that is why I am sure that everybody is extremely creative. Now the secret of success is making these ideas come true.

The most comforting thing is that we start a project with at least 50% chance to succeed without even doing anything. Now try to imagine if we give it our best, how much that percentage would chance in our favor.

Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.