Archive for the ‘Other Design Articles’ Category

Article: http://www.artofthetitle.com/2010/06/14/the-pacific/

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrbEmTRhBAI


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view source: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/09/the-difference-between-art-and-design/

The subject of what separates art and design is convoluted and has been debated for a long time.

Artists and designers both create visual compositions using a shared knowledge base, but their reasons for doing so are entirely different.

Some designers consider themselves artists, but few artists consider themselves designers.

So what exactly is the difference between art and design? In this post, we’ll examine and compare some of the core principles of each craft.

This is a subject that people have strong opinions about, and I’m looking forward to reading the various points of view in the comments.

This post isn’t a definitive guide, but rather the starting point for a conversation, so let’s be open-minded!

Good Art Inspires. Good Design Motivates.

Perhaps the most fundamental difference between art and design that we can all agree on is their purposes.

Typically, the process of creating a work of art starts with nothing, a blank canvas. A work of art stems from a view or opinion or feeling that the artist holds within him or herself.

They create the art to share that feeling with others, to allow the viewers to relate to it, learn from it or be inspired by it.

The most renowned (and successful) works of art today are those that establish the strongest emotional bond between the artist and their audience.

By contrast, when a designer sets out to create a new piece, they almost always have a fixed starting point, whether a message, an image, an idea or an action.

The designer’s job isn’t to invent something new, but to communicate something that already exists, for a purpose.

That purpose is almost always to motivate the audience to do something: buy a product, use a service, visit a location, learn certain information. The most successful designs are those that most effectively communicate their message and motivate their consumers to carry out a task.

Good Art Is Interpreted. Good Design Is Understood.

Another difference between art and design is how the messages of each are interpreted by their respective audiences.

Although an artist sets out to convey a viewpoint or emotion, that is not to say that the viewpoint or emotion has a single meaning.

Art connects with people in different ways, because it’s interpreted differently.

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has been interpreted and discussed for many years. Just why is she smiling? Scientists say it’s an illusion created by your peripheral vision. Romantics say she is in love. Skeptics say there is no reason. None of them are wrong.

Design is the very opposite. Many will say that if a design can be “interpreted” at all, it has failed in its purpose.

The fundamental purpose of design is to communicate a message and motivate the viewer to do something.

If your design communicates a message other than the one you intended, and your viewer goes and does something based on that other message, then it has not met its requirement. With a good piece of design, the designer’s exact message is understood by the viewer.

Good Art Is a Taste. Good Design Is an Opinion.

Art is judged by opinion, and opinion is governed by taste.

To a forward-thinking modern art enthusiast, Tracey Emin’s piece “My Bed”, which was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999, may be the height of artistic expression.

To a follower of more traditional art, it may be an insult to the medium. This goes back to our point about interpretation, but taste is more about people’s particular likes and dislikes rather than the message they take away from a piece.

Design has an element of taste, but the difference between good and bad design is largely a matter of opinion.

A good piece of design can still be successful without being to your taste. If it accomplishes its objective of being understood and motivates people to do something, then whether it’s good or not is a matter of opinion.

We could go on discussing this particular point, but hopefully the underlying principle is clear.

Good Art Is a Talent. Good Design Is a Skill.

What about the creator’s abilities?

More often than not, an artist has natural ability. Of course, from a young age, the artist grows up drawing, painting, sculpting and developing their abilities.

But the true value of an artist is in the talent (or natural ability) they are born with. There is some overlap here: good artists certainly have skill, but artistic skill without talent is, arguably, worthless.

Design, though, is really a skill that is taught and learned. You do not have to be a great artist to be a great designer; you just have to be able to achieve the objectives of design.

Some of the most respected designers in the world are best known for their minimalist styles. They don’t use much color or texture, but they pay great attention to size, positioning, and spacing, all of which can be learned without innate talent.

Good Art Sends a Different Message to Everyone. Good Design Sends the Same Message to Everyone.

This really falls under the second point about interpretation and understanding. But if you take only one thing away from this article, take this point.

Many designers consider themselves artists because they create something visually attractive, something they would be proud for people to hang on a wall and admire.

But a visual composition intended to accomplish a specific task or communicate a particular message, no matter how beautiful, is not art. It is a form of communication, simply a window to the message it contains.

Few artists call themselves designers because they seem to better understand the difference. Artists do not create their work to sell a product or promote a service. They create it solely as a means of self-expression, so that it can be viewed and appreciated by others. The message, if we can even call it that, is not a fact but a feeling.

What Do You Think?

Depending on how you look at it, the difference between art and design can be clear-cut or hazy. The two certainly overlap, but art is more personal, evoking strong reactions in those who connect with the subject.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Craig Elimeliah, who covered this subject in a fantastic article for AIGA, which I discovered during my research for this post.

“I do not claim to be an expert on defining what art is and what it is not, but I do know that if we look at the differences between art and design we will see a very clear line drawn between the two.

An engineer, if given the exact co-ordinates to place different colored pixels in specific places, could render a beautiful website or ad simply by following instructions; most design projects have a detailed set of instructions and most design is based on current trends and influences.

An artist, on the other hand, could never be given any specific instructions in creating a new chaotic and unique masterpiece because his emotions and soul is dictating the movement of his hands and the impulses for the usage of the medium.

No art director is going to yell at an artist for producing something completely unique because that is what makes an artist an artist and not a designer.”

Further Reading and Sources

If you would like large copies of the images used in this post, to use as desktop wallpaper or for any projects, you can download the, below.

This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan, a happy-go-lucky web designer from the UK, and owner of Lyrical Media. John loves to talk to people, so why not follow him on twitter too?

What’s your opinion? Do you think we can draw clearer distinctions between art and design? Or do you think they overlap too much to be truly different?

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view source: http://freelanceswitch.com/freelancing-essentials/how-to-decide-what-to-include-in-your-portfolio/

Remember when you graduated from school or first decided to become a freelancer?  You likely didn’t have much work to show and had to scramble to fill your portfolio.  If you now have a few years under your belt, you’ve probably started to build up quite a collection of finished pieces.

The importance of having a professional portfolio website has been discussed on FreelanceSwitch – it is essential for the modern freelancer.  But how do you decide what to include in your portfolio? If you fill your site with only your favorite work it could be focused in the wrong direction and not attract business.  If you only display giant commercial projects it may feel like a sterile presentation with no heart.  Somehow you need to show that as a freelancer you are both capable in your skills and able to produce high quality, creative results.

I suggest this 5-pronged approach for deciding what you want to include in your portfolio:

Quality of Work

The quality of a work can certainly be a subjective attribute, but there are many ways to figure out which are your best pieces.  Maybe it was a project that you spent hours laboring on and at the end you sat back, amazed at your creation.  Maybe it’s a design that has garnered you awards, been chosen for CSS showcase sites or otherwise brought you attention from your industry.  It could even just be a project that your friends, coworkers and clients say is their favorite.

Honestly, you probably know what your best work is.  Its important to put these pieces in your portfolio to show your amazing talent and to have something that you are personally very proud of.

Size of Client

Sometimes, size matters.  Having worked for a client whose name is recognizable can go a long way in impressing potential clients.  If you’ve had the opportunity to work with some companies or individuals with some serious clout, your visitors need to hear about it.

People feel assured by what they know.  Whether the company you worked with is easily recognized internationally, locally or just in your niche, dropping their name will help assure people that you know what you’re doing.  Clients are now able to think, “Well, if they can do it for your big client name, they can do it for me too.”  That’s why many creative firms give a client list on their website.  Go further than just presenting a list – show what you’ve actually done for your big clients.

Size of Project

Now, let’s say you’ve had the chance to work for a particularly famous client – does that mean you should definitely include the work in your portfolio?  Not necessarily.  If the entire project consisted of a small bookmark passed out to 20 employees during a staff meeting, it might not be as impressive as a large-scale project for a start-up company, even if no one has ever heard of the company (yet).

Bigger projects help show the range of your skills and prove that you can provide clients with complete solutions.  If a company is looking for a full identity but your website only displays logos, they might not realize you are capable of doing what they want.  Instead, show that you can offer the whole package – and maybe even design their website as well!

Age of Work

You’ve probably been to portfolio sites displaying work that looks like it was all created 10 years ago.  Upon further investigation you might find that it was all done 10 years ago.  This says to visitors (ie potential clients) “We’ve done some good work in the past, but recently we’ve done nothing worth showing off.”  Now, this could be because theyhaven’t done any good work recently, but more likely it is a lack of taking the time to update their portfolio.

Keeping your portfolio updated is vital on the web.  You need to plan time to update your site and keep it fresh.  Even if it takes a few minutes away from client work, you will reap the rewards as visitors find new information and work on your site. Ideally the longer you are a freelancer the better your work is getting and the bigger your
projects are – so that bigger and better work is especially important to show (remember the first two points?).

This goes further than just updating your own website – why not gain more exposure by getting your work out on other sites too? Submit your websites to galleries, enter your print work to competitions or post completed videos to Vimeo.  Give people plenty of opportunities to find and see your newest work.

Proximity to Your Ideal Project

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to show your ideal clients that you can do their project because you have done similar ones in the past.  If you haven’t defined your Ideal Client read these articles and take the time to do it now.  Knowing who you are targeting can go a long way in deciding what to include (and what to omit).

After you’ve figured out your Ideal Client, take it to the next level and think about your Ideal Project.  What kind of work, specifically, would you love to do for them?  (Update their brochure copy?  Implement AJAX into their website?  Redesign their business cards?)  Then make sure you have similar projects that you’ve done on your site.

If you have a lot of examples, organizing your portfolio by industry or project type can help visitors find the kind of work they are looking for too.

Following these guidelines will help you put together a portfolio that can eventually lead to that ultimate work: a giant project for a famous company in your niche that wows everyone who sees it.

What are other ways you decide what to include in your portfolio?

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What is Graphic Design?

View source article: http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm/guide-whatisgraphicdesign

What is graphic design? from AIGA Career Guide

Suppose you want to announce or sell something, amuse or persuade someone, explain a complicated system or demonstrate a process. In other words, you have a message you want to communicate. How do you “send” it? You could tell people one by one or broadcast by radio or loudspeaker. That’s verbal communication. But if you use any visual medium at all—if you make a poster; type a letter; create a business logo, a magazine ad, or an album cover; even make a computer printout—you are using a form of visual communication called graphic design.

Graphic designers work with drawn, painted, photographed, or computer-generated images (pictures), but they also design the letterforms that make up various typefaces found in movie credits and TV ads; in books, magazines, and menus; and even on computer screens. Designers create, choose, and organize these elements—typography, images, and the so-called “white space” around them—to communicate a message. Graphic design is a part of your daily life. From humble things like gum wrappers to huge things like billboards to the T-shirt you’re wearing, graphic design informs, persuades, organizes, stimulates, locates, identifies, attracts attention and provides pleasure.

Graphic design is a creative process that combines art and technology to communicate ideas. The designer works with a variety of communication tools in order to convey a message from a client to a particular audience. The main tools are image and typography.

Image-based design
Designers develop images to represent the ideas their clients want to communicate. Images can be incredibly powerful and compelling tools of communication, conveying not only information but also moods and emotions. People respond to images instinctively based on their personalities, associations, and previous experience. For example, you know that a chili pepper is hot, and this knowledge in combination with the image creates a visual pun.

In the case of image-based design, the images must carry the entire message; there are few if any words to help. These images may be photographic, painted, drawn, or graphically rendered in many different ways. Image-based design is employed when the designer determines that, in a particular case, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Type-based design
In some cases, designers rely on words to convey a message, but they use words differently from the ways writers do. To designers, what the words look like is as important as their meaning. The visual forms, whether typography (communication designed by means of the printed word) or handmade lettering, perform many communication functions. They can arrest your attention on a poster, identify the product name on a package or a truck, and present running text as the typography in a book does. Designers are experts at presenting information in a visual form in print or on film, packaging, or signs.

When you look at an “ordinary” printed page of running text, what is involved in designing such a seemingly simple page? Think about what you would do if you were asked to redesign the page. Would you change the typeface or type size? Would you divide the text into two narrower columns? What about the margins and the spacing between the paragraphs and lines? Would you indent the paragraphs or begin them with decorative lettering? What other kinds of treatment might you give the page number? Would you change the boldface terms, perhaps using italic or underlining? What other changes might you consider, and how would they affect the way the reader reacts to the content? Designers evaluate the message and the audience for type-based design in order to make these kinds of decisions.

Image and type
Designers often combine images and typography to communicate a client’s message to an audience. They explore the creative possibilities presented by words (typography) and images (photography, illustration, and fine art). It is up to the designer not only to find or create appropriate letterforms and images but also to establish the best balance between them.

Designers are the link between the client and the audience. On the one hand, a client is often too close to the message to understand various ways in which it can be presented. The audience, on the other hand, is often too broad to have any direct impact on how a communication is presented. What’s more, it is usually difficult to make the audience a part of the creative process. Unlike client and audience, graphic designers learn how to construct a message and how to present it successfully. They work with the client to understand the content and the purpose of the message. They often collaborate with market researchers and other specialists to understand the nature of the audience. Once a design concept is chosen, the designers work with illustrators and photographers as well as with typesetters and printers or other production specialists to create the final design product.

Symbols, logos and logotypes
Symbols and logos are special, highly condensed information forms or identifiers. Symbols are abstract representation of a particular idea or identity. The CBS “eye” and the active “television” are symbolic forms, which we learn to recognize as representing a particular concept or company. Logotypes are corporate identifications based on a special typographical word treatment. Some identifiers are hybrid, or combinations of symbol and logotype. In order to create these identifiers, the designer must have a clear vision of the corporation or idea to be represented and of the audience to which the message is directed.

Graphic Design: A Career Guide and Education Directory
Edited by Sharon Helmer Poggenpohl
Copyright 1993
The American Institute of Graphic Arts

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View source article: http://blog.iso50.com/2010/02/10/overcoming-creative-block/

I do not know what to write. I am sitting here staring at the screen, running sentences in my head, and turning my music on and off. Earlier I went foraging for food (in hopes of sparking some magical words), but ended up getting distracted by Arrested Development for 20 minutes. This happens just about every time I sit down to do anything. I’ll probably go play the guitar between this paragraph and the next.

Of course this is a familiar situation. Often referred to as “writer’s block”, the concept of an inspiration rut is unfortunately very familiar to every creative in any field. Sometimes ideas just don’t show up to work. Given this, we all develop strategies to combat such a scenario. Not all are foolproof, but it’s safe to say that most creative people have some battle plan for dealing with the dreaded “blank page”.

Knowing this I decided to ask some of today’s most exciting artists and creators what they do when the ideas aren’t flowing. I left the question fairly open ended and asked, What do you do to inspire your creativity when you find yourself in a rut? As expected, I was presented with an array of strategies, ranging from listening to Boards of Canada in a forest alone, to cooking up a storm (recipe provided) and waiting for the mind to clear.

What follows are 25 strategies from these creatives to spark your inspiration; hopefully you’ll find something helpful in there. I encourage you to list your favorite strategies as well in the comments. We can never have to many of these…

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.

Khoi Vinh


Khoi Vinh is the design director of NYTimes.com

Lots of reading and lots of sketching. The reading part is a long-term strategy: constantly consuming ideas, influences, details, angles, metaphors, symbols, etc. and storing them in the back of your brain so that later on — sometimes much later on — you have a rich catalog of starting points to draw upon. The sketching is a way to activate all of that background information when faced with a problem in the present: the act of drawing, of giving visual expression to many different ideas in short order helps you sort through all of those random elements and to make unexpected connections between them. The key is to sketch quickly, without getting caught up in the execution or technique, that way you stay in the realm of content, without getting bogged down in form.

Kalle Gustafsson


Kalle Gustaffson is a Swedish photographer

I try to take some time off if I feel a lack of inspiration. It’s always been the best for me and to go on vacation for a week or two to just listen and watch. I listen to music and watch people. I would say everything re-inspires me, all the things that happen around me at all the times. I need to take a step outside my work to find inspiration.



Michael C. Place (aka Build) is a British graphic design studio

The solution to a problem–

Slice and chop 2 medium onions into small pieces.
Put a medium sized pan on a medium heat with a few glugs of Olive oil.
Add the onions to the pan, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Chop finely three varieties of fresh chilli (Birds Eye, Scotch Bonnet & Green/Red).
Add the chilli’s to the pan, stir together and cook for eight minutes.
Add about 500g of extra lean Beef mince to the pan.
Stir in so that the Beef is coated and lightly browned (should take approx. 2 minutes).
Add salt and pepper.
Add Red Kidney Beans and tinned chopped Tomatoes.
Stir well.
Add a pinch of Cinnamon.
Cook on a low heat for approximately 20 mins.

Measure a cup and a half of Basmati Rice into a medium pan.
Add two and a quarter cups (the same cup you measured the Rice in) of cold water to the pan with the Rice.
Boil on a high heat until the lid rattles.
Turn down the heat to about half way and cook for eight minutes.
After eight minutes turn the heat off the rice, leave for four minutes (with the lid on).

Plate up the Rice (on the side), add the chilli.

Large glass of Red wine (preferably Australian or New Zealand).

Now the important problem solving part–
Take the plates & pans to the sink.
Run a mixture of hot and cold (not too hot) water.
Add a smidgeon of washing up liquid (preferably for sensitive skin).
Start washing up, the mundane kicks in.
The mind clears and new thoughts and ideas appear.

Enjoy a second glass of wine to savour the moment.

Mark Weaver


Mark Weaver is a designer + illustrator based in Atlanta

When I’m looking for inspiration to get the creative gears turning, I find it from a combination of sources; experimental music, mid century design/cinema, nature/wildlife, etc. To achieve full creative potential I must sit in the woods, watch Mad Men, and listen to Boards of Canada simultaneously.

Chad Hagen


Chad Hagen is a Minneapolis based artist and designer

Staying creative is hard work. Honestly, I don’t think when I got into art school I was very talented at all. I struggled to stand out. I struggled to stay in school. Staying creative was hard work. BUT, the one thing that kept me focused was my desire to be good. I wanted to be really good. I wanted to be as good as those people that WERE talented. I used to think I would eventually, if I worked hard enough, master art like a math equation and then I could relax and just make great stuff and let everything else follow. That time definitely never came, and I know now I never want it to, because the most important thing that keeps me creative is my wanting to be good. So if I’m ever in a rut, the best things to get me out of them is to put myself in places that engage that desire to be good. In a general sense this means to get out and be expose to others creating. In my opinion, there is no better way to trigger your own creativity, than to see what great things others have made or are making. Going to museums, galleries, shows, etc. always inspires my mind in a way that make me want to get back into my own work and make good things. Be good.

Jasper Goodall


Jasper Goodall is a freelance illustrator from Birmingham, England

I have a couple of things I do –

Take time away from the computer/sketchbook; visit a new city and just mooch about ( I once sat in a cafe in Berlin and had more ideas than I knew what to do with). I go to the Local University arts and design library and pour over back issues of graphic design and photography journals, snapping things that spark my imagination, then go home and print them out and stick them in a scrap book, I always have loads of ideas after this.

Kim Holtermand


Kim Holtermand is a photographer based in Denmark

Whenever I run out of ideas I often use music to put me back in the mood – music is a huge source of inspiration for my and much of my work has been created while listening to tones from artists such as Sigur Rós (alltime favorite), Hammock, Max Richter, Air, Dead Can Dance, Helios, Johann Johannsson, Jonsi and Alex, M83, Olafur Arnalds, Trentemøller and I could go on and on…

Often the melancholy of the music I listen to gets me in a certain mood and from their the ideas start coming.

Erik Spiekermann


Erik Spiekermann is a legendary German typographer

There are 6 strategies for this situation:

1. Avoid
Do something else, wash the car, back-up your data, do errands…
2. Think
Sit back and think about the issue, just let your mind go…
3. Research
Look up stuff, go through your old projects, but avoid Google — it takes too long to find anything useful…
4. Collect
We all have lots of stuff; there must be something in there that is waiting to be used…
5. Sketch
Drawing is great, even if you have no talent. Just visualising the simplest things makes them come alive…
6. Deconstruct
Take the problem apart, look at the parts and then put them back together…

Si Scott


Si Scott is a British graphic designer and illustrator

Generally speaking, I seem to get a block quite often (as I”m guessing most creatives do?). I’ve found the only way to get through it, is to just keep working and getting ideas down no matter how insignificant they may seem. Hitting a brick wall and trying to get over it can be the hardest and most frustrating thing in the world! Most of my inspiration comes from lyrics / books etc… so reading and listening to music seems to work quite well for me – the words will spark something for me to build on and give me a small thought to explore and see where it takes me.

Chuck Anderson


Chuck Anderson is a designer/artist based in Michigan

The first and best thing to do for me is to stop trying to force it and step away for a bit. The importance of taking a break can’t be stressed enough. Then usually I find a lot of inspiration in bookstores. It’s really one of my favorite pastimes and one of the best ways I relax. A stack of books & magazines and some coffee. Sometimes I’ll bring my computer but most of the time its a good chance to get away from a screen and flip through pages and just read, look, and absorb a lot of great stuff. Art books & magazines, music, culture, design, sports, tattoos…the things I enjoy the most. I load up on that stuff and that almost always helps me through.

Deth P. Sun


Deth P. Sun is painter/illustrator based in Berkeley, California

I don’t really get into ruts that often. When I do I just take a break from drawing and do whatever I feel like until I feel like drawing again. I try not getting into ruts by keeping my mind active with new interest or subjects, reading, watching DVDs, finding interesting podcasts. It’s also nice to hang out with friends who have other interests. I think the well of stuff I’m into is pretty low, so a lot of the things I draw about is stuff my friends talk about and the things they are interested in. Like I’m not drawn into Native Americanism, horror films, talking to the undead, or the magical healing powers of crystals, but I end up drawing that stuff cause my friends talk about it so much. But yeah, I don’t know. It different for everyone, but this is the way I do it.

Ji Lee


Ji Lee is the creative director of Google Creative Labs

I don’t do anything in purpose to inspire my creativity. There is no special formula or methodology. There are many things I can think of which may contribute to my creativity, such as constantly being curious and being observant of everything. But the biggest inspiration for creativity for me are the PROBLEMS. When I face a problem, I start thinking about possible solutions and that’s when I become creative.



Designunit is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Denmark

Here in our studio we are only two creatives who works very close. We use a lot of freelancers but they are not part of the creative process. We try to be inspired all the time and then we archive all of our inspiration, so that we always have something to look at to be inspired. It can be things we see on the street (and take photo of it – of course), in books, magazines, fashion shows, movies, blogs and so on.. So when we start a new project we start by talking about how we see the case and then we look through our inspirations and make moodboards. When we have the visual part set we start the layout process.

Mike Perry


Mike Perry is Brooklyn based illustrator, artist, and designer

Lately the thing that has been really good when I am in a rut is to take the Amtrak somewhere. I unfortunately don’t do it as often as I would like but I love the forced sitting that happens and unlike air travel the seats are very comfortable. My grandfather would drive to Alaska every year and write novels while driving (dangerous I know) but I think the train travel is similar. There is something about moving through world that makes you feel alive. That said, this is not something that is easy to do. So the rest of the time I really just power through the work. If I am feeling uninspired I just accept that I am going to make some mistakes and really just work through the process.



MINE (Christopher Simmons) is a San Francisco based graphic design studio

To me there are three factors that contribute to creative block: One, believing you’re stuck. Two, knowing you’re stuck but not knowing how to get out. And three, knowing you’re stuck and knowing how to get out, but doubting your ability to do it. Here are my solutions, respectively:

1. I ask myself, am I really stuck? Sometimes we think we’re stuck or we want to think we’re stuck but we’re actually on track and just don’t know it. Some paths are inevitable. Remember, a rut is also a groove.

2. I do nothing. Being stuck is usually a matter of not seeing the problem clearly. The best medicine for that is perspective. I measure perspective in units of time and distance. Getting a away from a problem helps give me better view of it. Instead of flailing away I’ll do something unrelated — like go to a museum or watch a movie. Inevitably, something in that other experience presents itself as the answer to the problem I’m trying to ignore.

3. I become awesome. Sometimes I’m faced with a problem to which I know the solution, but executing on it just seems too hard. One trick I use to get over that feeling is to work on other, easier tasks. They don’t have to be related — finally touching up that paint above the office light switch, finishing a blog post, organizing the garage are all fine examples. Taking on a bunch of little things that I can do quickly (and well) puts me in the mindset of being able to accomplish things. Then when I come back to that insurmountable problem it’s just the next task to check off the list. No more anxiety.



Airside is a multidisciplinary creative agency based in the UK


Set your bedside alarm for 5am. When it goes off either get up and enjoy the unique feel of that time of day or go back to sleep and have the craziest dreams (REM sleep is easier to reach/remember) – one of these experiences will give you inspiration.

Don’t all sit in a meeting and somehow expect that something will pop into your collective conscious. Don’t read the design press, don’t go to google images or youtube. Don’t force it – get out of the studio. Go to the theatre, go to gigs, go to museums, take time off work, go for a walk, stop looking at your computer, turn off your mobile and the tv, Have a chat with your mates about something meaningful.

Diversify your interests. The broader your interests and your absorption of culture the more relevant your designs become for your clients. Put yourself in your clients place and try to imagine how they will receive your thinking. Throw up lots of ideas, exchange opinions with your colleagues, road test your thinking with them, think around the subject, look at it from all angles then apply relentless rigour in creating your design. OR not. Go with your gut instinct because you are so bored of laborious over-worked responses it takes all the joy out of life and you can’t remember why you started in the creative industries if everything is designed by committee and compromise. Draw a lot just for the sake of it. Ignore style. Have the courage of your convictions provided you are extremely talented, if not, listen. Listen in any case.

dress code


dress code (Andre Andreev and Dan Covert) is a design studio based in NYC

D: During the micro day to day stuff if I am in a creative rut I surf the web, go for a walk, check out a movie, shop for books, go to a museum or do other largely cliche things to fill up my brain with inspiration. Sometimes though I get sick of looking to other sources and try to clear my head by just getting out of the office and ideas come when I least expect them.

A: When it comes to daily creativity, I try to break down all of my tasks in a rough schedule everyday. I work on projects from 2-3 hour chunks at a time. I do not spend an entire day on one project alone unless its absolutely necessary. I turn off email and IM or check it every hour on the hour. Breaking down time helps me because when I have 2 hours to complete a task I’m solely focused on elements or details that might otherwise been overlooked. I think it makes me more creative because I look forward the next time I will get to work on a project and forces me to take some time off and think about what I will do next time. The schedule also helps me shift gears between different mediums. Multi-tasking doesn’t work for me, I can’t be having an IM conversation while writing a contract while talking to an intern while waiting for an email while trying to design something too. Getting rid of those small distractions and focusing on a single project helps.

D: The way our studio is set up though we try to have some overlap in who works on what, so there isn’t a ton of pressure on any one person to carry all of the creative weight, which can be kind of daunting and lets us be a bit more free with things.

D: But for the larger macro in a rut stuff we try to keep moving our business in new directions so we can stay happy creatively. To do self initiated work that balances out the day to day client stuff but in the end comes back and informs it.

A: On a macro scale, creativity comes and goes for me. I can’t predict when I will be excited about a project. I just try to be happy in my personal life which in turn makes me productive at work. And being productive at work also makes me happy in my personal life. So I try to do as many things that make me happy: playing soccer, reading books, playing video games, hanging with my lady, getting drunk, whatever I’m in the mood for. I find it tough to be creative when I’m worried or angry at something.

D: Also we work a lot of different mediums which helps keep things fresh, since one day we can be doing motion and the next a tee shirt or a branding project.

D: Teaching helps too because it exposes us to up and coming talent and fresh ideas every week. We are learning from them just as much as they are from us.

almost Modern


almost Modern is a graphic studio in Rotterdam

We are a graphic designer and an artist. This combination is very dynamic, meaning that the way we approach our profession is not from one side, but constantly two perspectives staring at one problem. Sort of a build in dialectic way of behaving — although not always — our working methods are contradicting. Maybe the dynamic is developed more because our professional backgrounds are contradicting. Contradicting in the sense of applied versus autonomous. We experience this as a very productive way of working because this is a lively combination. It’s also progressive and therefore we almost never find ourselves in a situation were we are standing still or have no clue what to do.

Besides our work method being dynamic we also love to create work of our own. To keep our focus clear and to grasp our working method even better. So we keep ourselves busy to keep the progression going.



Atmostheory (Christopher David Ryan) is a design studio based in Maine

I often find myself in a creative rut of some sort. It’s not so much that I can’t engage with my creativity. It’s that sometimes nothing I come up with speaks to me or feels special. For as long as I can remember I have been able to just sit and let my creative juices flow… but that doesn’t mean that the juice is always sweet.

When I find myself in these situations I notice that the more I push myself to get results the more I tend to come up short. Regardless, I have several weapons in my rut fighting arsenal; walks, conversations, drawing, reading, records, magazines, vintage shopping, window shopping, digging in old sketchbooks, staring off into space, yoga, TV, red wine, scotch, weed, etc, etc, etc. I definitely try to avoid trolling the web in search of inspiration. It seems to easy and it has been come to commonplace in my opinion.

At the end of the day, most of what I feel are my strongest ideas just hit me when I least expect it… When I’m bed, the shower, on the subway, or a meeting or something. When I am not focused on the quest for ideas. It’s like all the energy I release looking for them causes a cloud to build around me that has to clear before then can get to me.

Kevin Dart


Kevin Dart is freelance illustrator based in Los Angeles

I’ve got loads of tricks for getting out of creative ruts, like scouring the net for cool photo reference, going through old drawings, finding some new music to listen to, or getting out and drawing at a different location like the coffee shop. But what always works the best for me is talking with my friends. They always have some new way of looking at problems that I never would have thought of, or a cool bit of inspiring artwork to show me, or just some words of encouragement that will get me moving again!

Invisible Creature


Invisible Creature is a design and illustration studio from Seattle, WA.

Flee. It’s a simple word with a zillion possible outcomes. In short, we leave. Where we end up each time varies: A bookstore, coffee shop, antique store, movie house, park, forest, river bank or maybe just our living room. The goal is always the same – to see or feel – something that inspires. It doesn’t need to be something new or fresh … but something that makes us want to get back to our pen, pencil, mouse or Wacom tablet with a new, clear perspective. We actually hold project meetings at our local coffee joint instead of work – as they always seem to produce better ideas/results.

In general, these fresh (out of the office) reflective moments – whether they be full days, half days or even a brief few minutes – can be very fulfilling. In fact, we’ve started scheduling them into our regular work days each month – something we should have done long ago.

National Forest


National Forest is a creative think-tank from California

I go on a long run, bike ride, walk with the dog; Anything but work on the project. Good ideas are stored in fat so if I burn some off I can free them up and use em. The worst thing to do is stress out and try and do everything at once. I’ll have my phone with my and text myself ideas once they pop in my head. – Justin Krietemeyer

Whenever I need inspiration I get up and step away from my computer. I find that starring at an image, or even worse a blank canvas, can become very frustrating after a while. I like to take a walk or run outside and look at everything around me. I tend to find solutions to difficult problems when I’m not thinking too hard about it. I find interesting patterns and imagery just looking around and observing everything, like an ice cream truck driving by or the concrete I am running on. And usually when I have not thought about the project for a little while I come up with a new idea. – Tess Donohoe

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