Category Archives: creativity & design

What Stifles Creativity

There are a million and one things conspiring to undermine your workflow on any given day.

Be vigilant. There are forces at work in the world around you: at home, during your commute, in the office, on this very screen you’re staring into right now —all diligently plotting to steal your creative energy and rob you of your best ideas.

Eventually the astute creative practitioner will devise clever ways to counteract the insidious idea-thwarting noise that destroys one’s ability to enter what John Cleese calls the creative open mode.

Work remotely the odd day each week if you can. Work in your pyjamas and slippers, if it helps you focus.

Stop dwelling on negative thoughts. Be gone!

Colleagues who feel compelled to gripe about so-and-so not pulling their weight or client/project so-and-so not living up to their expectations because it’s going through double-digit rounds of revisions. Hey, these things can get the best of us. But don’t let it. Suck it up buttercup. Welcome to the wonderful world of work. If you let every little thing get to you each day, read too deeply into every email or text message you receive (hey, you’re gonna get millions over the course of your life), eventually you’ll get an ulcer or some unpronounceable medical ailment that will effectively stomp your ability to do anything productive or worthwhile from this day forth.

Go smoke a cigarette (if you have to), put your headphones on, close your eyes and visualize what you want to accomplish. Now open your eyes and get down to work. Crush all subsequent distractions in your path.

It’s fascinating to think as we age we invariably begin to fixate on our various physical ailments, “oh my back’s been acting up lately”, “I’ve got this burning, itching sensation around my ankles”. You know, those awkward conversations, usually with someone your senior, perhaps an elderly uncle or grandparent. It seems every time you talk the first thing out of their mouth is “Oh I’ve got this pain in my -unmentionable- area”. And then you learn they’re taking copious amounts of prescription drugs, eating primarily processed foods with little or no nutritional value, completely abstaining from any and all forms of physical exertion. And they wonder why their body (and mind) are slowly withering away.

This is actually a really awful post. I’m not sure what the point is I’m trying to make or where this is going. I seem to be going off on a tangent.
Just thinking again about how my laptop broke down last week makes my blood boil. It’s just a stupid machine. I’m healthy and alive and so are my family and friends. That’s really all that matters.

I’d much rather be thinking about my creative zen-space right now.

This Never Gets Old

I was in the proverbial ‘zone’ last Thursday night. It felt fantastic, working late on a design concept for an upcoming project and getting completely immersed in the mechanics of the creative. This never gets old. I love taking ideas from rough ideation sketch to full-blown colour comp, then building a story around the visual elements.

What’s late you ask? I was up past 2am —probably closer to 2:30am, though who’s counting minutes. I had lots of ideas circulating my mind’s eye for well over a week, in fact many more than I could ever hope to expand upon for this particular project. I kept reminding myself that I’d promised to have something concrete to show and discuss Friday morning. Yeah, deadlines are a necessary evil. Setting a date to share something with colleagues or a client, in my case, usually serves as the catalyst for buckling-down and getting the work done.

At some point, usually the last possible moment prior to the presentation deadline, I’ll commit to a direction or idea, usually by wading through a pile of sketches, reference images, and notes scattered in the half dozen or so sketchbooks and random scrap pieces of paper littering my desk area. This process tends to feel like the last set of an intense workout. It’s a whittling down of thoughts, from many fleeting ideas down to several hooks that warrant further exploration and development. Then yet again down to one (or two) gems that are worthy of presentation to the client.

That feeling, having created something out of nothing, something I’m excited to share with a client, something that creatively aligns with the client’s business or marketing objectives, gives me goosebumps time and time again.

This never gets old.


Working late - Vida Dimovska

Three years ago I wrote about how I thought staying up late was a great way to channel inspiration and get things done—not necessarily from a quantity perspective, but rather quality. I still feel this way, though nothing against early risers.

I’ve always been more of a night owl and less of a morning person I suppose, so working well into the late evening hours has always been more or less of a routine.
Evenings tend to be quiet with fewer email, Skype, phone or text message interruptions causing a break in concentration.

Today I’m reading an interesting article that says apparently 50% of a person’s morningness or eveningness is dictated by genetic factors, based on new academic research. So whether you like it or not, your mind and body are probably hard-wired for one or the other.
Knowing this (whether you’re going to be more productive in the morning or in the evening) can help you to find your natural rhythm and invite more creativity into your workflow.

On that note, don’t put off today what you might be less inclined to get done tomorrow.

image: Vida Dimovska