Having said that, I am only speaking from previous experience as a freelance designer and art director, but the importance of some external stimulation to get the creative juices flowing applies to any creative.
Yes, there are wonderfully inspiring examples of work by our peers around the globe, all available online. It’s always good to get an idea of what is going on in other studios and it can even serve to raise your game, but when you’re at the start of a new project, inspiration can prove to be elusive.
Get your first thoughts down
I find that sometimes initial design or concept thoughts pop up in the first few hours of sitting down, so get them down straight away, don’t put it off. The briefing stage, the product or a discussion has been stimulating enough for you to scramble to get your thoughts down, but there are those times when you’ll be left with ideas that aren’t quite working, and lie unresolved just under the surface, long after you’ve left your desk.
Leave your screen behind
So, leave the desk earlier and free up your mind space. Try looking at other, less obvious sources to trigger some new ways of thinking. Watch the news, chat with a friend, visit a client, to an art gallery or show but most of all, get out. Even with Covid-19 restricting our movements, you can leave the environment you’re in and go and walk the streets/mall/countryside for a while and look around you. Not with a particular intent or idea in mind, but just to let what you see wash over you.
It’s often by hitting this mental ‘refresh’ button that we can get ideas to take a new direction, get some inspiration, or get you starting to think more clearly about how an idea can work.
Keep a notebook with you always
It’s often when we’re doing something entirely unrelated that ideas pop into your head so to make sure you’ve got something to jot it down on to explore in full later on. Keep a notebook next to your bed as well. Your mind is usually working even when you’re asleep and it’s frustrating to be woken up by a great idea, only to lose it because you haven’t got anywhere to write it down.
With all the digital tools available to us, we can get into the habit of relying on our screens for our entire stimulus, but that can create a bit of a vacuum in which it is difficult to get ideas to go further after a certain point. It may not work for everyone, but my advice is, if you’re hitting a creative brick wall, take a walk.