Lost Inspiration. Offering Reward.

Whether you’re a graphic designer, a web designer, a blogger or another job that implies being creative, you have to admit that sometimes in your career you found yourself in a situation when you didn’t know what to do. That is commonly known as a “creative block”.

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Source: sxc.hu

I admit that I had a couple of creative blocks. I noticed that most of them had something to do with my state of mind in that moment. I learned that it’s important to let all your personal problems at the door when you go to your office in the morning. And if you are a freelancer and you’re working from home, you need to find the power to detach from all the stuff that’s troubling you that day.

When I’m struggling with a block, I most often turn to my wonderful colleagues and we have a brainstorming session. Together, we always come up with some interesting ideas. It’s all about the power of being a part of a team.

A couple of days ago, I was chatting with my fellow colleagues and we approached this subject. I wanted to know if they were ever in the situation of having a “creative block”. First they laughed, saying that they never have blocks, but after I gave them a raised eyebrow, things got serious. They admitted that it happens, but they always overcome it.

Obviously, I was curious to know how they handled those situations. Here’s what they said:

  • if you find yourself blocked on a project and you can’t seem to find inspiration anywhere, just start working for a few hours on something else. In a couple of hours you can pick up from where you left it and give it another try.
  • it’s alright to look for inspiration, as long as you don’t copy. There are a couple of great inspiration galleries out there and it always helps to see how others do it.

Source: sxc.hu

  • it’s very important to know what you want to do. Just take a few minutes and think in perspective. An illustration, for example, always turns out better if you think of its’ concept in advance.

Source: sxc.hu

  • if the block is seriously killing your work and you can’t get rid of it for a long period of time (if it lasts for more than a couple of days, a week or even more), just take a couple of days off and do something you like. Sometimes, if you work for weeks or months without any breaks, the stress and fatigue accumulates and it affects your working process.
  • call in all your coworkers or friends for a brainstorming session. Even if they are not working in the same field as you, they might come up with some great ideas. You can pick an idea from each person and outline an idea of your own.

Source: sxc.hu

  • music can help. Put your headphones on and play your favorite music, this might get you in the right mood to create.
  • to help prevent creative blocks,  plan ahead. Planning is very important, you should put down on paper, at the beginning of each month, what you have to do. Mention numbers and deadlines. For example: I must do 200 vector illustrations by the end of 15th.


I know that there are A LOT of ideas on how to overcome creative blocks on the Internet, but I’m curious:

How do YOU overcome creative blocks?


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14 Comments Lost Inspiration. Offering Reward.

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  2. Sally Hughes Doherty Apr 9, 2011 at 10:50


    Meditation can seem difficult if you have never tried before. It can be infuriating trying NOT to think about all those annoying, trivial or stressful things that float across your mind when trying to clear it.

    The trick it to NOT judge yourself. Recognize the thought that just floated across your brain, and without judgement or frustration come back to focusing on your breath. Sometimes I just focus on the end of my nose…really try to feel the end of my nose. Seriously, it works.

    When I start my meditation I ask myself the question…what direction should this design go? Then I meditate, and let go, and when I am done I refocus back on my work and almost always a clear direction just flows.

    Try it! It works for so many areas of your life, but I use it especially to feed my creativity!

    1. Adriana Apr 12, 2011 at 00:50

      Hi Sally! I tried to focus on the end of my nose, but I think I didn’t succeed :) I agree with you that meditation can help and that we need to put beside all the frustration of every day problems – although sometimes it’s not as easy at it seems. I will certainly look into this meditation subject and give it a try :)
      Thank you for your insight comment.

      1. Sally Apr 12, 2011 at 03:32

        Meditation can take a while to master….I gave up dozens of times before I really got to the place where I was really meditation. However, the benefits are amazing and worth it!

        Thanks for all your great posts Adriana!

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  4. Daniel Cohen Apr 11, 2011 at 06:13

    Lost inspiration *sometimes* ? ?? ???
    Hey! You can’t be a superman all the time, you’ve got to know that your energy will come and go. Like the tide.
    The trick is to realize this, and work with it.

    You’ve got lots of things to do that are pretty boring — like spell-checking your files, or washing the walls. Do it!
    Or if you really don’t want to do anything today, then don’t. I sometimes like to look out my window for an hour or so. Then I’ll pull some weeds from my lawn.
    Eventually, like the tide, the energy comes back, and I’m designing again.

    When I’m working on a major project, this can happen over and over again. Using my “tides” strategy, I deliver innovation and great features, as well as quality on all that routine stuff.

    1. Adriana Apr 12, 2011 at 00:45

      Hey Daniel, your post made me smile. :) I know that I can’t be at my best all the time (although I try) and I need to take a break sometimes and let the creative flow come back. I can’t think of boring stuff to do at work, but if I was working from home, I would probably go outside and enjoy the nature.
      Thank you for your inspiring comment :)

  5. Will Apr 11, 2011 at 23:29

    Look around!

    I always try and find something else to focus on. Find inspiration in nature or even the walls of your house.

    Have you ever examined the patterns in your house before? I know it sounds strange, but the wall you walk past every day has a multitude of patterns on it that you never realised about. Take a look at it and you’ll find there’s millions of things that you never noticed about the space around you. Eventually something in your head will spark and you think “wow, this would really look cool if I maginfied it a couple of times and used it as an overlay for this and that”

    That just leads to more and more idea’s and eventually “unblocks” your creative juices.

    I also look around the internet. PatternTap is great! I use it all the time for inspiration. Just remember. Dont copy it! Look at a couple of things, get some ideas and then close the page before you start designing anything. Your mind and ingenuity will fill in the missing bits of info you couldn’t remember of all the idea’s and you will create something unique.

    1. Adriana Apr 12, 2011 at 00:40

      Will, I agree with you, we can find inspiration in everything around us, we just have to “see” it. I was in the bus today in a traffic jam and my eyes stopped on the deteriorated wall of a building. I thought: this wall could be a great texture to use in an illustration!

      Thank you for your comment :)

  6. Carol Gonzales Apr 27, 2011 at 16:57

    Since the year 2000 I’ve worked every day an avg. of 15/hrs day – I’ve waited my whole life to do this, so that’s likely why (throw in a “little” OCD). I don’t seem to ever run out of ideas – I love to inspire people that are “afraid of making a mistake” –

    I do Fine Art, but while I was working on my art degree, in my spare time I’d check out 14 bks (all I could carry) from the library, turn to the 1st page I saw that I liked, with a stack of xerox paper I drew EVERYTHING I could possibly glean from that original inspiration. My reward was “alright, now I get to turn the page and start again!”

    I produced 4000 designs in this way, and finished 2000 of them. The only way I stop, or get stuck on a project usually is because something hurts physically, then I’ll switch to another project/even when I’m sick/Christmas/B’Day… Also in this way I’ve produced 10,000 pieces of artwork since the year 2000.

    Everyone that sees my designs can think of an application, “oh, great skirt” “I see sheets”, a rug!, etc. My problem is not knowing how to get them to market.

    What inspires is having everything out around me – I am able to make unusual connections in that way/a neat house would be uninspiring. Also what DOESN’T inspire is… I waited to go to Houston Art Store, got in there, was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things, and how EASY it would be to make art with all of that — so many things were almost finished! Pick up something from aisle 1, put it with aisle 3 item and viola! “Art” could be done. I didn’t buy a SINGLE thing.

    So what DOES inspire? A dumpster behind an art store with pallets having bits of oil paint, restricting me to the pallet colors I’ve found. I love the restrictions of limited or weird materials to work with, then you REALLY have to be creative to use it, but it’ll produce something truly unique – but it’s always gotta look good in the end! If not I recycle, recycle, recycle. I have lots of examples if anyone should inquire/I could say.

    Otherwise, ask your mind the question, review a bunch of material – don’t even try to put it together on the spot, just let the info flow into you, sleep (but keep a notepad by your bedside). If you wake up with idea, note it before it escapes! If not, wake up slowly and you may find it’s all been put together for you in your sleep, ask yourself the same question in the a.m. if it isn’t just already there. Repeat as needed/if needed at all.

    Hope some of this may be useful to someone.

    1. Adriana Apr 28, 2011 at 00:39

      Thank you, Carol for your insight on creative blocks :) By the way, your artworks are very creative, congratulations!

  7. Brian May 1, 2011 at 16:53

    Meditation works well for me. While taking a bath doesn’t immediately help for me, it helps to relax and let go of some stresses for a while, then afterwords, although I am sometimes a bit over relaxed at times, I find myself ready to think freely and creatively. More than anything else though, is the power of groups of people for me. I like to present problems or issues or an idea and ask what other peoples input is. Then by working together ideas seem to merge and creativity flows!

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