Wednesday, 19 June 2013

12 ways to get past a creative block!

We all get to a point every now and then where our creative juices just dry up.  It may be that you can’t get a pattern to look right, it may be your bored of a particular theme or it could be you just can’t find a theme that excites you and makes you want to create.  I know I tend to panic a bit when this happens as I feel as if I won’t get anything done!  First of all, DON’T panic, it happens to all of us and you are not alone.

Secondly, get a cuppa tea and a biscuit/cake, sit down and just have a mini break.  I've laid out a few ideas for you to try to bring back the excitement you usually feel when designing.

12 ways to get past a creative block!

  1. Grab your camera and go for a walk – There are patterns in everything you look at, try and look at things with a different perspective.  Is there a teeny tiny pattern hidden in the leaves or the flower petals, in bricks of houses or the stones on the path.  This may seem a bit of an abstract idea but I find little shapes will spark off ideas.  How about peoples garden gates, walls or fences or even the benches in the park.  When you start to look a bit closer at objects there are patterns in everything, especially in nature.  Capture these on your camera and bring them back so you can sketch from them.

  1. Google Images – I love to draw and design floral patterns, so one of the things I do is Google a list of flower names, or plant names.  You could Google meadow flowers, country flowers, exotic flowers, or Google any type of theme and you will have plenty of photos to work from.  You don’t have to do this for just flowers; you could search for anything, for example, beach items, kitchen utensils or types of make up.  Any theme you want, just search for a list and there may be things you never would have thought of.

  1. Brainstorm – Get a big piece of paper and write your theme or just ‘Ideas’ in the middle.  Next write down absolutely everything you can think of, look around the house and things you could draw (furniture, dresses, bowls, plates, books, film themes), write any thoughts and feelings that link to these items or themes.  Expand as much as you can on everything you write down so you have a huge amount of themes you can go to if you ever get stuck.  There will usually be an object or word that will jump out and I think ‘Oh yes I feel like drawing that…’ You could even start a list in a Word Document that you can look back at if you feel stuck.

  1. Hop about different Blogs – There are tons of design blogs out there, don’t limit yourself to just these though, there are Lifestyle blogs, beauty blogs and fashion blogs to name a few.  These will all give you an insight into different types of design and may give you new ideas or new directions to take.  You can find some of my favourite blogs in the right hand side bar of my blog =) Please share your favourites!

  1. Do something fun – Have you ever made a bucket list? If not, make one, you don’t have to put only your big dreams on there (but do make sure they are included!), put your little dreams on too.  Did you want to try out a new sport, or a new club? Zumba? Kickboxing? Swimming? Well sign yourself up to something new, get out of the house and go and do it.  Flower arranging? Sewing? Upholstery? Golf? Cooking? Photography? Writing? I’d love to hear your top 10 on your bucket list! Post it below in the comments =)

  1. Look around your house for patterns or ideas – Patterns are literally everywhere you look, why not dissect the pattern on your clothes or bags?  You may come up with new motifs you can make into an original pattern.  Look at the flowers and only draw a part of them, the stem, the shape of one of the petals, draw things from different angles or from up above.  There are patterns on picture frames, handles on your chest of drawers, patterns on book covers; they are literally everywhere so keep your eyes peeled!

  1. Have a chat with some friends – If you’re stuck on a theme or want some new ideas, why not talk to someone else.  See what their point of view is, I often go and talk to my mum and she has a different way of seeing the world, I even ask my 8 year old brother what he thinks as he has a completely different perspective and gives me a good insight into ideas for children’s designs.

  1. Go window shopping – They have loads of pretty products on sale so see what is already in the market, is there a theme you hadn’t thought of?  What about having a look around an antiques fair, a charity shop or even a carboot?  There are loads of items, have a root around in the boxes and see if there are some unusual objects that give you any new ideas.

  1. Go for a drive – How about just thinking about it for a while, go for a nice peaceful drive, put some of your favourite music on and have a brainstorm on the move.

  1. Pinterest – There is an abundance of inspiration on Pinterest, if you haven’t got it then sign up! Start repining some of the things that you love, make your own boards up, one for Patterns, Illustrations, Typography, Invitations or Children’s Designs.  You can also make up boards (moodboards) for certain themes to collect all of your ideas in one place.

  1. Try a new market – You never know you might love designing for it.  If you’re a floral designer mostly why not try geometrics and vice versa.  You may have a new direction because of having a different background.  Why not try designing for children, or men if you design for women mostly.  Try designing a different type of product, you need to adapt your style if you are used to designing for stationary and you want to try wallpaper or bedding.  Research into some of these markets and how they differ from one another.  You could try designing for party or wedding invitations even.  There are tons of different markets and products, mix it up a little.

  1. Finally, as a last resort, Shout out about it – Shout out to your followers on Twitter and Facebook or on your blog about your predicament.  As I said, you are not alone! All designers get these creative blocks every now and then, someone else may have just what you need.  So just ask for help =)

I hope these little ideas help you out if you're ever in this situation, let me know how you go about getting around your creative blocks and what you do to inspire yourself again!


  1. Great post Emma. Loved your ideas! I'll get back to you about the bucket list! Will have to have a good old think!!

  2. All great ideas! I love to brainstorm... think I will go and do that now :-)

  3. Thank you for this post...V. helpful...