As many graphic designers may agree, one of the hardest parts of what we do is finding ways to stay creative and inspired. Our line of work is full of countless hours plugging away behind a computer monitor moving pixels around and trying to figure out the best solution for the design. Our computers are such a major part of our lives, that we can’t imagine life without them. We use them at work and then we use them at home. I often say to people that I carry my whole life with me on my laptop and I take care of it as if it were a child; well not to that extent, but close. I love working on computers and having everything at my disposal, but after some time this can get very draining.
As a creative person, I have a constant need of doing something creative even during my free time. I am constantly thinking of projects I can start and cool new design styles to try out. These ideas excite me, but there is one huge issue I often run into. After constantly working 10 hour days behind a computer screen, doing more work on a computer is often the last thing I want to do. Because of this I have had to find new ways to get my creative fix; something outside of the digital realm.
Below are some activities I do that help keep me in a creative mindset without feeling like I am just doing more work behind a computer screen. I feel these could be helpful for other designers also looking for ways to stay creative while being able to step away from their computer.
I know this may be a bit cliché, but this is something I do and I know many others do too. There is something about grabbing a notebook and just putting some fun doodles down that puts my mind at ease. This work isn’t for anyone but myself, there is no pressure. This is where I can just play around; draw whatever comes to mind no matter if it’s pretty, ugly or absurd. I just let my imagination take the wheel and go with it.
This is something that I have come to really enjoy. I don’t paint as often as I wish I would because the setup and cleanup are time-consuming when you lack a dedicated space for this. Constantly having to put the paints away and set up the easel is my downfall, but when I do get around to painting, this is when I feel most free. I love to push the paint around on the canvas. I used to steer away from anything abstract and would confine myself to painting things that were “real”. However as soon as I tried abstract painting I saw what all the fuss was about. It is not about the result. Yes, it can look cool and intriguing at times, but it is more about the journey of how we got there. The idea of just doing whatever I want with the paint and brush; moving, spraying, dripping the paint, using whatever color your heart desires, is what I love. The feeling I get while painting greatly outweighs whatever the piece looks like at the end. All I care about is the creativity and enjoyment that was involved in the creating of the piece.
Okay, so I’m not much of a baker, most of my stuff comes from boxes, but it tastes good. I don’t necessarily care for the baking side, but what I truly enjoy is the decorating process. I love being able to use my creativity and artistic capabilities to create beautiful little bitesize pieces of art that family and friends can enjoy. I am constantly trying new techniques and pushing the boundaries of what I can do. I have evolved from simple cake decorating to cupcakes, cake pops and now even making and decorating my own churros and doughnuts. The medium used in cake decorating is a lot more fickle than the other mediums I’m used to, but that’s part of the fun.
Being a very tactile person, this helps because I get to use my hands to create something. I enjoy the feeling of squeezing the clay between my fingers and forming it to create something awesome. This is the only medium I work in that is tangible and the result is three-dimensional. As an avid vinyl figure collector, I like to take some of these figures and modify them to create completely different characters. I get to make them look how I want and give them the paint job I want. I have complete creative freedom. Plus, there’s nothing like having your favorite comic book characters being fully realized and coming to life by your hands.
These are just some examples of how I try to stay creative without being behind a computer screen. There is some aspect that I truly love about each and that’s why I believe it works for me. Hopefully, these ideas will also help you in your search for creativity beyond the glowing screen, or at least spark something in you to try your own thing. Maybe you’ll find something you truly love.