How to Spark the Creative Juices

13 August, 2014

It happens to the best of us, you sit down to finish up your latest graphic design and your mind goes blank. If you were a writer, this would be known as writers block. As a graphic designer, this is known as creative hell. You have an idea for what the design should look like but you just can’t put the pieces together.

The next time you find yourself living this nightmare, why not try doing one of the following things to spark your creativity.

Break Out the Paintbrushes

If you are stuck with your design, why not reach for the paintbrushes, charcoal or any other artistic medium. If you are staring blankly at your InDesign or Photoshop screen, why not try something a little different.

More often than not this venture into another art form sparks an idea or at the very least, takes your mind off the current frustrations, which will undoubtedly help get the creative juices flowing.

Sometimes you need to think from a different angle, perhaps think of your design to have guidelines like you're preparing to have t-shirts printed. See this article about preparing artwork for screen printing, it may give you some perspective.

What If?

If your mind quits on you while you are half way through a design, try asking yourself, what if.

  • What if the design was upside down?
  • What if the colors were cold instead of hot?
  • What if you switched the positions of these two elements?

Again, this gets your mind racing as you start to stimulate it with other possibilities. This opens you up to creativity and you will have your graphic designed in no time.

Write Your Own Brief

Not all art is drawn. Sometimes, you need to write things out to determine exactly what you need to do. If you were provided with a brief for the work, rewrite in your own words. There is a great article on something called personal branding that outlines how you can brief yourself to brand yourself online. Sometimes practicing on something such as yourself is the fastest way to get started.

Be detailed with your brief and write out the problem you are trying to solve and why you need to solve this problem. The more information you provide, the better your chances of sparking something great inside that head of yours.

Change Your Surroundings

When all else fails and you are completely stuck then it is time to shake up your environment. Take your work outside, go to a local coffee shop or sit on a park bench.

Don’t feel like leaving the house? Then bring the different surroundings to you by putting up artistic posters or moving your furniture around.

Do anything you can to make your surrounding different and inspiring. These tricks almost always work but if you are in a serious rut, then the best thing you can do is go for a nice, long walk. Follow this advice and you will find yourself getting out of the creative funk in no time.

Using a grid system with web design

10 August, 2014

grid system example

When you are designing your web site you can arrange your media in a grid system. A grid system is a system of horizontal and vertical lines that intersect and form a concise and readable structure for you website. This makes your design more attractive and easy to read with clearly defined areas that represents each article or image.

Using a grid system has been happening for a very long time in print publications but just recently is making an impact for the online web design market. Many CSS grid framework designs have been developed over the past couple of years making it the new standard for web design. The grid design provides a consistency to your website.

This makes it easier to read and follow from one design element to the next. A grid system is not necessarily the only way to go with your wed design project. Since the grid design will be invisible to your readers after you set it up, it’s ok to change it up a bit. Grid systems allow you to design in a flexible proportionate manner and utilize all the different elements of your design appropriately. You will want familiarity and uniformity with your design and a grid system provides that.

Even though the grid system is a well thought out web design element, it can feel a bit stifling and restrictive of creativity. Thus, meaning that you need to think outside the box more. Play around with the design and see what you can fit into the current grid structure. If you feel you need to change it up then reconsider the current grid design.

Grid designs involve a lot of math and calculating, they can seem pretty hard for a beginner. Once you wrap your head around the structure of a grid design you will be able to understand the design elements of a grid much better. Try doing an overlay of your design on top of your grid system and make sure everything works. If it doesn’t then adjust till it fits.

This is not something that will be simple and easy, it will take time to get right and once perfect it will be worth the effort. Grid systems are lots of work and lots of math but with a little bit of hard work and organization you can work it out to be a beautifully streamlined, clean web design with everything in its place.

Some great grid systems include;

  • 960 Grid System
  • Golden Grid System
  • Zurb Foundation
  • Bootstrap
  • 1200px Grid System

There are many types out there, just search "grid frameworks" in google and see what comes up.