A collection of thoughts and musings on design & creative practice.

Finding creative flow

I’m reading The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron at the moment in a bid to tune up my creative muscle. I’m doing this because there are days when I don’t feel creative. The well is dry, I’m burnt out and inspiration is running thin. Not a great combo when you’re running a design studio.

When this happens, it’s time to start looking beyond studio projects and shift my focus towards doing things that stoke my own creative fire - drawing, cooking, photography and other mindless activities that make me feel good.

I try to approach these activities without judgement or expectations. Just let it flow and let go of the result. Sooner or later I’ll find myself entering in to a meditative state and whatever “art” I’m creating seems to be channeled through me.

It took a while for me to adopt this mentality. As a designer, my job is to analyse, strategise and improve an existing model. And for a time, I couldn’t help but apply my “work hat” to all my personal projects. I would say, ‘is this drawing any good?’, ‘are these photos good enough to post on instagram?’.

Sometimes these thoughts would paralyse me from continuing or even getting started on a project in the first place.

Now I’ve learned to change my mentality from judgement to growth. Instead of assessing whether something I made was “good enough”, I’d ask myself if I was learning something new, if I was having fun, if I was feeling relaxed.

I’ve begun to infuse this practice in to my studio work by similarly shifting my mentality. Designer egos want to design things that look banging, but sometimes the flow just isn’t there. Instead of asking, “how can I make this look good?”, I think about the client and the brief. I’ll ask “how do we tell the story of this product, brand, or service?”, “have I learned something new through this process?” and most importantly, “does this design make me feel something emotionally?”

Finding creative flow isn’t always easy but it can be. You have to find what’s blocking you and then trial and error strategies and self talk for overcoming it. And like learning any new skill, practice makes perfect

Rosie Ren