10 Tips to Avoid a Creative Block

Categories The Inspired List, Web Design

Today’s guest star is Jacques van Heerden – a freelance digital artist from South Africa who works under the creative identity An1ken. He runs Creativeoverflow – a fresh design blog for anything creative. You should definitely connect with him on Twitter @an1ken.

Creative Blocks are quite common in the industry that we work in especially amongst very busy designers. I can say that it is truly one of the most depressing feelings you can experience as a designer. The usual reason for obtaining such a evil thing is when a designer starts comparing his/her work against someone better than him/her. There are multiple reasons that a creative block can occur, but that is solely the main cause.

We aren’t here to debate about how and how not to get hold of a Creative Block. We are here to enrich your memory with some tips to avoid the hazard. Being a designer myself I have had the problem numerous times in the beginning, after following up and using these tips I haven’t had a Creative Block in more than a year. Let’s get straight tot the tips.

1. Doodle in Your Sketchbook


Graphic Designers always sketch up some ideas or concepts when starting on new projects. I know I do and I have been sketching and drawing since I was little and you might have too. Drawing takes your mind off things and gets your creative juices flowing, you will be surprised how quickly ideas come back to you just from doodling in a little book.

2. Visit Inspirational Galleries on the Web


Looking through designs that were created by other people is usually a great inspiration too. People around the world has gone about setting up Inspirational Galleries for us to visit and view masses of art on the same website, saving us time and effort. I recommend visiting Inspirational Design Galleries as a hobby day to day too, keeping you up to date with the design trends. Read more on 10 Niche Social Networks to Get Your Design Creativity On

3. Take a Walk


Get out of your office, sitting all day is just going to make you look at the same things over and over again which definitely isn’t going to benefit you. Go outside and take the dog for a walk or just go for a walk by yourself. The fresh air and seamless nature around you might drive some new inspiration into you.

4. Search for New Fonts


You will be surprised by how much inspiration you can draw from a few simple curves. It freshens up your thinking patterns and gets your mind fixed on the things that you have to do. Fonts aren’t only used for saying something, they are also used to create something. Read more on 20 Websites for Font, Letter and Symbol enthusiasts

5. Stop Doubting Yourself


Self doubt is a huge thing to overcome a a person, every person faces it sometime or another.When the time comes and you break free from the emotional stumble block a whole new world opens up. Like I said earlier don’t compare yourself to other people, take a stand and believe in yourself, you will accomplish a lot.

6. Get Away For a Day or Two


Sitting in front of the computer days at a time isn’t good at all. My advice is to go away with friends or family for a day or two, the change of scenery will change your thinking patterns and a few ideas might spring up in the process. Keeping a balanced lifestyle is very important in the work that we do, working out is essential.

7. Take your work to the nearest Coffee Shop


Working amongst a busy environment can be very beneficial, especially if you have to come up with new concepts and ideas. The reason is that nothing stays the same, it keeps constantly changing and therefore your thinking changes. You won’t understand the difference until you have experienced it yourself. Try it.

8. Go out with some friends


A night on the town with some friends can bring across some inspiration as well. Having fun and taking your mind off work lets you relax and have fun and not think about your clients.

9. Listen to some Music


Try changing your usual music taste to something different that you don’t always listen to. It broadens your spectrum of thinking and moving by inputting some new sounds and words. A lot of inspiration can be drawn from a simple song. Read more on 20 Fantastic Ways to Find New Music that You Like

10. Follow Some Tutorials


You might think that you don’t want to follow tutorials because you want to come up with your own work, but learning new techniques is the only way to improve your skills and creativity. Following tutorials is a very good base to start off with, because you can add your personal touch to the image you are working on.

Your turn now guys, any tips you feel like sharing?

Jacques is a freelance digital artist from South Africa who works under the creative identity An1ken & runs the Creativeoverflow design blog.
  • Vuk

    I totally agree with this list, as I do everything on it. Really! Doodling, listening to an mp3 mixtape, even going for a walk can be inspirational, or at least it will help you blow off some steam. Still, I have to add that applying these principles where I live, in Croatia, can also lead to frustration. Positive surroundings are also a crucial factor.

    I would add one more thing, and that’s skimming through new/old magazines and books, at home or at bookstores. Just soaking that stuff in can lead to some great work if you’re a visual artist, as it is better to do research like that rather than follow some trend everybody’s copying off.

    Great work An1ken, I’ll add you on Twitter, peace.

  • I totally agree the “talking a walk” + you get to get some exercise too !

    Those are very useful tips! Thank you

  • Will add some of those to my routine… And 2 days of skiing in a week would act a getaway I definitely need….

  • JSF

    This list isn’t just for creative, but also for anyone who needs creative inspiration in their jobs. Excellent advice!

  • thanks a lot. these tips are really helpfull and encourage my minds to take more breaks in my daily work.

  • I agree with your tips and would like to add my 2 cents: read a book! Any good book can be a real source of inspiration for new ideas. Reading also contributes to relax your mind and gives you fresh energy.

  • Great tips, I mainly agree with “Take a walk”, usually I’m going for a long run…

  • Sam

    What’s the name of the gallery on the screenshot under “2. Visit Inspirational Galleries on the Web” (yes the black one) ???

  • thanks for the great tips , now i can check myself, OMG i was sitting in the system, i have to be offline for some days, and doddles really give me some new ideas

  • nice tips, just what I needed thanks!

  • I liked the atmosphere of calm, sometimes listen some music can be distractions for me.
    Thanks for share, I get new tips.

  • Great post! It would be great to have time to do all of these, especially the relaxing walks. I find that listening to good music always helps. Cheers!

  • Fractalfrog

    Completely agree with Conpanna with the running!
    It’s like the movement of my body washes away all the “junk” thoughts and background “noise”, instead I can focus completely at the problem at hand.
    Very effective and healthy as well!

  • Excellent tips all the way around, Jacques :)

    Taking a walk is a great idea – clearing the head and getting fresh air always helps me.

  • Always nice to pick up other designers perspectives on creative block. Thanks for sharing & great article.

  • Nice tips. I always find it useful to look at what is trendy in a field completely unrelated to the work you’re doing. You can usually incorporate some elements into your work.

  • yep. solid. what i do (but getting away for a day or two is not an option)

  • We often just meet up in the lovely back garden of our studio and trash out some more ideas in the sun.

    I some time stand on a table or just sit on the floor to gain a new perspective on thing.

    Oh well. helps me at least.


  • RJC

    Always found going on a trip to somewhere completely foreign helps kick start my creativity. Taking one out of their comfort zone allows them to think differently and adapt in the new environment.

    I think a summary of combining most of your tips together would be best. Because like it or not, we live in a multitasking world nowadays.

  • Nice tips man, wanna add one more alternative “Sleeping” hehe take a rest a bit to recover your energy ^^

  • Wyn

    theres a book out called Midday Crisis which i use to help me, its got simple kick starters that are fun and give me great ideas. yu can get it at
    http://www.middaycrisis.com i don’t go anywhere without it!! so cool!!

  • ;Ya wow. Cool

  • I reallyyyy agree with this list. I do all of this and until now… it work for me just fine.

  • I totally agree with this list, and I have something else to add. It is laughing, yes, laugh and have a lot of fun. This always clears your mind and gets your negative,frustrated and tired self away.

  • Being a creator can be difficult. Mostly we defeat ourselves. Here is Actress Tilda Swinton on the example filmmaker Derek Jarman set for us:

    Less chat, more action.

    Less fiscal reporting, more film.

    Less paralysis, more process.

    Less deference, more dignity.

    Less money, more work.

    Less rules, more examples.

    Less dependence, more love.

    I suggest reading that again out loud.

    From the film “Derek”

    I was so moved by that film I put this on my blog:

  • hacer ejercicio físico también ayuda a concentrar mejor en nuestro trabajo, y poder generar ideas mas rápido, también cada 10 minutos despejar la vista fuera de la pantalla ayuda mucho…

    hace tiempo que sigo algunos de los consejos, funcionan!

  • I’m on the right track then. Getting into mood music works or going to a nearby coffee shop, scribbling of ideas over a hot blend of cafe mocha whilst sitting on a cozy couch :)

  • Definitely a good set of tips. Thanks for putting this together. I thinking getting away from a problem is essential. It’s amazing how much a little space can change your perspective on a problem that seems unsolvable.

    One thing I would add is “train your brain.” Whether you use mindmapping, forced connections or random stimuli, I think training your brain to use brainstorming techniques can provide just the push you need to get over the creative hump. For free, step-by-step guides how to brainstorm, check out my site http://brainboltz.com.

  • Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • CN

    Really loved this advice! Number #3 is great, it really clears the head to start again!

  • Great tips here! I have done most of these techniques and they all seem to work. However, lately, I’ve been doing a lot of walking for lunch and not doubting myself. I think those help a ton, especially when you combine a few of these tips.

    I’d have to say that not doubting yourself is the most important!

  • Very helpful tips. I definitely practiced a few. Thanks!

  • james

    I have also found some great tips that helped me get past some serious creativity blockers… maybe you will like it as much as I did.