How Our Design Team Stays Inspired
Staring at a screen is often not the best way to generate ideas. Being a brand agency, we have a lot of screens and a lot of requests for ideas.
Have you ever noticed that your best thinking often comes when you’re standing in the shower? Or right as you’re about to nod off? Or after talking to yourself while driving?
Apparently, this timing has a lot to do with dopamine. Being relaxed and in a non-judgemental place with no distractions is the perfect setting for dopamine to be released and therefore creative idea generation. Our brains often need to be working at a certain wavelength for our minds to spark, or for something to click. But when your job demands hitting this creativity multiple times a day, how can we manufacture this brilliance?
We asked our design team for insights into what they do to stay inspired. Of course, different tactics will work for different people. Read on and you might just pick up a new way to shake up your day until the good ideas come loose.
Ben’s number one piece of advice is to find a great team filled with creative and passionate people.
Being able to bounce ideas off and collaborate with other designers results in a more rewarding and fulfilling design journey for Ben. As he puts it, he feels inspired when he gets to use his skills “to help someone realise their vision for their business or product.”
Another technique of Ben’s is backed by none other than Albert Einstein himself. It’s called ‘combinatory play’ and it basically involves getting up and changing what you’re doing. Yoga, knitting, dancing, air drum solo—it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s different and you’re having fun.
Why does Ben support this thinking so much? “Most designers sit at a desk for most of their day so it’s really important to move your body during the day to keep your body and mind healthy!”
Here at the office, we have a park nearby that’s regularly used for a stroll. Getting a coffee or snacks makes for a great excuse to leave your desk and readjust your perspective. Even taking up a class around your workday can do wonders. Or just get up and dance. Right now, at your desk. Go on, boogie!
Known for his daily trips to the local 7-Eleven for snacks of the Haribo and Dorito kind, Lester knows sugar is his designing fuel. While he’s at work, anyway.
When he’s not in the office, he’s enjoying the tranquillity of his home where he finds monotonous physical tasks to clear his mind. Mowing the grass, digging holes, chopping wood, and hugging chickens all help Lester keep his body busy while creating space for his mind to do its thinking. Or as he puts it, “busy hands, empty head”.
These days, there’s always another episode to watch or another game to play. With so much technology and content at our fingertips, letting your brain be bored sometimes gives you space to explore new ideas without distraction. Which is why Lester recommends the forced boredom approach for idea generation. He’s sure there’s “some monk thing like this” so he’s confident it’s a reputable approach.
Lastly, engaging with interviews from other designers, illustrators, and artists help Lester understand how others approach their work, which in turn inspires his approach. What keeps him humming along? “Hanging out with other creative people who are doing creative stuff in and out of work”.
What’s Tommy’s major inspiration? Music.
Music has been shown to stimulate mind-wandering, where your thoughts roam without conscious direction and where creativity is abundant. It’s the same state that happens while in the shower or driving.
For Tommy, music is non-negotiable—unlike food. As he puts it, “I can go hours without food, but if there’s no music I’ll struggle to get in the zone and come up with the craziest ideas.”
According to science, “liking” the music you’re listening to doesn’t actually impact its benefits to creativity. But for Tommy, he prefers the music to reflect his mood, so it changes depending on the time of the day.
Will is all about creativity inspiring creativity.
He likes to watch movies as he appreciates films that are shot beautifully. Blogs about design and architecture are a great resource for Will as they inform his designs which use geometric shapes and negative space. Even scrolling the well-loved free stock imagery site Unsplash can ignite something in Will that gets his creative juices flowing.
When asked how to deal with frustration as a designer, Will offered that “switching to a different project can boost your creative morale”. Rather than banging your head against a wall over one design concept, switch to something else on your list to give your brain and soul a break.
Furthermore, he’s trying to get into meditation and mindfulness. Aren’t we all.