You know that feeling in life of always waiting for the next big thing and forgetting to enjoy the moment you are in? I get like that a lot. Not that my life is so fabulous and exciting that I always have great adventures on the horizon. Sometimes I have to force myself to crave the “here and now”. To take refuge in moments that you might otherwise fill checking your Instagram feed, chronically going over your to-do list in your head, or daydreaming. I guess it’s the visual person in me, but sometimes to savor that moment is taking one thing and seeing it a million different ways, from every angle.
Like a balloon.
Have I lost you yet? In my creative line of work, I’m often given tasks to design things off the top of my head that evoke interest and ingenuity from an audience. For example, most recently, I was tasked with designing a luggage bench for a guest room renovation. I started with the basic concepts that had already been developed in the space: The linear, asymmetrical nature of the custom case goods, and the general design story of a biking trail on the path from a metropolitan city to a suburban oasis. To name a few, I came up with vinyl fabric running like tire treads across the top surface of the seat. Metal wiring, or “Bike spokes” asymmetrically surprising the sides of the bench. For functionality, a tilted, horizontal surface below for shoe storage.
Some of my 15+ ideas were useable, and some too far-fetched for our minimalist-driven client. The real problem is that it took me at least 45 minutes to get there, and it was still more conceptual ideas than fully developed drawings that I could send to the manufacturer. I need to train my brain to reach these creative end results in a more efficient manner.
So, being the pro-active, go-getter employee that I am (Annual Reviews are coming up… gotta look good). I did some research.
At first, you can ask yourself, much like I did, what do I know about the problem that needs solving? Make a list, be that anal-retentive person people have come to know and love. (Well, maybe love is a little strong).
Then, I think I can conclude that you give your left-brain a big margarita, and send it on vacation, forbidden to return until the end of your creative process. To do that it means walking away from the sketchbook, do one of those mindless tasks we all know and love that transitions your train of thought from the accountant, to the artist.
If I’ve learned anything in the last 5 years, it’s that the human spirit lacks pure originality, because look around; we’ve pretty much invented everything! But there is always room to build on pre-existing ideas. So why wouldn’t you make use of tools like the internet to help feed your creative process. Those unadulterated, novel ideas aren’t efficient use of time, and trust me when I say you WILL get surpassed by the millennials who live and breath Google searches, Pinterest, and blogging if you don’t hop on board.
I’ve been that person that is too good to make use of the other designer or artists’ ideas in their own projects. I know that feeling of wanting to be wholly original. But I also know that I want to be an advocate for my client, and for the company that I work for making efficient use of the 8, or 10 no-lunch-break, hours that I spend there every day. Spawning creativity off of other creativity?! What could get more innovative than that?!