As a designer, it’s typical to find inspiration in my surroundings to keep my creativity fresh. The field of design is not limited by a nine-to-five schedule, and a design-er is never truly off the clock. At the liquor store, I’m judging product design, deciding taste with sight. On instagram, I’m following accounts that take their color palette very seriously. How many times have you read a great book with a hideous cover? I’m going to take a guess: zero.
All this is to say that I have found it challenging to be confined within a single space (my house) for an extended period of time and remain innovative. To top it off, we just moved, so I am surrounded not only by walls, but blank, cat-vomit-beige walls. Sure, I could escape into my phone for inspiration, but human eyeballs can only take so much blue light! Instead, I’ve turned to my other senses for inspiration.
In college, I spent my senior year of art school capturing people’s reactions to music. I liked to pretend I could glimpse how the music looked just by watching them listening to it. It’s proven that music can stimulate the brain in undeniable ways, but lately I’ve been delving into podcasts to stimulate creative piquancy. If I’m stuck on a design concept and feel as though I’ve tested out all options, listening to a podcast that discusses a topic out of left field can sometimes lead me down an avenue I hadn’t yet explored. It’s subtle; the podcast doesn’t say “add a gradient and move it 100 pixels to the left,” but, listening to a philosophical debate or anonymous counseling session can take me out of my four walls just enough to show me a new pathway. Oh, and it sounds like there are other people in my workspace, too!
Digital design is a beautiful thing. I love command C and better yet, command Z. Vectors are a dear friend. Adobe is my playground (except Ps, you slow everything down). Every now and then though, I find myself limited by my mouse and confined by digital workspaces. Something that never fails to save me from a creative block is hands-on design. I used to pull out the charcoal and pastels but now that I have a toddler, my sanity won’t allow it. Instead, I’ve found other mediums to keep me away from any screens: polymer clay and home improvements. Molding clay and creating my own color palettes and jewelry has been so refreshing. Also, since I’m living in a blank slate, I’ve turned to power tools and interior paint to get the juices flowing. When I exercise my creative muscles away from my professional workspace, I always return to it with some pep in my slippered step.
This tip is pretty simple: eat delicious food. I’ve been cooking more since social distancing and let me tell you, food can be a work of art. I’m not saying my recipes are anything special, but using what I’ve got stocked in the pantry is a creative challenge nonetheless. Even during the work day, when I used to rush to pack a lunch before heading out the door to the office, I can now take my lunch break and actually cook something healthy and interesting. My most recent edible portfolio consists of an array of quiches and pestos (even pesto in quiche)! Nothing keeps you more motivated at your desk then something yummy to snack on.
Along with finding new activities to stay creatively stimulated during this tumultuous time, I’m also learning to cut myself some slack. I may not feel as accomplished at the end of a work day as I normally would, because let’s be honest: nothing about this is normal. So, my advice as a fellow creative is to let your senses wander during this time of isolation, and they may just open some creative doors you didn’t know were closed.