7 Ways to Set Your Creative Inspiration on Fire

Creative Block Begone!

But seriously. How can you actually get inspired, beyond the obvious? There’s got to be more to it than just the same old ‘doodle in your sketchbook’ advice. What about going to a pop-up museum for inspiration? Watching a movie on one of the world’s most iconic designers? Here are some tips from the pros on how they take time off to recharge, vault over any lingering creative block, and refuel the creative flow.

Courtesy Inky and the Beast

1. Get off Photoshop and take a letterpress class

Printing the old way, with letterpress, is an age old tradition. Why not take an intro course? There are letter press studios run by artist and design-run collectives across the world, like Inky and the Beast in the U.K., run by designer Jen Wright. She teaches the classic Adana table-top press, as well as printing your own designs on a half-ton, mid-century printing press, as well as a proof press workshop. For a view of all of the world’s letterpress courses. For a view of all of the world’s letterpress courses, check out this map here.

Blurb magazine

2. Start your own print side project

Nothing can be more refreshing than taking full reigns of your own print project, whether it’s a zine, a magazine or a photo book. Blurb is one way to print your creations, from beginning to end. But self-publishing has been around for decades. So many people have been touched and inspired by zines that the phenomenon can no longer be dismissed as marginal,” says music writer, Karren Ablaze.

Flywheel Design via Nicole Kraieski

3. Don’t underestimate the power of play

Whether its spray painting, poster-making or even sending out creative letter mail, doing a playful project can really spark the creative gears. Especially if it “is enough to draw out your inner child and inspire you in ways you’d never imagine,” says writer Suchi Rudra. “You’re bound to learn a thing or two, pick up some ideas to add to your repertoire and have lots of fun along the way.” Try getting crafty with letter mail to a pen pal, it might inspire a marketing mail-out project. Here are some stunning envelope designs to discover.

Abstract: The Art of Design, courtesy Netflix

4. Watch documentaries about great design to banish creative block

Beyond the obvious Steve Jobs documentary, what could really get you thinking? On YouTube, check out the documentary on Nordic design, or even the documentary on Dutch design, Dutchness. Of course, there’s an entire website that has pooled together all the great films on art and design, Designers Watch. On Netflix, check out Abstract: The Art of Design doc, which features interviews with iconic design legends Paula Scher, Christop Niemann and more. Here are a list of a bunch of docs every designer should see.

5. Check out other industries for inspirationIn other words, get outside your comfort zone. 

According to Larry Kim, the CEO of MobileMonkey Inc., be prepared to find inspiration from other industries. “Look for innovation in different industries and niches,” said Kim. “How can you transfer what worked for businesses outside your industry to your own market? Maybe you can improve on these ideas. Taking inspiration from other industries is a great way to boost your own creativity.”

Casino di Venezia

6. Visit an architectural masterpiece

On your next trip to Europe, check out beyond-the-obvious hotspots. One is the oldest casino in the world, for example, which sits on the Grand Canal in Venice. The Casino di Venezia, which opened in 1638, was initially a theatre with a wing for gambling during play intermissions. It helped spark the start of casino culture in Venice, as after the opening of this gambling hotspot, over 120 casinos opened by 1744.

Casino di Venezia

Digging beneath the surface (like the Colosseum or the leaning tower of Pisa) proves that the pilgrimage to architectural masterpieces can be an adventure in and of itself but also inspire all your senses as you get up-close and personal with a wonder of the world or two.

Courtesy Museum of Ice Cream

7. Head out to a pop-up museum

The Museum of Pizza recently opened in New York, one of the several pop-up selfie museums. Call it the Kusama-effect, as ever since Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Room” exhibition has taken off, selfie-friendly art and design has become an industry of its own, known as “made-for-Instagram” exhibits, or “selfie factories.” Check out the pros and cons of the design at the Museum of Candy, for example, or the ever-touring Museum of Ice Cream.

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