After a long hard day of busting my brain over our site design overhaul , Charlie’s question made me grin.
I often admire the creativity of others, whether I see it in design or the written word. I enjoy the creativity people express and the process behind the creation.
Charlie’s question got me thinking, though. How do I come up with the stuff?
Going Back to Basics
In college, I majored in scientific illustration, a specialized form of illustration that focuses on wildlife, archaeology and medicine.
A scientific illustrator might land a job drawing the finds of an archaeological dig or creating displays and graphics for a zoo or natural history museum. Scientific illustrators also create the technical drawings for biology and medical textbooks.
While I studied, our projects often involved researching the elements of a culture or habitat and then working those elements into a final design. A poster for the art of ancient Egypt, for example, offered inspiration from a culture rich in symbolism.
There were the usual pyramids and lotus blossoms, but there was also the warmth of gold, the richness of lapis lazuli and all the colors of the desert at sunset as well as the patterns in the sand and the scales on crocodiles.
Designing blog themes and websites involves the same type of research. A client has a basic image in mind (or sometimes no image at all), and it’s up to the designer to find as many elements to arrange, incorporate and play with as possible.
Find The Unusual and Dig Deeper
Once you feel inspired by basic elements, don’t stop. Release your imagination and figure out how to make the elements you’ve discovered unique.
This was the case with the element I’d created that held Charlie in awe. I’d been toying with elements of our new and upcoming design that could be incorporated into the RSS button, wondering which would be just right.
When I found the object that had potential, I started to stretch, bend and distort the shape. I played with the color and shading to eventually create a unique element for our design.
Finding Inspiration Within Creation
So many posts discuss finding inspiration. We know how to get inspired and stimulate our minds. We read, we watch movies, we go for walks or spend time watching people from a table in the local café. Sometimes we do nothing at all and just daydream our inspiration into being.
Creation comes after inspiration. When we create, we attempt to take the inspiration we’ve seized and transfer these ideas into the physical world. During the act of creation, we discover more inspiration.
When I design, I perform visual brainstorming. I’ll begin the process with a few images I think might go well together, and then I often try to move, bend, stretch, colorize, distort and shuffle the elements until the look fits. Very often the result is nothing at all like my original idea.
Creation doesn’t stop there for me. James and Charlie take a look, and then changes ensue. The creative process becomes a group effort, evolving further as three people collaborate to the point where we each sit back and say, “That’ll do.”
(100 points goes to the person who names the movie source of that quote.)
How Do You Create?
Everyone has a different method of creation.
Some might say, “Oh, I don’t know. It just happens.” I admit I was one of those people, but when I sat down to think about it further, I discovered that my creative process doesn’t just happen. It wasn’t random. I did indeed have a process.
So what’s yours? How do you create?