The term Creative Block suggests an obstacle like a roadblock but anyone who’s suffered from it knows that it’s not a roadblock, it’s a Maze. As a logo designer you’ll have a brief to meet but trying to come up with a creative solution to solve the brief, just sends you around in circles.
Some common symptoms that arise with creative block are:
- Your brain is filled with a million logo ideas
- All ideas feel like great ideas but quickly become wrong ideas
- These logo designs work well on paper but are crap in digital form
- Eventually, you’ll feel like nothings working
- You may feel like quitting
- At the same time you may also feel like working harder to find a solution (starting the cycle again)
- Your brain is probably thinking at 100mph
A creative block can happen to anyone and can also be known as a thinking block or writers block, but it’s a particular problem for people in a creative industry. I use to experience creative block now and again in my early days as a designer but from experience as a professional designer I’ve learnt why you may get a creative block and in doing so, I know how to solve it. Check out my top tips to solve creative block for you as a logo designer.
1.A crappy logo design brief leads to a Creative Block
In the past my brain has gone round and around trying to create a logo design to meet a design brief but no solution felt completely right and lead to a creative block. The problem was not with me but with the creative brief itself. Sometimes creative briefs and even clients can be whimsical with their desires because they themselves don’t know what the end result for a logo design should be, so they just leave that objective out.
On the flipside, the logo design brief may contain too many objectives, with too many ideas contradicting one another. This is usually common place if the brief is filled out by more than one person like a board of directors, partners or a team. The issue here is that everyone has their own ideas for the logo design and none are in sync with another.
In any case, this means that the logo design doesn’t have an objective and if there’s no objective then there’s no right or wrong answer and no real way of moving forward with an idea because none of the ideas have any objective to meet. Every idea you produce could be the wrong idea and there’s no way of telling without an objective. This leads to a creative block and to solve it you need to do one of three things:
Re-address the client and brief
If the problem lies in the brief, re-addressing the client and brief can help to clarify the logo design objective. This however doesn’t always work out as there’s no guarantee that the brief will become any clearer after a discussion, especially when it wasn’t clear in the beginning.
Take charge of the project
If the brief and client doesn’t know what the logo’s objective should be then a good solution is to take charge of the project yourself. Create the logo’s objective using your own expertise and work towards it.
Look for inspiration
The issue may not be with the brief or the client, maybe it’s just you. Any number of reasons could lead you to be un-inspired by the project so a good idea is to re-read the brief and look for inspiration from it as well as finding inspiration from other research.
2.A lack of research leads to a creative block
More often than not, creative block is created from a lack of research and the lack of a brief plays a big part in that problem. If there’s not a lot of information to begin with then its hard to pinpoint the problem and create a solution. A lack of research or information is un-inspiring in general! A good way to avoid creative block is to get back to research and build a concept because there’s no such thing as an original idea that pops into your head like a lightbulb. All original ideas are based on other ideas, even if they’re unrelated ideas.
Research = Inspiration = Idea = Solution
Research could involve anything and everything from text and videos to colours and looking at other designs but this can also be a dangerous game. In a state of creative block, it then becomes easy to copy someone else’s logo design to solve a problem.
You need to remember that this doesn’t solve the problem or the creative block. It’s just a quick fix that will break.
What I like to do is look at no other logo designs when I’m working on a logo design myself. I come up with the idea and build it and if I get stuck whilst making it, I’ll look at other logo designs to figure out technical details.
It’s usually one small element in another design that can smash your creative block and spark inspiration for your logo design.
3. Focus, creates and solves creative blocks
We all work better at certain parts of the day, when in certain moods or maybe when doing certain tasks. This relates to your personal traits and might signify when you’ll get a creative block.
I would say that I work better under pressure but I would also say that I’m a better designer when I’m relaxed. Whilst both are true, they’re contradictory. The real truth is that I work better when I’m in a focused state of mind.
I find that creative block happens to me when I’m on edge and it has nothing to do with pressure or stress. It’s just that sometimes, my brain runs at 100mph because I’m trying to accomplish something. In this cases my brain is super focused and superb at working fast, solving technical problems creatively or what I may see as small problems, quickly. That focus won’t work well with a creative task such as a logo design, which I see as a task that needs time and refinement.
For logo design I need a different type of focus. A focus that’s still sharp but slowed down and relaxed, allowing me to make small, accurate and logical steps to get the right solution.
Working with a state of focus that aligns with your momentary strengths, helps to smash creative block.
If your brain is not working for logo design then leave the logo alone and come back to it later, when your creative block will be gone.
4.Food, Drink, Noise & Sleep helps smash creative blocks
For me, food, drink and sleep is what gives me my natural focus, whether it gets me relaxed and focused or hyped up and focused. In any case it gives me fuel for thought and focus. On the other hand, noise is a fickle thing.
Too loud noise makes me lose focus immediately and I’ll start getting creative blocks. Low background noise, helps me focus with design projects and creative work but ultimately no noise helps me when I’m writing. Each case can either build a creative block or solve it.
5. Stop trying to be so clever as a logo designer
So far I’ve placed the problem of creative block on anything and everything else, but you as a logo designer are also to blame for your own creative block because you want to do such a good job with the logo design. When you win a new logo design job, you may get excited. You want to do a great job and you may get carried away, trying to create something magnificent as a logo design and in the end you may try too hard to create a logo design by:
- Putting too much premise on the job and client
- Putting too much premise on producing something original
- Putting too much premise on producing something spectacular
- Trying to create a logo design that’s as cool as one that you saw elsewhere.
This leads to creative block because you’re trying to be too clever and you can’t figure out how to make something soo clever and cool, and still be relevant to the clients brief. The problem here lies with you, the designer. I know this because as a designer in my early days, I’ve done it myself.
My goal was to outdo myself and wow the client but before showing the mockups, I knew in my heart that this fancy logo design that I created was not the best logo design for their business. I would end up scrapping the idea or showing it as an alternative. In any case the right logo design was always recommended by me.
Don’t suffer from creative block by trying to create a glorified logo design because a great logo design doesn’t have to be wildly original or spectacularly cool. A great logo design needs to be beautiful subtle and classy. It needs to communicate and build relationships with customers.
Today I’m an expert and experienced logo designer and the work flows naturally out of me. Creative blocks are a thing of the past because I know how to deal with them. Ultimatley, creative block doesn’t come down to a block. It comes down to a lack of research or an unfocused mindstate.