The Creative Conundrum: from a student’s perspective

All creative people have at one point or another dealt with “blank page syndrome.” We embark on projects full of excitement which then fades into dismay. Our ideas start to seem sub-par: one might be too boring; another might be too outlandish; the next seems like a rip-off of someone else’s work. Instead of uncovering opportunities we get trapped by dead ends. Doubt clouds our judgement, pressures build and everything starts to seem pointless. We have (too many a time) wondered if we are actually cut out for the job, or whether our efforts are futile and we aren’t meant to be creative. We see so many of our peers appear to create effortless design, and question why we never seem to have the right idea.

We should all take some comfort in knowing that all creative people share these frustrations and uncertainties at some point, or at least I haven’t as yet encountered a genius who just snaps his fingers and produces flawless design.

I believe, many creative obstacles arise from a lack of preparation. I’ve witnessed many designers leap to generating ideas without properly knowing their client or determining a strategy and plan for the project. Then, without having done sufficient groundwork, they set the bar immeasurably high. Having just read Flethcher’s Beware Wet Paint or Sagmeister’s Made you Look these designers strive to match the wit and innovation common of these great minds.

Another obstacle we face upon moving into the creative stage is a shift from analytics to those requiring you to generate options for your client. Transitioning to concepts and visuals adds a layer of abstraction. This complication can lead to spawning random ideas that then send you on a tangent to the design problem at hand. I have learnt, that such divergent thinking leaves you with more questions than answers.

The biggest challenge is that we think too much about what we could do and what others have done, and this anxiety prevents us from simply doing the work. We procrastinate and make excuses: the parameters are ill-defined, the client, the budget, the timeline of some other variable is to blame. Sometimes these challenges may be real, but to dwell on them is a waste of time and energy, which could be better spent getting down to work.

I think having a well devised plan of action before setting out on a design project will help to make the whole design process a logical one. Subsequently, any and all decisions to be made will be based on grounded evidence rather than wild speculation and the need to be ”original.”