3 Ways to Stop the Mental Design Block

Just when you’re beginning to reach your peak and you think nothing can stop you, there it is, waiting, and then you hit it … designer’s block.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt a mental block on my creativity several times in my life, in fact, one was so bad that I even lost my ability to draw accurate images.  You read right – from the age of 17 to 18 I struggled to draw even one thing with accuracy; and at the age of 18 I stopped drawing altogether.  It wasn’t until 3 years after that, at the age of 21, that I drew a small doodle with tone.  Finally, in 2012, at 23, I drew my first complete tonal artwork in 6 years, and that is the rose you see below.

Copyright © 2012 Shahema Tafader

Copyright © 2012 Shahema Tafader

Now I know, I know, I’m not talking about henna, but that makes no difference.  The point is that, like so many, I know what it feels like to get a mental block on my creativity.  Further, as someone who still isn’t able to think creatively at times, I think it’s helpful to know how to help your mind get back in gear … at least, this is how I do it:

  1. STOP.  I know, I get it, you have to keep designing, you have to keep designing, you have a business to run, you can’t not be posting new designs on Instagram … STOP.  Those who genuinely want to see your work will not stop following you on your social feeds if you decide to take a break, and the ones who do leave weren’t right for you in the first place.  So, please, stop trying to design, stop posting on your social feeds, and relax.
  2. RELAX.  While you’re not doing anything, take time to do other activities which you enjoy.  Go bowling, watch movies non-stop, listen to music.  Do whatever it is that makes you relax.
  3. ANALYSE.  When you feel calmer or less anxious than before to design, start looking through designs on the internet in whatever your chosen design field is (henna, graphic design, fine art etc).  See what you like in the images and discard what you don’t.  You may later find that what you like forms parts of your new designs; but remember, you are not designing just yet (unless your block is officially gone).  At this stage you’re analysing what you see.  For the designs you like, ask yourself questions such as: do I like the colour scheme used ?  Is it the concept of the design I’m into, e.g. if the design has a square theme, will you take inspiration from this ?  In simple terms, look and see the images and notice what you like, and what you don’t.

What I have found, so far, is that once I am completely relaxed, I start to imagine designs again, with a little help from inspiration from what I have recently analysed, or from what I already knew.

I hope that my method helps you during your design block, but we are all different, and I would love to hear what you personally do to stop the block.  Please share your method with me in the comment box below and may be next time, I’ll use your method.

[Side note: If you have read my previous post (link: http://wp.me/p4xXzE-2i) you’ll know that there’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other work to create your own, and I would add, this is so even from a UK copyright point of view.  So please feel like you can do this.  If you would like me to create a post outlining UK copyright law please leave a comment below.]

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