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I'm Not Slow; The Creative Process Takes Time

January 22, 2010 | Design Basics

I like to think of myself as someone who can think on her feet. But sometimes when a client, or potential client asks me a question, I end up with just a blank stare or dead silence.

If I’m asked about the nuts and bolts of building a brand identity, the general process of web development, or even the identity of a typeface I can usually come up with an articulate answer quickly. But if you ask me to provide you with some creative ideas, out of the blue, you may not be as impressed with my answers.

The creative process takes time.

I don’t think this is unique to me or to graphic design as it’s something I’ve read about from people doing creative work ranging from fine art, to computer programming to scientific experiments. There is something about moving a project out of the conscious line of fire, and into the subconscious that allows a new perspective and breakthrough creativity.

Whether I’m developing a logo, a book cover concept, or a web site design, the more I allow ideas to percolate in my head, the better the responses. Well, within reason. I’m not saying I need six months to create preliminary web designs, but I do need more than 60 seconds. In fact, I’ve come to recognize there is sweet spot in my creative process that comes with having just enough pressure (often a time deadline) with just enough leeway to allow the concepts to rattle around in my head for a while.

So, if you call me on the phone and ask me for my quick ideas about your new project don’t be disappointed if I’m unable to come up with brilliant ideas on the spot. I hope I can come up with a brilliant idea soon, but give me time.

Get the process rolling

Even mundane tasks such as job estimating and organizing of job files can help me with the process of integrating the information and ideas for a design project. Sometimes I write a formal creative brief, sometimes I do a lot of sketching. Other times, I just do a lot of thinking in the gaps between doing other things. Like sleeping.

Yes, I do often start thinking about design projects just as I drift off to sleep. Then I silently curse you, but you get some of my best design work.

So make sure you allow enough time for the creative process.

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One comment

  1. Jack | June 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Very true :)

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