Finding the motivation to design can feel impossible at times. You can stare at a blank screen for hours to absolutely no avail. This feeling of creative block is not only frustrating but it cuts into your valuable time. So, how do we reach beyond that block and get motivated and inspired to design?

How Do I Get Motivated to Create?

Creative block is a very real part of creativity and while there is unfortunately no miracle solution to overcoming it, there are active steps you can take to lessen, avoid, and conquer the block when it strikes.

Research

Sir Isaac Newton once said “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Looking at successful designers’ work can be an incredibly inspiring and motivating activity, and can help direct you towards a strong solution. Have a browse and look at successful designs, pick them apart, and get motivated.

Set a schedule

One of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to creative work is assuming that you need to wait for inspiration and motivation to strike. The truth is though that creativity needs to be scheduled, just like any other work.

James Clear likens creative scheduling to exercise, “If your workout doesn’t have a time when it usually occurs, then each day you’ll wake up thinking, ‘I hope I feel motivated to exercise today.’”

If we don’t schedule creative time, we tend to excuse our inactivity for a lack of inspiration, when in reality inspiration only strikes when we allow it to. So, make time to sit down, work, and create your own motivation.

Start somewhere new

Do you usually start your design by determining your font palette? Consider approaching things from a different angle, like determining a color palette first instead and building your design up from there.

Switch up your workflow

Similarly to the previous point, by switching things up you can restart your brain and get a new flow of thinking. Try out a different medium, different style, different approach, even a different work environment and embrace the change in routine.

A great suggestion of a way to switch up your workflow that is tried and tested (both personally and by many other people) is using the Pomodoro method. I personally use this when I’m working on a hefty project. The Pomodoro Technique breaks up your work day into short sprints with timed breaks in between. If this sounds appealing to you, give it a go the next time you feel creatively blocked.

Simplify

Occam’s razor taught us that the simplest answer is often the correct one and this school of thought can be applied to design. Try to simplify your problem, your visuals, or your idea in some way and see if it helps clarify and/or strengthen your design.

To simplify your visuals, simply try to subtract. Reduce body copy length if possible, reduce the amount of elements you use, the amount of colors, increase the amount of white space used, etc.

To simplify your problem or idea, look for the root. Ask yourself what the main part of the problem/idea is, the fundamental element that holds it together. Oftentimes we get bogged down in the extraneous details, but by identifying the root of the problem, we can gain better clarity.

See your ideas through

Oftentimes we can ignore an idea that has a lot of potential by simply not giving it the time of day. If you have a somewhat intriguing idea that you’re not 100% sure about, by allowing yourself the time to think it through, refine it, and test it out, you can unlock some really creative things. In short, try not to abandon any intriguing ideas or attempts too early on if they don’t immediately work for you.Where to Look For Inspiration

Color

A fantastic (and very easy) way to build quick and beautiful color palettes is to find images with a pleasing palette and sampling colors directly from that image.

Don’t have the time or patience to do it for yourself? Fear not, we’ve compiled 100 color palettes using this method and have given you some tips on how to put them to use.

Some other fantastic resources for color inspiration are:

Type

It’s easy to feel uninspired with type when you’re just scrolling through the same old library of fonts every day. Instead, get inspiration from everywhere, from handcrafted typography, to advertisement display type.

Get adventurous with your type, let it become the focal graphic element of your design in place of a fancy graphic or photograph.

Imagery

Getting your hands on the perfect image for your design can sometimes feel impossible, particularly if you limit yourself to images you shoot yourself. Instead, consider stock photography.

Before you recoil, stock photography doesn’t have to mean awkward, expensive, low quality photos anymore. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite. Check out our list of 73 sites where you can find beautiful (and often free) stock images to use for your next project. You never know, finding the right image might get you on track to the right design.

What Do I Create?

This is one of the most common questions that halts people in their design process. What exactly am I meant to be creating?

Depending on what your medium and communication are, there is a whole host of different methods and types of content for you to create.

Designing for social media? Be sure to have a look at this infographic and breakdown of the 10 types of visual content your brand should be creating.

Inspiration Without Plagiarism

One of the best ways to get motivated and inspired to design is to look at current successful design examples. But, a very easy trap to fall into while doing this is copying.

Finding one or two examples of designs or concepts you love and recreating them can easily turn into plagiarism – something that benefits neither the original creator nor yourself. In plagiarising or reappropriating someone else’s design works, you are simply creating an imitation of their idea, not creating a new idea that is customised to suit your design.

Instead, as author of Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon writes, “Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style.”

Instead of directly grafting a typographical style or composition from one design onto your own, take a moment to ask “Why is this so effective? Why do I want to steal it?”

It could be the way they have scaled the typefaces that appeals to you, rather than the exact choice of typefaces, or the heavy amount of whitespace used in the composition that you appreciate more than the composition as a whole. Try to become aware of why you find certain designs effective and apply that course of thinking to your design.

Today’s Task

Create a moodboard in Canva. Moodboards give us a single cohesive visual that captures the look and feel of our desired design. Look for examples of designs, images, photos, fonts, etc. that capture the mood, feel, and aesthetic that you want to hone in for your design and collage them together.

Image credits: Aoioro Studio, Vicki Turner, Sean Heisler, George Bokhua, Lawerta, Swell & Grand

Check out this sample moodboard we have put together in Canva. By assembling samples of colors that you like, fonts combinations you admire, and designs that capture your desired effect, you can create your own unique vision by drawing inspiration from multiple sources, not just the one.