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How to Overcome Creative Block in Design

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As a professional designer with over twenty years of experience, I have worked on various design projects including UX/UI, motion, branding, web design, mobile apps, and creative coding. Recently, I have been focusing on font design. Design is a journey filled with self-doubt and criticism, but also moments of pride. As designers, our goal is to create impactful and captivating work. If you find yourself stuck in your design work, here are three strategies that can help breathe new life into your creativity.

1. Give Yourself Time

Working as a designer often means tight deadlines and a fast-paced environment. However, it is important not to underestimate the value of stepping away from your work and coming back to it later. Taking a break allows you to see your work with fresh eyes and notice flaws or areas for improvement that you may have missed before. Additionally, the time spent away from your work is when your mind is free to think creatively and make connections. Some of the best ideas come when you are in a state of transition, such as showering or driving.

I had a personal experience with “time away” while working on my font project, Peasy. After a two-and-a-half-year break from the project, I noticed many details that I wanted to change. Ideas that seemed quirky and fun initially became strange and clunky. This motivated me to put in the necessary work to improve and create a typeface that I’m proud of.

2. Change Your Context

In digital design, we often switch between different contexts while working on our designs. This includes zooming in and out to focus on details or get an overview of the entire design. Creating working prototypes and testing them on different devices can also provide new perspectives. Additionally, reviewing your work in different settings, such as on a big screen or printed out, can reveal new insights and inconsistencies.

In type design, it is important to consider the context in which your typeface will be used. Whether it’s in words, headlines, or paragraphs, you need to examine how the curves and shapes work together at different zoom levels. Reversing glyphs and checking for balance is also crucial. Printing out proofs at high resolution allows you to evaluate the overall design and its compatibility with different settings.

3. Seek Feedback

Design can often feel like a solitary endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Reach out to friends and colleagues for feedback and critique. Ask them to walk through your designs and share their thoughts. Collaborative tools like Figma can facilitate this process. Outside perspectives can provide valuable insights and help identify areas for improvement that you may have missed.

I have found the type design community to be incredibly generous in terms of offering feedback and support. When working on Peasy, I received valuable input from friends and colleagues through email, Zoom sessions, and marked-up PDFs.

When seeking feedback, be open to both praise and constructive criticism. Listen to what others have to say and consider their perspectives. Feedback is a powerful tool for growth and improvement. Don’t hesitate to reach out to people you trust for their honest advice.

When you’re feeling stuck in your design work, remember these three strategies: give yourself time, change your context, and seek feedback. Incorporating these practices into your creative process will elevate your design work and allow you to reach new levels of achievement.

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