John Storey of bottlegreen* is an experienced designer I've known for several years. I tweeted him recently and asked if he'd like to contribute a designer's perspective to Brainzooming. Happily, he agreed and shares his personal approach today on finding inspiration:
Where do you find your inspiration?
Much ado has been made on this subject. Supposedly tried and true methods (work, work more, and if still not enough...work harder) may get you there sometimes, but not likely, and definitely not every time. I’ve found that usually when I stop thinking about a solution, it happens. Weird? Nah, I’ve gotten used to it, and it really works! Ha, ha...I know...doesn’t everybody’s method “really work?”
After carefully reading/digesting all the available materials (e.g. creative brief, company manifesto, notes from the marketing director’s child), I usually go mow the lawn, take a walk, or go to my favorite coffee shop to people watch and find a way to relax. My brain then has a chance to catch up with all the information I’ve taken in and can really wrap around the content. I can then think holistically about the project versus only on how I’m going to make this 4-panel brochure different than all other 4-panel brochures I’ve worked on in the past.
If you’re thinking conceptually and allow yourself to “drift,” you can figure out the logistics later. Often you’ll also come up with an alternative production technique that will actually separate this piece from all of the others too. When you allow yourself to be in the consumer’s point-of-view (instead of your heady point-of-view), it can produce very results-oriented work.
It’s also handy to have access to pen and paper to quickly sketch or write an idea when it hits (although your partner might not fully appreciate your little notebooks all over the house, car, bedside, etc.). Sketch quickly, just jotting down the raw ideas...then revisit and explore/refine. When inspiration strikes, you’ll feel it in your bones. It’s quite a rush...and you’ll fill pages quickly so keep going as long as you can in one sitting.
So, go on...relax and do something for yourself or your family – cook dinner, smell the flowers, play with your children – and you’ll see...just when you least expect it...when you actually stop thinking of a solution...BAM! Flood gates will open, barriers will cease to exist, and the creativity will flow.
At least that’s how it works for me. Tried and true. - John Storey