Understanding your creative process can seem like a monster of a task. Believe me, it took me a few years to figure out how my brain works when designing for clients. But something I learned during this journey was how vital it was to my business for me to understand it. I realized that in order for me to be as efficient as I could be and to make the most money with my time I needed to figure out the depths of my own creative process.
This is the most important piece of my creative process. I learned fairly quickly that my time management of projects dictated how many projects I could handle at once and how long different projects would take me.
When I first started my biz I would start client projects the day the contract was signed and try to bust through it as fast I could. I figured out that just didn’t work for me. Sure, I could get a logo done in a few days or website in a couple weeks but the results weren’t the best they could be. This is when I learned that my brain needs time to think.
I call this phase of my creative process the “Cook Time.” I need time to digest the information I’ve been given and time to just sit on some ideas in my mind and let them “cook.” Sometimes this is few days or a week but I’ve adjusted my process to include this “cook time” because this is where I like to think the magic happens. Now that I know this part of my process is vital to my creativity I can better schedule projects and ultimately make more money with quality work.
Receiving feedback from clients is always nerve wracking no matter what the project is. But something I’ve learned about my creative process is that I need quality feedback. I work better when I have a direction from the client and not just a free-for-all approach.
Since discovering I enjoy feedback, good or bad, I iterate to my clients the value that it has. When I begin working with new clients I’ am now very explicit about the importance of honest feedback for my creative process. Giving feedback can be uncomfortable for clients but I try to encourage it the most I can by reminding them that it helps me help them.
I definetly lacked the knowledge of a workflow when I first started my biz. I stumbled around a bit about the order of my process but I eventually figured it out.
I’m a huge fan of to-do lists and organizing my workflow this way helps me stay on task. I usually have a running list in my head of things that need done for each project but writing them down just seems to really motivate me to get to work.
I tried working different hours of the day to find the best workflow for me and as much as I wish I could be a morning worker, I’m a night owl and work best at night. I can think better when I know that it’s the only thing I have to do because my house is cleaned, my shopping list is checked off and all my other distractions in the day have passed.
Tools & Resources
Having the right tools and resources is important to every person’s creative process. Simply put, you can’t create what you want if you don’t have the tools you need.
As a designer I use several softwares, use different design elements and find inspiration in various places. Graphic designers need quite a bit of tools and resources to achieve what they want.
My top tool is my iMac and second screen. I used to do all my work from a 13 inch MacBook laptop and it was a nightmare. I was constantly minimizing a thousand tabs and having to go back and forth between programs was exhausting and was beginning to make working on projects frustrating. So I finally made the decision to invest in a 27 inch iMac and a second 27 inch Samsung monitor. Yes, my office looks like NASA with the giant screens but I have never worked better, faster and more efficient. Understanding that this was vital to my creative process has been a huge life saver for my sanity.
I’ve never been a fan of forcing creativity. I strongly believe that I create best when I have inspiration or whenever my muse decides to show up. Realistically though I can’t always wait to have that spark of inspiration when working with deadlines and clients.
I get inspired by other great pieces of work. I love studying the industry of graphic design and discovering new styles, designers and tools. It’s so important to my growth to be constantly learning and finding inspiration in others. Sometimes it’s a color, a single line or just the style of design that sparks a little fire in me for whatever project I’m working on.