Image: Anita Patterson @ morguefile.com
"And? What do you do for a living?"
"I am a Graphic Designer"
"Oh, how interesting. You must be someone with a lot of ideas!"
This is a typical reply I get when I tell what I do for a living.Yes, I have to have a lot of ideas – but it's not as if I just pull them out of the hat. Or the drawer.
The design process starts with a briefing and a discussion with the client about the product or service he wants to sell. I usually hand out a questionnaire to get all the information I need to create the best result possible.
Back at my desk I start with mindmapping and scribbling, the computer comes much later. First I have to get ideas. The slightly chaotic part.
How do you get ideas? Through inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere. On the net, in magazines, in books and outside the house .. libraries, museums, street advertising, exhibitions, shopfronts, movies ... use all your senses, not just your eyes.
Often it will become necessary for you to think outside the square – why not look at a children's picture book to get inspired when you have to create a 68 page catalogue for power tools (Been there. Twice.)
Have a nice coffee in a street café and watch people when you need an idea for a shoe commercial (I will be there soon).
Play with children. Go to talks. Listen to the radio. Write down everything that comes to your mind. Wherever you are. I get my best ideas under the shower (what a cliché), on the train, lying on the beach and looking into the sky. At night before falling asleep.
Creative people are hunters and collectors. Clippings, driftwood, photos, stories - anything can lead you towards an idea.
The harder part is then to sort through the chaos, to eliminate ideas or to develop them into something more feasible. Store ideas which are not working right now for later projects.
You might have to put away a lot of ideas. You will have to take the client's amendments on board and make sure the result is working for the product and the client.
As Edison said: "Creativity is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration"
But creativity is something that can be learned and most of the time it's great fun.