Amy Barstow

Date published

Aug 26, 2022

When asked to explain how the creative mind works, or at least more specifically, how my creative mind works, I found myself jotting down all the things I try to consider when tackling a creative brief. This is the point at which I realised how chaotic a creative person is in their thinking, jumping from one consideration to another, occasionally forgetting a step that probably should have come before the one I just dotted down.

So, to try to make sense of what goes on in my head and illustrate it in a visual way I created the word map below. Welcome to the chaos that is the creative mind of a designer.

Amy B Skills hour Visual

When it comes to creative problem solving and producing affective design, all aspects should work harmoniously together, which in essence means thinking about everything all at once whilst finding balance and clarity to the work that is produced.

As a creative, I am constantly asking myself interlinking questions:

‘Does the photography style suit the audience?’

‘Have I found the balance between staying true to the brand and creating something new and exciting that will captivate the audience?’

'Is this going to be technically viable when it comes to build?'

Questions, questions, questions. The stream is never ending.

No two creative minds are the same. Each designer will, over time, craft their own specific way of working through trial and error. They will adapt their thinking and processes to suit the brief, finding the most important aspect and centre their thinking around that. This could be the concept, the overarching message, reinforcing the brand position ... or any number of other considerations.

Whereas in another brief, everything might need to support the technical aspects such as accessibility, the designer will constantly be thinking about how the design will be viewed and interacted with. Does the typeface, colour choices, layout and format of the design aid the viewer in their journey.

Now, there is no hard and fast rule for conquering your own creative mind but here are some basic tips for channelling your thoughts when tackling the creative brief in front of you:

  1. Take your time - Don’t dive in head first, allow yourself time to research, explore and play with different ideas. The smallest reference can spark an entire idea but without allowing yourself time to absorb any inspiration you will be working on an empty tank.

  2. Don’t dismiss the ‘non-creatives’ - Every single person around you is a creative thinker, they just may not be able to apply it in the same visual way you can. Chances are, in your life, you know someone who fits into the target audience of the brief, ask them questions, one comment can expand your horizons further than just your own experiences.

  3. Get the basics down - Scamping, doodling, journalling, whatever you want to call it, take pen to paper and play with layouts, shapes, words. Going straight to digital can kill your idea before it’s even been born, you will end up focusing too much on the intricacies of the design before the body has even been formed.

  4. Take a walk - Creative block is real but something as simple as a half an hour walk outside can be the cure. It allows your brain to detox from the problem in front of you and quite often the solution will appear as the fog clears.

Nothing is new in the world of creativity, and as this quote proves there is always someone who can summaries exactly what you want to say in far fewer words than you can. So here it is…

‘Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye’
Dorothy Parker- poet, writer and critic

As a creative thinker you already have the wild mind. Your task now is to find the disciplined eye. Craft your way of thinking, pay keen attention to the details, keep asking questions not only to yourself but those around you and this will be the key to unlocking your own creative chaos.