In any career, creativity plays a role. Whether you’re a painter or a banker, creative problem solving and thinking out of the box is essential to growing and achieving your career goals. However, sometimes finding the inspiration to be creative is easier said than done.

As a designer, I feel as if I’m always on the hunt for my next source of inspiration. From daily inspirations to entire seasonal directions, sometimes it can be obvious while other times it can feel like I spin in circles with little progress to show for my hours of thought.

So here are a few of my tips on finding inspiration when it seems to be anywhere but where you need it:

1. Have a goal

It’s easier for the mind to grip onto inspirational elements when you have some type of end goal. The goal typically comes from some type of problem, whether it’s a new problem or an evolution of a solution you’ve already found. For me these problems and solutions typically involve the evolution of a product. However they can find their way into any aspect of your career where you can set achievable goals.

For example, maybe you want to find a solution for better time management, or connect more organically with female consumers. Your goal can be as broad or as specific as you see fit. I find the broader I keep my goals the easier it is for me to find inspirational paths to achieve said goal.

2. Look in all the right & wrong places

Keeping your pool of inspiration deep is key. Looking for inspiration in places you expect to find it can be a good place to start, but the real gems come from diving into “wrong” places. For example, when looking for inspiration for footwear product, yes, sometimes I take a peek at what’s on the market but my best inspiration doesn’t come from a shoe store.

The golden ideas arise from places you wouldn’t expect: let’s say I’m working on a cushioned running shoe, I might look at animals, furniture, automobiles, anatomy, etc. for functional inspiration on how other things in the world interpret “cushioning”.

3. Grab onto any and every spark

Remember in grade school when the teacher used to say, “No question is a stupid question?” Well, when it comes to inspiration hunting, the same mindset applies.

Take note of any hint of an idea. While it may not be your final solution, it can be a good stepping stone in creating a line of useful thoughts.

4. Touch things

Having physical takeaways or little memorabilia from your inspiration hunt allows you to more easily recall what inspired you at that moment and why it resonated with your goals. When you go inspiration hunting you most likely will leave that session feeling overwhelmed, but excited. Hopefully you saw a lot but might not be sure how and what you will be able to apply to achieve your goal. When you have physical articles to help you catalogue your search you can easily refer back to your initial thoughts and possibly combine them with future findings.

A random item like this little plastic wrestler can not only spark your creativity, but also remind you of your brainwave. ©Ryan McGuire

5. Talk to people

This is the final box I check when on a pursuit for inspiration. Everyone gains inspiration from different sources, so discussing your findings with others can help you see things differently.

Even more importantly: people are inspiring. Some of the best nuggets of inspiration come from a small word of advice, a memory or even a great story from someone you least expected. Never discount the power of collaboration!

What approach do you take to overcoming a creativity block?

TAKE A DEEP DIVE INTO OUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREATIVITY

Creativity requires focus, passion and above all, practice- take it from those who know.

Unleash Your Inner Creator
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by Aaron Robinson 28.07.2016
Finally, someone who understands me! No but really, thank you Emily for sharing this article and breaking down your process into a refreshing glass of ice water...with lemon.

Answer to Final Question:
When frustrations mount and I've hit a creative wall, the best thing that I've done to break this up is to "Mess Things Up." A lot of the time before I start a project, I have a grand idea of what I want it to be in the end and lose sight of the process. By messing things up I allow myself to initiate a creative behavior and not worry about the result. Typically, I will find discarded wood in the neighborhood, bring out my spray cans and go to town. Whatever it takes to keep the flow going. I'll throw dirt onto the wet paint, use leaves as stencils, pick an orange and squeeze its juice on it...anything. When I mess things up, I become liberated from stagnant energy, false expectations, and begin to think of NEW possibilities.

Cheers GPA!


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by NICK SHIN Aaron Robinson 21.09.2016
Very useful information for an inspiration hunter like myself.
Appreciated~
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Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor NICK SHIN 21.09.2016
Hi Nick,

thanks for your comment.
If you call yourself an 'inspiration hunter', I'm sure you can share some additional tricks on how to find inspiration/put yourself in the creative zone?! Feel free to share your tips with us.
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Nina
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by Elly Kapyela 10.08.2016
Helpful article..!

There are times we do need those five steps to MOVE ON..!
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