I picked up this menu from a cute little cafe I found whilst meandering down the cobbled streets of York. This cafe is a little piece of paradise for a designer like myself. Simple, yet undeniably delicious coffee, friendly staff with whom you could chat all day, beautiful ceramics and design books to buy or covert, topped with a sweet homeliness that won't go amiss. Looking forward to my next visit. Thanks Kiosk Project Space
One of the most frustrating struggles designers and artists seem to have, and perhaps one of their greatest paradoxes, is thinking “outside-the-box”. Creatives tend to be born rule-breakers and questioners of convention, yet setting ourselves against the norms every single day becomes quickly exhausting. Yet we all know how mandatory it is to think differently in order to be noticed and to produce great work.
But what does it even mean to think outside that damn box? What is this “box” in the first place? And how can I possibly think so far out of it in a way that’s never been done before? We seem doomed to failure. After all, they say there’s nothing new under the sun (even that saying has been around for two millennia!)
For me, I have to push through my first thoughts on a project or idea in order to get to the good stuff. I often need to really dig deep into my ideas for something valuable to materialise.
Given that I mostly work alone, a method I use is to talk to myself when I’m really stuck on an idea. I know it seems super weird, but it actually works! I ask myself questions out loud and try to answer them. Questions like:
- What can I do to make this project even more memorable?
- Is there a truly meaningful story or idea behind this whole concept?
- If this project was solely my own, how would I go about it?
- Is there another, more interesting way to get the same outcome?
I find the ideas begin to flow once I start asking myself these questions. I’ll write down everything, look for more inspiration, do a bit of research, sometimes voice record my brainstorming - anything to keep momentum.
And then, with a bit of luck, something “wow” will dawn on me, and then the discrete dancing around the room begins…
The most important thing is to get yourself out of your comfort zone. Try talking to your cat (you probably already do) or cactus, or do what I do and run a hot bath and get yabbering. Who knows, if you give it a go, you might actually think of something even more extra-terrestrial than your first idea.
Best of luck!
Want more inspiration? Click on the button below to get a private invite to my "quirky" Pinterest board.
With a love for urban rectangles, I find myself stopping and staring at what others would consider the most mundane things.. let's call them "walkpastables". Would love to know what you think. Am I crazy or do you do this too?
If you’ve had the chance to read through my website intro, you will have noticed my use of the term “happy accidents”. In case you haven't heard this expression before, I’ll give you a quick explanation:
You’ve been sketching in your studio and your pen slips. You make it halfway through a painting and accidentally fumble your brush. You're mocking up some patterns but just knocked over a cup of coffee. You've simply taken a photo with the wrong shutter-speed. But what you thought was a “mistake” actually turns out to be something that enhances the project.
I love this expression, and I like the idea of celebrating the beauty of a natural cock-up. Isn’t it great when we loosen ourselves a little, disregard the rules for a moment and just allow ourselves to create freely? It may sound a bit kooky, but in fact there's good solid science behind using the unexpected, oblique and uncomfortable juxtapositions that accidents introduce into our creative lives.
My challenge to you is this: whatever you’re working on right now - free it up a little, make “mistakes”, loosen your mind, spill the ink, write something silly, do a crazy dance, whatever you need to do to break away from the mechanical and monotonous and let those happy accidents begin.