How Designers Can Boost their Creativity When Work is Slow
No work in the pipeline? It’s a dreadful scenario that freelancers face from time to time. Contracts aren’t guaranteed. Often, they come in waves. Feast or famine is an apt description, even if it is a bit discouraging. Still, it’s not as if freelancers are without options. When paying jobs dry up, there’s work to be done. Positivity in the midst of uncertainty is a byproduct of staying active and striving toward goals. For freelancers struggling to find work, there remain ample opportunities to improve professionally and inspire others. Freelancers must balance seasons of plenty with periods when jobs are few. (Rebecca Lee & Parsing Eye 1. Launch a passion project It’s difficult to design anything from scratch. When it comes to personal design projects, knowing where to start is the hardest part. First, define a purpose and ask questions: What’s the ultimate goal of the project? New clients? Creative industry notoriety? Both? Where will inspiration come from? Other creatives? Different cultures? How can the project be tied to a cause or a community? Is the project meant to demonstrate expertise, or is it a chance to explore an unfamiliar design discipline? How far can experimentation and self-expression be pushed? Such questions bring clarity and focus. When projects have a purpose, they have value and are more likely to be finished. [Read: Why ‘emotional engagement designer’ is the next big career opportunity] With purpose defined, begin research. Read books. Watch videos. Arrange informal interviews. It’s a personal project, so don’t spend countless hours accumulating information. The point is to glean context and fuel ideas. It’s also wise to establish a realistic timeframe. Surprising results can be accomplished over the course of a weekend. For longer projects, create milestones, seek out peer accountability, and share progress shots online. Not convinced that personal projects are worth the effort? Consider an experience I had. I’m a huge fan of the fake UIs that appear in blockbusters like Minority Report and Iron Man. The intricate details and futuristic features are fascinating–even if the functionality is far-fetched. Not long ago, I decided to design my own fictitious interface. After three days, I finished and shared my work online. Less than a week later, I received a message from a sound designer. He asked to complement my work with a track he recorded. The final result far exceeded my expectations. It’s my most watched Vimeo video, and it’s led to real job opportunities. A personal interest plus a few days of work opened one door after another. Passion projects are a great way to blend design skills and personal interests. (Danny Rubyono) 2. Showcase stunning portfolio pieces online A light workload is a perfect opportunity to assemble a portfolio and showcase it online. Where possible, use contextual mockups. Place UI designs on smartphones, landing pages on laptops, and logos on the packaging. There are many free device templates available for download. When work is ready to be seen, don’t hurry to build a website. Instead, find a portfolio platform. Many are free, but not all receive the same amount of traffic. Choose platforms that are proven to provide maximum exposure. Behance is the go-to for top-notch creative talent around the world. » Read More
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