As a designer, receiving a new creative brief is both exciting and a little overwhelming at first! Something that I’ve learned during my time at Ultimate is not to be afraid of scribbling down ideas that may initially seem ‘silly’! These ideas, no matter how silly or even irrelevant they might seem at first, can often put you on the path to creating something special. Allowing the mind to flow when jotting down ideas that crop up during a brainstorming session is one of the key things to consider when it comes to preventing, managing and combatting a creative block.  


No project can begin with jumping straight in - it’s important to do some research, whether that’s online, in a book or simply by exploring your surroundings. As a younger designer, I might have (at times!) tried to cut out this research process, but I now know that it’s the most crucial part that simply cannot be missed out or rushed.


1. Research, Research, Research! 

Moodboards are always a great way to aid describing and visually expressing how your project could come together, even before you start putting pen to paper. The research phase can be the most exciting, yet challenging part of the design process, as you seek to drum up inspiration and overcome any creative blocks. It’s also crucial to know when to move onto the next phase of the design process, and when to stop the endless Pinterest scrolls (as sometimes this is when you run the risk of procrastinating…) As a younger designer, I found it difficult to assess exactly when to move onto the designing phase of the project. I find time restrictions (on top of the deadline!) can be extremely useful here. 


2. Stay On Task

All briefs are different, and each one is unique. Some briefs offer minimal creative freedom while others allow for more innovation and originality. Within the design team, it’s always exciting when you get presented with a brief that will allow you to stretch those creative muscles to their limit! Of course, this kind of brief can also be the most challenging, but ultimately, myself and my fellow designers are all in the design world to keep testing ourselves and continuously develop and refine our skills. Personally, I find setting myself restrictions and rules to stick to can aid the creative design process (although it sounds counter-productive!) and help keep me focused and on track.


 For example, on a recent project, a triangle formed an important part of the client’s concept visual. In terms of the brand positioning of the client, it had been decided that three points of the triangle had symbolic meaning for the client’s three core values. Maintaining this rule of three allowed me to adopt the method of summarising in three words, any website call-to-actions had three words and so on. Adopting this method has helped me particularly with a loose brief or when there is a strict set deadline or a timescale you have to work with.


3. Take A Break! 

Another thing I’ve learnt from my career so far is to not be afraid to step away from a project. This could be going for a walk, talking through a concept or idea with someone for clarity or even just listening to music to help myself get in the zone. I’ve found that the worst thing you can do is to try to force creativity or ideas – getting yourself in the right headspace will allow the concepts and ideas to flood in more easily. I’ve also become more accepting of the fact that ideas might come to you when you’re relaxing or going about everyday life, and when they do, you should embrace them! 


Throughout the creative process, we still need to always keep our deadlines in mind. The pressure that’s associated with a deadline can be a healthy thing, which keeps you motivated and dedicated, as well as driven to provide a vision and outcome that meets and exceeds the client’s expectations in time.


4. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work 

I’ve been working in the design industry for around two and a half years, and I’m amazed and proud of the progress and journey I’ve come on in that short amount of time. One important thing I’ve learnt during my time as a designer is how important the team around you are, no matter your skill level or experience. Another aspect of the job which I would tell my younger design self is to find a team that will both elevate you and support you, whilst enabling you to make great creative strides yourself. At Ultimate, the design team are incredible in how much they unite together to get the job done and surpass the expectations of the client. Most importantly, they look out for one another and bounce creative ideas off each other, in order to create something that takes a design to the next level.

There you have it - a few tips to my younger design self. Of course, on a serious note, designers are always growing, changing and learning new approaches and new methods of trying things (sometimes even figuring out new technology). At Ultimate, we are always trying to learn new things from one another and continuously improve our ways of working - so by this time next year I’m sure there will be a whole lot more to add to this list! 

Written by Heather Owens December of 2019