The Science of Creativity
By Jenny Warner. Filed in Web Design
Even though I was not creative back then, it does not stop me from wondering, am I really creative? Why I am not like other designers who are a blend of creative juices where ideas flowing in and out as easy as breathing?
To tell you frankly, there is actually no reason but a statement that explains it all. Creative means a quality that you put into any activity not only in website design, but also cooking, dancing, singing, or anything at all. Your attitude and approach you follow is your creative instinct. Creativity should be an untamed river that does not run in a streamline flow and it should not be limited. And there is no doubt to the fact that a creative mind is half mania.
"Every day is an opportunity to be creative – the canvas is your mind, the brushes and colours are your thoughts and feelings, the panorama is your story, the complete picture is a work of art called…" (Innerspace)
Dispelling the Myths
Creativity cannot be learned for sure. We are born with creativity within ourselves and one would be utter misinformed if he/she thinks that creativity is something that can be imbibed. This is the major myth that surrounds every individual.
"It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life." (Barthold Georg Niebuhr)
Creativity accompanies new remarkable ideas and risks. Try something original and be prepared to face the challenges. Scott Adams, a cartoonist has put it right, "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
Creativity can never be achieved by imitations, and what is already been introduced. There is nothing ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in a creative piece of work however It is more than random and lastly, there is no place for logic. It should be part of your everyday life because the more curious you are in your everyday life, the better you get to produce refreshing ideas and products.
Being a critique of your own is the best practice, but somehow it proved to be harmful if you evaluate your work excessively. It will result you losing your initiate direction and eventually everything goes straight into the dump because anything safe is not interesting.
"Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun." (Mary Lou Cook)
Kick Start Your Creativity
There is some or loads of creativity within us and to know which level you are, the key is to unleash the hidden genius within you as in your specialty. Some discover it soon, and some take ages and might not discover one. This is the core session in this article. With great efforts I incorporate everything that should help you bring out those creative instincts.
The first and the foremost way will be thinking positive. If you already have a pre-conceived notion that you cannot come up with something creative in your design, you are doomed… you won’t be able to. Creativity, in my belief is a product that uses its surroundings and it is your senses and instinct amongst the contributing factors that kick start the creative drive.
Being a web designer is of course, is a work of inspiration. Environment plays an important role such as relaxing chair, good music, nice ambiance, with a lot of inspirational stuff like magazines, junkyard mails, books, boxes, decor, or whatever that surrounds the area may act as the props to develop and nourish creativity at each and every stance in your project.
Taking inspiration is another thing, sustaining the level of positivity brings up new ideas but at the same time, directing your ideas towards a specific goal. Identifying your thought whether it is goal-oriented then make a choice amongst the thoughts that directly or indirectly leads to the goal.
Creativity is not something that comes into practice by just swaying a magic wand. It is also a product of using different techniques regularly to train creative thinking in your day to day life and making it a habit. Make a storehouse of all your creative ideas. You never know when you may get the chance to incorporate them somewhere in your new project. Get a hold on the habit of jotting down the points and writing them down anywhere you want to because creativity often occur when you least expect it.
Unlock your brain cells and let your mind wander the world of imagination. Do not put limitations in the process of creating new ideas. Mind is an incredible thinking machine that can come up with a lot of incredible ideas that you would not have thought of. So, just let it maneuver its way. The next important step that must not to be ignored is that never suppress any creative idea if you think it might fit somewhere in your project. If you put it into the reject list and only later you realized it would have fit into a particular page, a huge loss ison your part my friend, for the same idea will never knocks one’s doors twice.
"Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging." (Joseph Campbell)
Considering the validity of the above quote, a challenge drives us crazy and if a designer is bombarded with new and refreshing challenges each and every week or once in a fortnight then, it may to bear good results.
"What a man really wants is creative challenge with sufficient skills to bring him within the reach of success so that he may have the expanding joy of achievement." (Fay B. Nash)
Accompanying every other act with a reward is another psychological technique that would act as a booster in increasing the level of confidence and as a motivating factor in coming up with new ideas.
Now, that we have covered the general tips to give a boost to your creativity, its time to focus on web designers because most of the readers of this post would be web designers. Since the topic talks about creativity as a science, there ought to be a well defined process and strategy towards the same. Therefore, the exercises that would help you keep track of your creative instincts and come up with lots of creativity is listed as below:
1. Inspirational Grounds
It is a part of every designer’s habit that he/she spends time online surfing the Internet if he/she could find something or other inspirations. Our world of Internet is flooded with a lot of stuff such as:
- CSS galleries (The Best Designs, CSS Mania, PagesOnline.It, NetDriver.net, CSSZenGarden.com, Artzmania, Iconbuffet.com, threadless.com and more)
- Interior designs,
Book covers, posters and the billboards that one comes across as a part of the daily routine tend to be the major sources of inspiration.
Nature is, by far the most outstanding medium for drawing out inspiration.
2. Get hold of a Paper and a Pencil
There must t be a lot of questions arising in your mind about the point that mention pencil and a paper in a designer’s context when everybody is acquainted with Photoshop. There is no denying to the fact that within every designer, there is an artist and sketching is not everybody’s cup of tea, but paper gives you the liberty to create anything and is a reliable source of inspiration too. What’s next if sketching is not your style? Try mapping. Taking notes for everything:
- The target audience,
- The real message
- Any special instructions?
The key idea is to keep asking until and unless you get all the answers to be able to start the process. Every human being has a different idea and separate ways of perceiving things. To be able to come up with a solid creative idea, you will need a base. Mapping down each and every requirement of the project is essential and the more you pen it down, the easier it is for you to deal with it.
Always remember that "there is always a better way." Curiosity and the instinct to come up with new and refreshing ideas have always helped in keeping the mind agile. In every project, there is always a room for improvements. Brushing up your Photoshop and creative skills will be a plus. There are a lot of design articles and posts that you can easily find on the Internet explaining the new techniques and a whole set of creative ideas from the pioneers of web industry.
4. Experiment with Colours
The web design industry has always laid a lot of importance when it comes to colors, and their use in the designing a website. The use of appropriate and fantastic colours adds a meaning to the design. For instance, vibrant red, yellow and orange color scheme is used for a lot of eating joints, for example McDonald, Burger King, Pizza Hut because these colors stimulate hungers.
Try and use innovative color schemes to your website and this will definitely add a different touch to your website design.
"Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature." (Cicero Roman)
If you want to experiment with unique color scheme, then, leave your system and step out to experience a whole new world of colors. One of the best and the most accessible areas where you can get inspiration are:
- Book store
- Ice cream parlors
- Flower shops
- Garbage… Yes, in the dump.
- Comic books
- Album and old cassette covers
5.Typography, and the Background
Gone are those days when typography used to be the play of print media.
"You cannot understand typography and typefaces without knowledge and you can’t keep that knowledge for only yourself. Type design is a cultural act, not just a few lines of data in the corner of a hard disk." (Jean François Porchez)
Typography has always maintained a special place for our designers and there are limitless typefaces that you can experiment with. Again, selecting the right background that can completely merge with the basic design and the theme of the website is very important for a designer. The interior designs can be a lot of help to the designer. A very subtle approach would be an ease in selecting a background that does not overshadow the main eye of the website.
Too much of everything is harmful
Science has its own pros and cons and since we have defined creativity as a science, therefore, it has become mandatory to equip you with the same. Once Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be… The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."
There is no doubt that we have a pool of creative web designers, but the excess of everything is bad. In order to stuff in a lot of creativity, you may try out different ideas in a project, and not organizing your direction will lead to horrifying disaster. It is harmful not only to the project, but your mind as well. When a mind is cluttered, it will not be focus and this is when we hear "uh-oh".
There are a lot of instances especially in the web designers’ arena that they love to work in isolation, and this is not a good enough approach anymore. Creativity is born of the combined efforts of a designers’ mind, the project the designer is working upon, and the inspirations he/she seeks for. Most of the designers hate sharing ideas and the idea of sharing makes their brain bleeds. Again, bad choice mate. In the long run, it would result in a walls of limited ideas. Over a period of long continuous hours and years of working in isolation, one tends to lose that creative instinct.
Last but not the least, you should remember this fact that you being a web designer cannot afford to shut doors for the outside world and interactions as it would prove harmful to you in the long run, as you have an endless stream of projects in your way, and they would require the blend of your creative, active and healthy mind.
Editor’s note: This post is written by Jenny Warner for Hongkiat.com. Jenny works for PixelCrayons.com, a creative web design and development agency that specializes in custom web design & development, PSD to HTML, CMS & E-Commerce solutions.