Top tips on how to think creatively

Photograph of a bottle of whisky. Creative photography

It is always important to give the client what they want, but also going the extra mile and giving them something that they didn’t expect they wanted is where the real creative thinking comes in.


We call ourselves creatives and we want to work creatively but as many creatives know it is not a case of sitting down and waiting for ideas to pop up, those ideas can be very elusive and not willing to show themselves on demand. No amount of brain storming sessions and staring at websites are going to make them flow in perpetuity.


Ideas tend to come like busses, all at once, then periods where we have the equivalent to writers block where any ideas are hiding very well and nothing new seems to be coming up. This happens to everyone and there are a few good things you can do to encourage the ideas to flow again. I hope by reading this article you will find some help in cultivating your creative thinking, and be able to put a plan in place to keep those great ideas coming in.


When a client gives me a brief it may be so limited that I have to find out more details on what they need, their constraints and desires, more about the brand, where the images are to be used, who are their customers, and usually a host of other questions.


Sometimes the client will supply existing images for reference or if it is an agency some scamps (sketches / visuals), its my task to convert these into imagery that the client will love. With the extra information I can then visualise how the imagery will look, doing my own sketches if none were supplied to begin with.


Ways to get those ideas rolling in are different for everyone but here are some that can help with the process.


1. Leave the desk and do something different, get some fresh air and exercise, go for a walk, take some time out and go cycling. Doesn’t have to be all day, just 30 minutes can work wonders improving brain function as well as your fitness. Exercise like walking benefits creative brainstorming and enhances unconventional thinking.


2. Read a book, novel, factual, art book, your choice. I have a selection of books in the studio that I occasionally page through to break up a thought process.


3. Listen to some music, studies have found a moderate level of ambient noise increases creativity. This is because the music will cause a level of disruption in out thought processes and encourages abstract thinking. Apparently a loudness of about 70 decibels is good, although I don’t expect you to have a sound meter at hand….


4. Draw something or even do some doodling. I like to use a big layout pad and soft (2B or 4B) pencils. Then possibly on the computer with Photoshop and some colour, a bit like the old Magic Marker scamps looked like.


5. Mindful observation. When you are out and about observe the world around you, rather than walking down the road looking at your phone look around you, walk slowly, look closely and stop, look up, look down, you will see things that most people hardly ever notice. If you like take a snap with your phone for reference.


6. Bookmark images and interesting ideas you have seen on line. I bookmark images on Instagram so I can go back to them later to help with ideas.


7. Go and make a coffee of cup of tea or have a healthy snack like some fruit, or dark chocolate (I like over 95% and espresso).


8. Social interaction with your mates. Many a time have I discussed in the pub my work with creative friends. Added bonus drinking beer as well.


9. Don’t be sacred of failure, I often have a load of ideas that end up in the bin but it doesn’t mean that you have failed, if anything it shows that you are good at ideas.


10. Ideas can come at the most unexpected times, take a note book around with you just in case you need to jot some down, even have one by your bedside if you wake in the nigh with your brain buzzing…

I’m sure that there are more ways to increase your creativity that you will find but I hope this has been of some help to you.


If you need any creative thinking for your next project contact me and I’ll do my best to help.