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There are times when I, as a designer, encounter a creative block. In fact, this happens almost on a daily basis. I often don’t feel very creative. But, creativity is more than random bolts of inspiration or feelings. Solutions that bust our current creative block are all around us, if we look closely.

Finding originality in unnoticed details

Every day – even every minute – we are inundated with images and ads. They bloat Facebook feeds, display on web pages, shout from TV commercials, and consume half of our magazines. We are constantly barraged with designed media, and often stop noticing. It’s just another ad. But we can learn and be inspired by these if we look more closely. Take a step back and look at how the ad was created, consider why the creator chose to crop it that way, or paired that font with a different one, or what story it tells. Most importantly, was it effective? Looking at the media around us with a new purpose allows us to glean meaning from something we normally ignore.

Marketing Ads

Everything we look at has been designed by someone – from the obvious – a giant billboard, to the ignored items – a napkin or grocery store product packaging. Someone had a reason for designing it that way, using particular words and specific colors. Even if it’s not ground-breaking design, if you’re paying attention, there’s something you can learn.

Finding inspiration though teammates

The team you work with can be a great source of inspiration. Not only can they share things that inspire them, but their unique approach or style can show a new way of solving a problem. Their experiences, insights, and perspectives are often different than yours, and those differences are opportunities for inspiration.

Check out my co-worker’s imaginative 100 Day Project.

Finding creativity by hard work and repetition

Sometimes creativity strikes from out of nowhere; an idea pops in your head that you run with. But more often, it involves exploring many options until you stumble across something that works. The unfortunate truth is that creativity takes discipline. You’re going to have a lot of crummy designs or ideas, and that’s ok. Work through them, discard them, and move on. The process gets you to a more creative solution.


Whether you’re a writer or designer, work in communications, marketing, or for a non-profit, we all need to overcome creative blocks at times. Finding a way around is important to keep moving forward and continue to be excited about your vocation. Using the people around us to show us new approaches, paying attention to the overlooked details in our lives, and working though the frustration of failed attempts helps to surmount the creative blocks that stand in our way. The more we do, the better we’ll get at it, and the more we are able to be creative and help inspire those around us.

Josh Cutherell Photo
Josh Cutherell
Josh enjoys getting into the weeds of design - from small user interactions to the perfect font pairing - and strives to unite beauty and functionality.