No. 27 | My Creative Process In 5 Steps
The creative process can be such an ambiguous thing. And because I am a type-A design nerd with the need to organize everything, I’ve been researching tips and strategies for making my creative process more efficient. Organizing my process not only makes my little nerd heart happy but it has also helped me put my work into perspective and makes tackling big projects less overwhelming. It also helps me stay organized when I’m working on multiple things at one time. After lots of experimentation, I think I’ve come to a pretty solid routine. Here’s my 5-steps process, hopefully it helps you as you take a look at your own creative process!
Step 1: Relation
Creative projects should begin and end with people in mind. Anything creative always starts off with someone having an idea or needing to solve a problem he or she sees in the world. It all starts with the email from a potential design client asking if you can help with a layout project, the friend asking if you want to sing background vocals on their track, or the boss saying they have a last-minute presentation that needs to be made for the board meeting in an hour. However you’re approached to start a creative project, keep the people factors in mind. Establish good relations with your creative partners and clients. Create a safe space and set some ground rules for working together. Get to know each other and the whole process will be a lot easier and more fun.
Step 2: Intention
After you get to know the people involved in your project, set an intention. This is the goal, the mission, the purpose behind the creative thing you are making. This intention will be your north star. It will inform your creative decisions and keep your team on the same page. This intention will set the tone for your project. An intention could look different for different projects. Maybe it’s the Creative Brief. Maybe it’s a sketch drawn out on a napkin or a song title or a message you’re trying to get across. Whatever your intention looks like, make sure you keep it in the forefront of your mind as you create. If it needs to be re-evaluated midway through the project, that’s totally fine. Just make sure you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost in the creative abyss.
Step 3: Exploration
This is my favorite part of the creative process. It’s the online research, the mood board creation, the sketches, the imagining and brainstorming. Anything goes at this stage. Your exploration sessions should be free thinking and full of “bad” ideas. The effectiveness of your exploration will be determined by how well you laid the foundation in the first two steps. The best explorations I’ve been a part of have had solid intentions in groups where I felt safe to contribute without fear of judgment. If you know where you’re going and who you’re going with, your exploration will take you to new places in your creativity.
Step 4: Perspiration
Now comes the hard work. Usually after exploring ideas for a few rounds, I narrow down my ideas to three or four of the best ones and make them. In my design process, this means locking down a few logo sketches and actually building them in Adobe Illustrator. After the initial creation, I share them for feedback. Then I make tweaks. Then comes more feedback. Then more editing. And the cycle continues until the team says, “yes, this is good to go!” This step can be grueling and can feel like a ton of work. But this is the process of making something from nothing — it’s why most of us are attracted to creative endeavors in the first place.
Step 5: Celebration
Finish your project strong! This step can be easily missed in the rush to start another project but it’s oh-so-important. Celebrating your work helps you appreciate what you did well and evaluate what you need to do better next time. So take a minute and bask in the beauty of what you worked so hard to make. Share your project with friends and family. Post it online. Treat yourself. Then take your files and archive them. Put everything away, check all the boxes, and feel the satisfaction of a job well done.
Until next time,