I firmly believe that each of us were put onto this Earth to deposit something into this world that will improve it. We each have the potential to do something, create something for the betterment of others. The indescribable uniqueness of you is the special sauce, that secret ingredient that we all benefit from seeing expressed. This is your mission. This is our mission.
To properly execute a strategy you need to know what you want to accomplish. In my humble opinion, creating with purpose is essential to a fulfilling life. Regardless of what you are creating, you need to be aware and constantly evaluating why you’re doing it. What do you want to accomplish? This past weekend, three words came to mind and I wrote them down. I want to accomplish these three things with my work and content.
Teach. Inspire. Reveal.
I want to teach what I learn as I learn it. I believe in pouring into others as I am being poured into. Being a person with expertise means having the power to help others who want to do what you do. I want to be seen as a resource for aspiring designers as well as potential clients.
I want to inspire through the work that I share. I cherish the ability and the opportunity to be a catalyst for someone else to create. My wish for everyone is to achieve the reality of their creative potential. Sometimes that takes seeing someone else doing what you want to do. I follow numerous graphic designers who inspire me on a daily basis. I would love to one day be seen as an inspiration to someone who sees my content.
I want to reveal the process behind the work I do as a way to help people gain understanding. People who aren’t even in the design space seem to enjoy my content. They like the visual concepts and content I post on my social media. They like seeing the behind-the-scenes of what I do. That behind-the-scenes content contextualizes my designs and serves as teachable opportunities.
Through this blog, my video series, my designs, and more, I want to be an advocate for creativity. I want to do as much as possible with the skillset, resources, and opportunities I’ve been blessed with.
There is a great value to inspiration. Inspiration makes you feel something. It influences you. It stimulates you to do something creative. It’s the spark that can ignite an ever burning flame. The need for inspiration is real. However, you need not limit your sources of inspiration.
One of the sources can be and should be real life.
No matter your area of expertise, getting outside for inspiration provides you with a fresh view. As a graphic designer, of course I am inspired by the outstanding work I see from the designers I follow. I’m also inspired by the work I see out and about. I’m inspired by people, nature, scenery, etc. For example, let’s say you’re trying to design a brand identity for a city or town. You’ll want to look at other municipal branding projects to see what other cities have done. But the best way to get started is to take in the city itself. Take photos of the landmarks. Talk to the citizens. Walk around and get a feel for the city. The inspiration is around you. When trying to capture a specific locale, you need to experience it and know the nature of the scene. That will allow you create the symbols/icons you need.
Looking at other similar logos can be inspiring but just doing that is limiting. Taking in the real life outside live and through photos challenges you to interpret in an original way. Capture the originality of your own perspective. There are a lot of tigers, panthers, lions, etc. in the world of sports. The reason why there’s such a variety of designs is because each designer has captured a unique perspective of the animal through photo references. A tiger is a tiger, but what you pull from its features is what makes your design yours. If you’re only looking at others’ interpretations, you’re limiting the potential of your own creativity.
Every project you take on may not have a direct example you can look to as a guide. Play with the perspective and the visual representation of things that currently exist in the world. Get creative with how you use the elements you see. Expand your sources of inspiration as much as you possibly can. It will often surprise you where the spark will come from.
That spark could also come from outside of the market that you’re operating in. When I create branding for Kappa Kappa Psi & Tau Beta Sigma National Convention, I am pulling inspiration from other fraternities and sororities. However, I more so pull inspiration from the Super Bowl, Final Four, NHL, NBA, Oscars, Grammys, etc. Dreaming big means you’ll bring the most value to each and every project. I want my work to be able to stand in the same room as the work from much larger brands in much larger markets. I’m not limiting myself to work like mine. I’m inspired by great work across genres, styles, and markets.
To be the best version of yourself, you need to keep your mind and eye open.
As much as I love the Adobe Creative Cloud and my computer (the one at work and at home), I need breaks from technology. Taking breaks help me as a designer and as a human. Stepping away gives room for new ideas and strategies to reveal themselves. The internet is a great tool for discovery but so is actually going outside. Changing your environment can spark creativity in ways that sitting in front of your computer for hours can not. It can also save you from losing your mind over a tenacious problem you’re trying solve.
Recently, I took a trip with friends to Los Angeles. The time away and the disruption of my normal routine helped me relax my mind. A relaxed mind is fertile ground for creativity. When you’re not trying to force inspiration, it comes much more quickly on its own accord. A lot of ideas for designs hit me when I’m not even thinking about designing.
Another positive of getting away from the computer is gaining perspective and appreciation. Sitting on Venice Beach, basking in the glow of the beautiful day, I took time to appreciate the moment. As a professional graphic designer, I get paid to do what I love to do. I pay bills, eat food, and take trips through my career in graphic design. That will always be amazing to me. I can remember a time when I was starving for an opportunity to prove myself on a professional level. These kind of thoughts are more likely to enter your head when you give yourself a chance to stop and smell the roses or, in my case, the sand and water.
After a trip outside or to another city, you can come back to your work with a new focus. Even stepping away from a project for just a few moments can allow you to see things more clearly. We will all be better, if we take more time outs to gain peace, understanding, and perspective on our work and our lives.
Everyone has a dream.
Whether they believe it or not is the true question.
Business as usual will not result in dreams becoming reality. A change must come to produce what has never been produced. What has always been done is not enough to accomplish new and ambitious goals. Every great achievement in human history was preceded by a belief followed by hard work in the pursuit of success.