September 4, 2012, by Lindsay Mullett

Give me a [inspiration] break

I remember leaving college and stepping into the real world, feeling inspired, excited (okay, a bit nervous), and ready to design whatever was thrown my way.   I had spent four hard years throwing myself into design projects, and was ready to put my ideas out into the real world.   Despite the fact that I graduated during the midst of the stock market crash and rising unemployment, I was fortunate enough to have a job, and I reminded myself of that whenever I felt overwhelmed with the transition.

Throughout the first few years of work, I maintained this energy and didn’t allow the “low-man-on-the-totem-pole” assignments, tight budgets, and deadlines wear me down.  Then, one day this summer – three years later – it happened:  designers block.  I was worn down, and the thought of planning a space felt almost taxing, more like work, and less exciting than it once was.  I was thinking “oh no…not me!”  I was becoming one of “them;” you know, the people that come to work to just roll out another project without feeling any enthusiasm.

Luckily, this new feeling came at a time when our office was building up some inspiration boards.  At the time, I must admit, this was one more item to cross off on my lengthy to-do list.  I started working on this here and there, which first consisted of flipping through magazines I had let pile up, unread, throughout the past year.  The pages were lined with fascinating projects from around the world that pushed boundaries and provided creative solutions to project objectives.  I went from carefully cutting out pages to eagerly ripping out unique ideas and before I knew it, there was a stack of images I was excited to pin up.  I was in awe of people’s innovation within their projects and was feeling motivated to get back to my own.

Still on a mission to look for material, I began surveying my surroundings throughout my day.  For one, I let myself enjoy the sights of the Columbus Scioto Mile project right outside our office that is so close, yet so often overlooked.  Later in the week, something as simple as the color, form, and materiality of wine bottles at a grocery store sparked my interest for a restaurant I’m currently working on.  Even websites like Pinterest and designspiration have made the possibilities for idea starters endless; the key in all of this, I realized, is actually giving yourself the time to get sucked into them (word of advice: don’t sign up for either of those websites if you have anything else to accomplish in a night!).

By this time, the boards were complete (for now), and I was revitalized and reminded of why I got into this field in the first place – to put creative ideas in motion.  But even the most creative people sometimes feel stumped.  In those moments it’s imperative to step out of our routine, to dust off the design magazines and to take an inspiration break.