Tired. Flat. Boring. Unimaginative. Uncreative. Stale design happens when, presented with a new design problem, you find yourself working on auto-pilot, designing using only your practiced tools and techniques, your routine methods... by rote... using the same old ideas you've used until their edges are shopworn. (The opposite of "edgy" right?) Stale design is hardly design at all, is it?
It's important to experiment with different ways of doing things - to jump out of that rut you've been busily digging while you were being so productive.
But, most importantly, you need to fill up that idea-well that you've been emptying buckets of inspiration from all this busy while. Creativity, like any underground aquifer, needs recharging.
This past weekend, for me - these recent weeks - are a recharging period. I'm determinedly not designing any theater shows. I'm seeing movies; reading novels; swimming and doing summer stuff; seeing friends; designing and/or writing totally different kinds of things; tidying up the mess left by my recent busy period; and doing household things... even hanging pictures that have been patiently waiting, leaning against the wall, for months and months and months.
I'm not trying too hard to fill the well - no desperate rush to the museums or my theater design books - I'm just idling. Idle is good. (Well as idle as I can get away with!) After all, if Newton hadn't been loafing around under an apple tree, would we have gravity now? No! We would be free floating in space. So enjoy gravity properly, break out the hammock!
Here are a few of my favorite methods for recharging the designer's well:
1) See stuff: visit museums and art shows; go to the mall and stare at clever window displays; watch well designed films or live shows; flip through art books, travel books, and fashion magazines; find cool images online; look around everywhere you go; sketch from life...
2) Practice other senses: listen to music; move; taste apples; smell roses or pool-side chlorine...
3) Learn stuff: read up on subjects you know little about; study history; look at visions of the future; talk to experts on anything...
4) Get busy - with other stuff: wash dishes; garden; take long walks; exercise; socialize; live your life!
5) Get lazy: goof off, whether that's lazing in the pool, daydreaming in a hammock under that apple tree, or racing raindrops down the windowpane beside your chair as you pretend to read. Let your mind wander...
Summer is a perfect time to recharge.
Public domain images messed with
ADDENDUM: Related post Busman's Holiday.