Ignore Everybody: 3 Tips for the Creative Type

I recently read a book by cartoonist Hugh Macleod titled “Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity.”  The book was a brief, comical, and incredibly worthwhile read highlighting 40 lessons Macleod has learned over the years working in creative industries.  After reading the book, I found some of my favorites and thought I’d share my insights.

1) Ignore Everybody

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In a field where feedback is key, this can seem like an odd idea.  Paying attention to constructive critiques and taking inspiration from other design is part of the process.  Macleod means that when you have a great idea, it can often change the balance between you and your peers.  As a result sometimes your favorite ideas will get a lot of early questioning.  Macleod stresses the importance of an artist having a well formed idea, and keeping the goal of the design in mind throughout the work.

2) Keep Your Day Job

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I’m planning on working more than one job at a time in the coming years.  Some people see this as a bad thing, for a while the idea of having to work a job and freelance on the side was intimidating to me as well.  But Macleod’s perspective is that keeping a more steady (even if slightly boring) job is more than worth it.

First of all keeping a steady job means steady income, never a bad thing.  But also it means that all of the jobs you take on the side can be the most most fun jobs, where you can keep your original ideas your own.  By having both as a source of income, both become relatively low pressure because you aren’t entirely dependent on either.

3) Honesty Works

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This one is simple.  He is saying that people know when they’re being sold to, and tend to really hate it.  When someone is speaking to a crowd, it’s different than having a personal conversation with them.  This is true for your ideas too.  The strongest ideas speak for themselves.  When an idea is great the truth is most convincing, and it doesn’t need selling.

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The Value of Design

We can learn an incredible amount about our own work by examining that of our betters. Animagraffs is a site run by entrepreneurial graphic designer Jacob O’ Neal. I came across the site and found myself being captured by skillful use of his minimalist and colorful design style. After looking at the rest of his portfolio and learning about him as a designer, I thought his lessons would be worth sharing, in addition to his very inspirational content.

The first thing I came across about O’ Neal was a series of motion graphics explaining how car engines work. I’ve been proudly called a car nerd in the past and loved the content of the page, so I explored further into the site. O’ Neal had done a series of projects, including the mechanics of a car engine, the firing mechanism of a handgun, the movement of a tarantula, and how to pull off the perfect moon walk.

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O’ Neal’s style is simple and bold, which makes is fantastic for understanding complex ideas. I began thinking of how useful motion graphics are, for a wide variety of industries. Furthermore, it got me thinking about graphic design as a form of education. Through this lens I think can learn quite a bit from designers like O’ Neal about both style and our industry.

As designers our purpose is to take complex, multi-faceted ideas and simplify them into simple relatable designs. We will be hired throughout our careers to communicate the ideas of your clients to the public. Our designs can and do actually educate people about the ideas were representing.

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O’ Neal mentions in his portfolio that he’s a self-made success, and chose the entrepreneurial path to being his own boss. I’ve found that many designers share common feelings towards starting their own business, but often fear failure or the risks involved. Regardless of your choice of career path, I think O’ Neal shares some wisdom for everyone.

O’ Neal seems to have found his niche for design. His ability to use design to simplify complex mechanics and structures is incredibly useful, and valuable, and he highlights it.   If you’re planning on starting a design company, then to get business you will have to communicate the value of your work, and the same goes if your looking to get hired for a company or freelance.  For a young professional designer I found two major takeaways.

  • Educate clients on the value of design, and it’s purpose for educating the public.
  • Find a niche that works with your strengths and style, and highlight that work to increase it’s value.

3 Creative Design Sites to Keep Your Art Fresh

In the world of each artist there is something that exists which I refer to as “The Wall.”  At a certain point, we all find ourselves mindlessly staring at our work, and asking what to do next?  In times like these I’ve found it’s helpful to turn to outside sources for some new inspiration and challenge.  This post will discuss three blogs that I’ve found that provide inspiration and keep my designs from getting stale.

Abduzeedo:

Abduzeedo has two basic benefits: inspirational material, and tutorials.  But they cover an immense amount of content, across all types of art and design.  The various collections on the site provide an immense amount of inspirational material for readers.  For designers looking to add some handy skills to their resume, they offer tutorials in Photoshop, Illustrator, and several other software programs.

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Additionally the site has links to interviews with artists active in the world of design.  They post news articles relevant to design and designers, everything from web design awards to book reviews.  Abduzeedo also publishes lists of weekly top sites to keep readers aware of what their peers are producing.

Wallpaper*:

The blog Wallpaper* is an interesting site to browse around.  Really it’s more of a culture blog with a design trend, but none the less its a great place to go for some mental refreshing.  They do offer an entire section dedicated to design, but not limited to graphic or web design.  There are tabs for art, travel, fashion, lifestyle, and jewelry as well.

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This site should be considered more for its use as a mental relief.  I find that when I get stuck in a project, it’s less often due to lack of know-how and more often due to dissatisfaction with the direction the piece is taking, or simple lack of inspirational ideas. By taking the time to look through news across fields of design and art, you can give your mind a breather and possibly come across an element of design you can use.

Cool Hunting:

The last blog I want to discuss is Cool Hunting.  Which is, by the way, very cool.  The main reason this site makes the list is just because of how fun it is to navigate.  The layout and interface of Cool Hunting is really an impressive piece of web design on it’s own.  Most of the content on Cool Hunting is links to external articles, but they offer material on everything you could imagine.  Scrolling down the page I see headlines for videos discussing threads from Sri Lanka, Nordic Skiing, and tips for traveling the world cheaply and uniquely.

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Whether or not you find an article to inspire you towards completion, Cool Hunting offers some seriously interesting stuff.  If you need some ideas as to setting up your own site, go play around on Cool Hunting and see how they’ve laid out their sections and the search menu.