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Keeping the
Creative Juices
Flowing
100 Habits of Successful Freelance Designers
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Keeping the creative fresh is perhaps the most important issue for
a freelancer. If the books are buttoned up, the clients are happy, and the
annuals are including you, but you feel burned out or like you’re up
the creative creek with no paddle in sight, the future looks pretty bleak.
Burnout, boredom, getting tired of the grind, and even consideration of
a complete change of career are all to be expected if you’ve been in the
business for even just a few years. All the normal frustrations, anxieties,
and pitfalls that come with the design business can seem even more fre-
quent and daunting if you’re trying to be creative and run your own shop
simultaneously. Here are just a few ideas from people who’ve been there,
done that, and learned some great ways to kick-start their creative engines
along the way.
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162 100 Habits of Successful Freelance Designers
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“Do projects that sound fun, whether you think you have time to do them or
not. Some projects I had the most fun doing were pro-bono. I did them at times
where I was busy enough that I probably should have said no, but didn’t.
“One of those fun projects was designing Halloween invites for a party a friend
was throwing at a bar. This project gave me the opportunity to draw again, as
well as the challenge of seeing if I could make 800 invites on a $100 (£64)
printing budget.
It also doesn’t hurt being able to say that the bar was supposed to go out of
business three weeks after the party, but did so well that night that they were
still in business the next year.
“On this project, I wanted to print program covers, invites, thank-you cards,
RSVP cards, and two small inserts to put with the program on the same print
run, all two-over-two with full bleeds (total sheet size was 12” 18” [30
46 cm]). The printer even allowed me to send the project with no crop marks
(which allowed me to design the pieces ¼-inch [6 mm] larger), along with a PDF
document showing where the cuts would be made afterwards.”
do it for fun
Donovan Beery, Eleven19 Communications, Inc.
83
The Spotlight Club, “Fright Night at the Spotlight”
Halloween costume starter kits
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163Keeping the Creative Juices Flowing
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“There is no designer more gifted, brilliant, and inspiring than Mother Nature.
Look at the patterns of branches reaching into the sky, check out the color
combinations in the fall, take note of how many shades of green there are in
a single tree, study the sleek lines in a pigeon or a falcon. As designers, we often
nd ourselves trying to force things, to manhandle type, color, and image into
a pleasing composition. A mindful walk in the woods is a good reminder that
the most stunning designs often happen naturally.”
get out in the greenery
Steve Gordon, Jr, RDQLUS
84
look within
M. Mavromatis, MM Design Studios
85
“Keeping motivated and fresh, like any other thing, starts from within. I use
contemplation and questioning in such a way that it pushes my conceptual
thinking and how I execute an idea. I chose design for a career that wouldn’t
be all consuming in my life. I think the diversity in my interests and activities
impacts my design life in a positive way.”
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