As a designer and illustrator, being creative on demand is something I’m required to do every day. Over time I have gathered some tips and techniques to help me to open my mind and release creative block. Creativity, however, is not something that is just limited to artists. It has far more ‘real-world’ applications than we often think.

I often hear people say “I’m not creative”, however, I believe that we all have the capacity.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein

One area where creativity can be beneficial is in personal development. Creative work requires focus, concentration and being able to make a series of decisions. Art can help to open up neural pathways in the brain that are engaged when you are uninhibited making it conducive to relaxation and further creativity. Having an outlet for self-expression can help to increase confidence and encourage calm assertive behaviour. Art, for example, is a safe medium to make a mistake and explore your mechanisms for dealing with mistakes. Often it can be quite an insightful journey.

There are also many ‘real-world’ situations where a bit of creative thinking can make a big difference e.g. running a business, juggling many commitments, and even just getting the kids to bed on time, can all require creative solutions.



One of the main obstacles to creative expression is ego. It can be low self-esteem when you have no confidence and won’t take chances or it can be when you have established yourself behind a mask of perfection and there is a fear attached to anyone seeing you as less than that. Both scenarios can box you into a rigid form of thinking.

Further blocks can be caused by the limited and self-fabricating falsehoods we pin on ourselves as adults. “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “I never”…

Another major obstacle to creativity can be ‘adult behaviour’. As we get older we are conditioned to present ourselves to society in a certain way. This can create an aversion to play and fun as we begin to act rigidly and think ‘rationally’.


Tips & Techniques

Allow space and time for play and exploration in your life. Children explore frequently. Often the box is favoured over the toy at Christmas because, unlike the toy with its set number of functions, the box represents infinite possibilities limited only by the imagination.

Become aware of when you are on autopilot. We all, at one point or another, reach unconscious competence in a variety of tasks and are no longer aware of the process. Become present and mindful and start to wonder about and question the world around you.

Distract the conscious mind so that the unconscious mind can be heard. Most of us have had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a great idea. This is because our noisy rational mind has gone to sleep and finally the unconscious creative mind speaks up. If you find yourself stuck in a problem and needing a creative solution, distract your mind with a completely different task and let the answer simply come to you. The brain is self-organising and given time it will formulate synchronicities that help you to find a creative solution.


Further Reading

59 Seconds – Prof. Richard Wiseman
Think! Before it’s too late – Edward de Bono
The Art Instinct – Denis Dutton
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

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