By Sonia Mansfield
Maintaining your creative drive while staring down a deadline is one of the biggest challenges in graphic design. These three simple tips will help you to overcome the pressure and create great graphic design without stress.
Stay In Your Chair
Stephen King has often attributed his prolific writing career to a simple strategy: he stays in his chair. When he sits down to write, he stays in place purposefully and reminds himself that it is his job to produce words. By staying at his keyboard, Stephen King can finish several bestsellers in the time most would-be novelists would spend waiting for the muse to strike.
This is a perfect strategy for graphic design. During crunch time, designers who wait nervously for inspiration to strike are doing themselves a disservice. Creativity becomes more difficult as time slips away. The best way to keep yourself calm and creative under pressure is to keep your pencil moving and your mouse clicking—you’re guaranteed to make more progress in a day than a designer who paces around an unused drawing board.
Even if you will yourself to work, the breadth of a graphic design project can be daunting. You may find yourself caught in a loop of hesitation over false starts or insurmountable tasks. If so, it’s time to make the power of the list work for you.
Cartoonist Lynda Barry once told an interviewer that when she has writer’s block, she makes a list of ten comic strip topics that she could write about. This helped her mobilize her work efforts, and made it easy to choose the best idea. You can apply this to graphic design by making a list of ten ideas, or perhaps ten thumbnails. Don’t worry if your ideas seem silly or outrageous! A good design idea is bound to come to light.
You can also use lists again to break big tasks into smaller ones. This will put your graphic design process into perspective and help you to manage your time. For example, completing a project in one day may seem impossible, but, if you break it down into a list like this, the task looks more more managable:
- Thumbnail ten designs; choose the best to pursue. (1 hour)
- Refine best design (finish mockup before lunch)
- Implement design according to medium of choice (all afternoon)
Hold yourself to the times you’ve set out in the list and you’ll make your deadline with minimum stress.
Treat Yourself Well
Professional graphic design can be demanding, especially around crunch time. Put in the time you need, but keep it in check! You’ll work better, faster, happier and smarter if you don’t skip on meals and sleep.
Time management and task management are no good without stress management. Too much stress and fatigue will make it hard to produce good graphic design. Just as an athlete eats well and sleeps well before a marathon, make sure you get the food and rest you need to perform to the highest standards.
Sonia Mansfield is the content editor for PsPrint and editor for the PsPrint Blog. She likes to write, do yoga and make nerdy “Star Wars” and “Simpsons” references. PsPrint is an online printing solutions company, which you can follow on Twitter and Facebook.