How to stifle creativity

30 Apr

For some, creativity suffers from one fundamental problem; it sometimes leads you into uncharted territory but on the flip side it does get you noticed.

So if it’s such a good thing then why am I writing about stifling it? Call it reverse psychology. I’m hoping commissioning clients, project managers and even creatives might stop doing what they often do, and instead give creativity room to breathe.


Creativity is spontaneous, you get a spark, a flash of inspiration and then BOOM! You need an outlet to show it. Might be a site, leaflet, or some copy ideas that came to you while you were munching on that Krispy Kreme on your lunch break (I’m saying nothing). You get back to the office, put it forward to the boss or your client and get the “I’ll have a think about it” line.

Opportunity missed.

By the time they do get back to you the idea has gone stale or won’t work in the current context.


Every design could do with a brief and yes, sometimes a detailed brief. This is a good thing but the clue is in the name. If you are over prescriptive in what you want you leave no room for creativity and end up with something you could have done yourself with your eyes closed rather than different and refreshing.

Artist Ponders Model

Be safe

“Ooer, we’ve never done it like that before”

“Can’t we just use Times New Roman?”

Sound familiar? Well that’s the voice of the design health and safety squad. If the design matches the context and if it doesn’t conflict with brand guidelines then why not? Actually if you can’t design your way around brand guidelines then maybe you’re not as creative as you thought after all.

Creativity is all about crossing borders, exploring, experimenting, asking questions (the right and wrong ones) and giving life to something compelling, engaging and different.

If you’re looking for inspiration, one of my favourite places is, a portfolio site used by creatives all over the world. If you are a web designer I recommend you follow @designerdepot on Twitter for tips, freebies and other gems.

By the way if any of this resonates with you, I’d love to hear both sides of the story so comment away.


One Response to “How to stifle creativity”

  1. Clara May 1, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    Hope needs to read this

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