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How to get past your creativity block and why you should try new tools for your design

Let's explore why the tool has nothing to do with the art, but why the different tools can help you open up your creativity. We can explore other ways to get you out of your rut, no matter what you are designing or trying to be creative about. What tools have you determined will help you solve your problems? Why are you stuck? Lets try beating designer's block.

"A Poor workman blames his tools"

We've all heard the saying to some effect - and it applies to engineers and designers as well, but it's not the whole story. Here's an important part not to get wrong - this doesn't mean that tools have no effect on the overall outcome. This can't be true as there would be no point of their existence at all.

So let me unpack a little bit, tools enable, they are an extension of a user, a great designer can design on a napkin if necessary. So, no, you can't always blame your bad work on bad tools, but there is merit and skill in knowing which tools actually work (not just based on reading the reviews and picking on a 5 star rating!), the most experienced professionals will know which tools would be appropriate for a job personally.

BUT. Let me interject here with a reason why there is value in using other tools, even if you have found "the one" in terms of your perfect tool for the job.

Depending on the tools you decide to work with, you are inherently locked into a certain framework, certain pros and cons that come with said device. You have likely picked the tools based on comfort first, and then perhaps some experience you have around the tool or knowledge about it for the job. You have then determined that other tools cons are not best for the job.


That is precisely where the value can come from. Here's my situation currently. In a previous post, I talked about using Gravit Designer and how I have determined that was going to be the tool I used for 10Up development.

Sometimes you get stuck

The problem is, I got a little bit stuck when designing the new graphics. Now, I'm not sitting here blatantly blaming my tools and saying the designer tool I've chosen is why I can't create the right graphics for my app. But because of the fact that I was stuck, for me it generally  means time for a change.

From another well known quote "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result", well in this instance it was time to look for a new angle. And that new angle was going to come in the form of new tools.

Change it up

Think about it. You try to solve the same problem using some different tools and different places and in some cases you can expect different results. This is precisely what I was going to do. Change tools. Not because the first tool was broken, but to create a change of pace, change of angle, different perspective, whatever you want to use to explain it, but the inherent cons in the frameworks forced upon you by specific tools may just be what the doctor ordered.

Typically you hear about getting in a different mindset, going outside, looking at other solutions, mediating, etc. But I thought, no, let's try this.

Design the same problem with different tools

So, I got myself a Wacom Intuous and started playing with Piskell App for creating pixel art and Sketchbook for drawing ideas (Yes a pencil and a napkin can also suffice) and started trying to design for the same problem, starting with completely different tools.

At first I just started creating whatever I could create, but eventually that got some juices flowing onto my original problem. The great thing here is the fact that even if you don't completely solve your issue, if you have gotten past a certain design hurdle - boom - all of a sudden you are back. Reverse engineer that idea and come to the original place of work and execute.

You're simply searching for a trigger and other tools may not be where you really want to develop your idea the forced perspective may be all you need.

And 1 more reason

Changing tools may help you with your creative block but there is one more reason for the technical experts out there and it is tying back to what I said at the beginning of this writing "the most experienced professionals will know which tools would be appropriate for a job personally" As a professional you owe it to your self learning to use tools you never have in order gain personal, physical experience with other tools and further yourself as an expert in your craft!

As always, good luck to all on your side hustles. If this helped you or made you think at all, share it with your friends and family! You never know who could need it.

If you're still looking for more tips check out what I learned from the first 8 years of my career. It has my top tips for those looking at a career in engineering but you may find some inspiration or find value in it.

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