What a super nice guy Aarron Walter is and I loved the inspiring talk he gave at An Event Apart Boston.
Aaron began by noting that all of us have someone who is “in charge of us,” whether it be the boss, or the client. If you get too focused on the execution of this work, then your creative thinking fades into nothing (“if you don’t use it, you lose it”).
Start Your Own Creative Project
You need to think creatively about your execution and the main way to do this is TO GET YOURSELF EXCITED. The best way to get excited is to START AN INDEPENDENT PROJECT which is satisfying to yourself. You never know where your project could lead you… it could make you feel warm and fuzzy, it could turn into a collaboration, or it could turn into a business. Aarron recommends checking out Dribbble (yes, that’s three b’s), “Our Cheerleader on the Web” – a great site to see what other creatives are doing.
Ask “What Would Happen If?”
Most of the time we ask that and then we let it die on the vine. Aarron says the hardest thing is to get started. Get your idea on paper, then show it to someone. Code a bit. Make a prototype. Either work on it for awhile or put it on the shelf (try to put 1000 things on that shelf!). Don’t get into excuses for why you can’t do it because INSPIRATION IS INSIDE OF YOU. The 1000 things on a shelf is your FACTORY FOR INSPIRATION. And you know what, failure is just fine.
Give Yourself Permission to do Something Big
Aarron talked about a friend who is a successful filmmaker in LA, a guy who never went to film school. He wanted to make some videos and set out to do so. He told himself, “I’m not the best, but I’m as good as the next guy.” Remember that your idea has as much value as the next person.
Here is the Creative Process: We ideate. We incubate. We evaluate (the judge). Be careful because the judge will kill the creative process. We all know this. The trick is go with your gut. To protect your work. Don’t show it to anyone else at this stage or casually mention it yet. You’ll eventually be asking, “What am I solving?”, but don’t ask this too soon.
Think about Design in terms of Who is my audience? What is my content? Move into Wireframe Interaction Design by creating a Sketchboard. This is a giant piece of butcher paper put on a wall. An open field where you’re able to think of the whole landscape of the project. You can put up post-it’s, illustrations, navigation ideas, fonts, colors, labels, notes. You can then make this portable to bring to a client.
Write simple code to get your idea across or use Fireworks to create a prototype or use a wireframe toolkit such as Mockingbird or Balsamic.
There are many tools on the web i.e. for social coding Github and for prototyping. Also check out MailChimp where Aarron continues to design cool user experiences.
Give yourself permission to work on your own stuff, even if it means staying up until 2:00 o’clock in the morning.
Check out Aarron’s book “Designing for Emotion.” If it’s packed with as much useful and inspiring information as his speech, I’m sure it will be a worthwhile read.