The Calculated Creative

Graphic Design is My Prison - But it Doesn't Have to Be!

While graphic design can absolutely be a prison during the early days of your creative career it doesn't have to be that way forever.

We’ve all seen the memes floating around the internet showcasing how wonderfully passionate entry level graphic designers can be (insert the typical “graphic design is my passion” meme here).

Over time those memes have, for better or worse, morphed into a new version that cleverly shifts the word passion to prison.

And while graphic design can absolutely be a prison during the early days of your creative career…

It doesn’t have to be that way forever.

Here’s 6 ways you can elevate your design work to get you out of that creative jail cell:

1. Take More Breaks and Time Off

It’s important to take extended time off.

And recharge on a regular basis.

Don’t wait until you are completely burnt out to take a vacation.

Take time off during slower times of year when you can completely unplug.

You can even take the same approach on weekdays and weekends.

Stepping back provides perspective.

And helps you return to projects later with fresh eyes and renewed energy.

Working reasonable hours also prevents fatigue and stale thinking.

Make plenty of time for non-work activities you find:
- Fun
- Inspiring
- Relaxing

2. Set Clear Boundaries and Learn to Say No

Graphic designers need to learn when and how to say no to additional work that will stretch their limits.

Many of us want to please and say yes to everything.

Then find ourselves overwhelmed.

Be realistic about what you can handle.

Having strong boundaries about your availability.

And protecting personal time.

Will help you maintain balance and avoid creative overload.

3. Explore New Creative Activities Outside Your Norm

Challenge yourself to regularly learn new creative skills outside your comfort zone.

Take classes in:
- Art
- Writing
- Photography

Pick up a new instrument and practice.

Try painting, pottery, or textile arts.

Join a writing group or take an improv class.

Exploring new creative outlets stimulates different parts of your brain.

And expands your creative abilities.

Bringing this expanded perspective back to your regular work renews your thinking.

And keeps you feeling refreshed.

4. Build a Community of Creative Peers

Find creative mentors and peers who understand the challenges of your work.

Join or start a mastermind group that meets regularly to support each other.

Connecting with a community that faces similar creative struggles can provide renewed motivation.

And the extra push you need to keep going when times get hard.

Having a sounding board for ideas prevents too much isolation.

5. Limit Time on Social Media

While social media can connect you with a wider audience…

It also invites unhealthy comparison.

Measuring your creative worth by likes and followers will quickly kill motivation.

Use social media tools sparingly.

Not compulsively.

Don’t let validation of shares and comments become your only creative measuring stick.

Unplug often.

6. Immerse Yourself in Fresh Inspirational Experiences

Continually refill your creative well by seeking out new experiences.

Visit art museums.

Attend live theater and dance.

Listen to new genres of music.

And expose yourself to innovative architecture.

Travel to experience new cultures.

Read books outside your norm.

And listen to varied podcasts.

Surrounding yourself with fresh inspirational experiences sparks new creative ideas and approaches.

The Takeaway

Burnout is a real and serious problem for many creative professionals.

The constant feeling of being
- Drained
- Unmotivated
- Unsatisfied

Can slowly erode your passion over time.

This leads to lackluster results.

And can even cause some creatives to leave their industry altogether.

Avoiding burnout and keeping your spark alive is essential for long-term success.

The creative life requires:
- Resilience
- Self-awareness
- Self-care.

By being intentional in placing boundaries around your work.

And filling your world with inspirational influences.

You can avoid burnout.

Stay out of design prison.

And begin to sustainably produce your best creative work over the long-haul.

Make Your Work
Suck Less

Pulling back the curtain on the creative process to help make your work a little less terrible. A 3-minute read delivered each week on Monday morning.

The Calculated Creative

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