Unstuck 52 Ways to Get and Keep your Creativity Flowing

unstuck creativit book coverI bought the book Unstuck (52 Ways to Get and Keep your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work and in your Studio) pretty much out of curiosity. I had previously read about the author Noah Scalin’s personal design project to create a Skull a Day. For this project he literally created an image by whatever means of a skull for every day of one year.

I am big believer in personal design projects and really like the premise behind this book. The book is filled with exercises aimed at getting your creative brain working. I know from personal experience how easy it is to get pigeon holed into a certain type if work, especially when you work full time, so this book might help you to break out of it.

It doesn’t matter how much time you have as the creative exercises are split into projects from 30 seconds (yes you read that correctly) to several hours.

So what sort of creative exercises can you expect?

Two minute project

Choose one of the provided squiggles (or make your own) and combine it with one of the supplied phrases (or make your own). Using the squiggle create a doodle which visually represents the phrase.

Unstuck Noah Scalin

Multi hour project pg 216

Take a camera and go outside, find images that can make up an alphabet.

Adapt the creative projects to your own needs

I have adapted one of the exercises myself. In the book Noah tells you to make 2 separate lists and the combine items from each to stimulate new ideas. Instead I created a series of coloured cards with different characteristics which I can combine at random to try and generate new character design ideas.

Interviews with other Creatives

Amongst the creative exercises there are short articles where different creatives share their thoughts and strategies on staying creative.

unstuck creative interviews

Who should buy this book

Anyone who is feeling in a creative rut or anyone who wants a new creative project outside of work to get their creative juices flowing.

unstuck creativity

You can get the book from Amazon here or find out more about it in the website

Please note the Amazon links are affiliate links – this means if you buy through them you pay the same but I get a small commission, so I can buy more books.

Why the 100 dollar start up is a book designers should read

The 100 dollar start upChances are you will have heard of Chris Guillebeau and his recent book the $100 startup, but here’s my view on why I think it’s a book that designers should read.

Let’s face it, work is harder to get than it was a few years ago for us designers, so we have got to start thinking differently. We have a wealth of skills at our finger tips, and not just to create work to fit a client’s brief. We have the ability to create new designs, products, websites and probably have numerous ideas for apps amongst other things, if we only knew how to harness our talents.

This is where the 100 dollar start up (aff link) comes in. Chris Guillebeau, interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs, but not of the get rich quick internet millionaire flavour. These are people who have created businesses that make them a good living, but not necessarily a fortune. After each entrepreneurs story Chris Guillebeau has identified key take away points to help you with your business ideas.

One of the stories which will probably interest you, is about 2 graphic designers who were a little bored of their normal design work. The duo were going on a trip and wanted a nice map to plan their journey, but couldn’t find one, so they designed one themselves. In order to get it printed they had to get a small run made. They gave a few to friends, and then thought they would see if they could sell the rest. The map was a success and their map business now supports them both.

There are plenty more inspiring and yet attainable stories in the book. Now it’s just a case of working out how you can apply it to your work and talents.

A product designer recently said to me “It’s about being creative by using our talents in a non-predictable way. You need to develop products!” I think he’s right.

Buy the 100 dollar start up here (aff link)

Inspiring Package Design Book Box Bottle Bag from the Dieline

dieline package design

I have only seen very few package design books that I really like, but Box Bottle Bag is definitely one of them. You wouldn’t really expect any less when it’s brought to you by The Dieline a fantastic blog all about packaging.

This book is a feast of eye candy paired with a brief sentence or two about each piece along with who created it and the font they used. Quite surprisingly good old Helvetica seems to be a firm favourite throughout many pieces of packaging in the book.

This is not a book to learn the design process or real thinking behind projects but is is a book of beautiful  work great for flicking through for Inspiration.

I especially like the way the book is broken into unexpected sections. While you might expect this to be done by packaging area, ie. food and drink, you instead find sections labelled things like Bold, Casual and Nostalgic.

If you design packaging or have aspirations to do so, this is a book for you.

A Sneak Peak inside Box Bottle Bag

package design book from the Dieline

packaging design inspiration

Creative packaging book

What are your favourite books about packaging design?

Get a Free Signed Copy of Designer Von Glitschka’s Book – Vector Basic Training

Von Glitschka has kindly offered to give one lucky Graphic Design Blog reader a free signed copy of his book

Vector Basic Training: A Systematic Creative Process for Building Precision Vector Artwork

vector training book“In Vector Basic Training, acclaimed illustrative designer Von Glitschka takes you through his systematic process for creating the kind of precise vector graphics that separate the pros from the mere toolers. Along the way, he’ll whip your drawing skills into shape and show you how to create elegant curves and precise anchor points for your designs. Between the book and the video tutorials on the included DVD, you’ll be ready for active creative duty in zero hundred hours or less.”

To win a signed copy of the book you just have to be the first person to leave a comment saying why you would like a copy of the book

To check out a free chapter of the book please go to this link

Clientophilic Freelancing Review – How to Win Clients for Freelance Designers

Cleintophilic Freelancing ebookClientophilic Freelancing by Shoaib Hussain is an ebook I was recently given a copy of and asked to review. I must admit from the title I thought, what the heck is this going to be about.

What is Clientophilic Freelancing?

Cleintophilic freelancing is an ebook aimed at freelancers including graphic and web designers who need a bit of help with their sales skills (ie they are clientophobic). It is not going to help you promote your design work, but once you do get a meeting set up aims to help you convert it into a live design job with better sales techniques.

Lets face it the majority of us designers are not great sales people. I think it is far easier for someone not actually doing the work to sell – they generally don’t think about the technical problems in the brief or the timing, they just listen and say, yes, we can do that (and leave us to curse when they get the job!).

This book looks at the psychology of different types of people and gives you ideas of the best ways to approach each of them. Along with this there are very general tips which should make any potential client feel at ease. A few of the techniques you may have heard of but I am sure there will be some you haven’t. For example one technique suggested is to repeat back what the client says. For example if they were saying they were looking for a very corporate typographic logo, which must be blue and include a given strapline when they had finished telling you about it you would say Ok When I get back to the office I will sort out a quote for your logo, I understand it needs to be very corporate and typographic based and include your strapline and retain your companies existing blue. This apparently makes the client feel like you are listening to them and have understood the given information. Its funny it’s something I know I actually do at meetings, though I do it more to make sure I have understood all the information correctly (so I am doing something right).

Personally I wouldn’t be comfortable to try out some of the tips straight away in case I made it too obvious and the book itself recommends you practice the techniques out on friends and family first – obviously without telling them to see if it works. (Who knows, maybe you can use the techniques to talk one of your friends into buying you dinner 🙂 )

Should I get Clientophilic Freelancing?

If you are new or nervous about meeting with potential clients or are struggling to convert a meeting into a sale then Clientophilic Freelancing will probably help you.

If you need help with promoting yourself to find new clients in the first place see my review of 10 Steps to Powerful Online Self Promotion for Creatives

Graphic Stew – Graphic Design Book Review

graphic stew design bookThe Designer’s Graphic Stew is a graphic design book I have been kindly given and asked to review. I checked with the company that gave it to me to make sure that were happy that I give my honest opinion and they said they were so here goes –

What is Graphic Stew

Graphic Stew is a book which basically breaks up design elements that you would have on the printed page and shows you lots of different things you can do with them. For example there are pages devoted to possible grid systems, colour pallettes, typeface combinations and options amongst many other items. At the beginning of the book there is also a very good grounding into page layout and good composition that would be ideal for newbies.

First Impressions of Graphic Stew

I have to admit my first impressions of Graphic Stew were not good. The cover was ok but inside the layout and style is very dated, I am not sure if this is intentional as they are playing on the idea of a menu or recipe book. I even turned to look at the first print date as I expected it to be the nineties – but read on the content was better than the look.

What’s Good about the Graphic Stew Design Book

Are you ever working on a design and get stuck in a rut with your layout or trying to get something to look a bit different then Graphic Stew could help you be a little bit more experimental. I know personally that layout for layouts sake is not my favourite thing (I prefer conceptial work) so when a client gives me some text and a few pics I sometimes sit and sketch and think ummm… what can I do different with it this time. This is where Graphic Stew could come in handy, perhaps for a bit of inspiration for a way I could use typography for a blown quote or a heading maybe using a leading symbol or an abstract background. The elements in Graphic Stew may not be works af art (or to be copied directly) in themselves but there to stimulate your creative brain to try out new things. Those small things that can make a difference to your design work are covered too – like different ways of styling folios on your pages.

Graphic Design Examples in Graphic Stew

Nearer the back of the Graphic Stew book are actual pieces of design work with an explanation to the layouts. This is a bit of a mixed bag again, with some of the work looking quite dated.

Should you buy Graphic Stew

If you want a graphic design book which is something you can flick through when you are stuck for what to do on a page layout this book is well worth checking out. If however you are looking for a graphic design book with beautiful typography and imagery this is not the book for you.

Examples of page indexing

graphic stew design book

Examples of page grids

graphic stew design book