Share your good ideas

I enjoy watching and learning from the white board animations that RSA animate does (RSA ANIMATE: Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us - YouTube about motivation), I’m not sure if they helped with the one of the front page this morning. It didn’t seem like their style only because of the obvious CG effects at the end. It’s also a little bit shorter than most of the RSA videos, but it got me thinking nonetheless.

Where do most of your good ideas come from? Mine usually happen after hours and hours of work when I’m mentally beat (I’m a shoe designer), I’ll have a stack of thumbnails with 30/40/50 shoes in it and then I’ll start drawing some weird stuff. I hardly ever use the first thing that comes to mind because it seems so trite and obvious. Usually it ends up becoming a combination of obvious ideas and some weird 11th hour design mashup going on.

I’ve also found that certain areas are better than others for me to work in, and that getting more than one other person involved is difficult. Music doesn’t seem to have any effect either way on my performance, and coffee/caffeine drinks are great for keeping me up and getting started but terrible for fleshing out details towards the end of the day. Lighting doesn’t matter, but temperature is very important.

Anyway how do you work best?

I get my best ideas on the toilet…and whenever I’m not working (the car, the pub, waiting for a train,…)

I guess that is pretty vital. You don’t get an idea behind a desk.

And I love the RSA-videos


I agree with those feelings, but over time I’ve come to embrace some of that because many times an obvious solution is evidence of an intuitive solution. Often I find myself weighing all of my following design work up against my initial gut reaction to prove it wrong or find a better direction.

This is something I’ve tried to do more and more and what I have found is that just throwing ideas at people is a great way to see other perspectives and more often than not the discussion leads to building upon ideas or inspiration simply by talking it out with someone. This is usually informal side conversations about something, not a critique or scheduled meeting.

Overall I rely really heavily on intuition when it comes to design, getting outside perspectives often can help you to start imagining those perspectives while you work through a solution.

Certainly intuition and instinct are great guides, but a large part of my design brain screams ‘NOOOO!’ whenever I jump at the first solution. Typically I’ll save first solution ideas for fixing things at home. But like I mentioned above I usually make some sort of first/instinct and thought out/designerly hybrid to arrive at my conclusion.

Yeah after I’ve done my work and ‘finished’ then I’ll talk to other people about the project and get input. Usually I just listen and ask questions to better understand their point of view before making any changes.

Where do you go to get creative or what do you do?

Often good ideas come when Im not at work and doing something totally irrelevant to the project. That being said, hours and hours of drawing, sketching and analysis is still vital for me. Sitting all day behind the desk is not an inspiring method but its after those long days at the office thinking things through that the best idea suddenly appears. Usually when Im driving or eating or walking and dont have a piece of paper around :angry:

All my best ideas seem to happen when I’m in bed about five minutes after I’ve turned the light out and I’m really trying/need to go to sleep. Drives me insane. Then I have to turn the light back on and make a quick sketch (I keep a small sketch book by the bed) cause I know I’ll never remember the idea and kick myself in the morning.

Or in the middle of the night when you wake up from a crazy dream and think “oh my god! I have got it!”… Of course more often than not I wake up in the morning wonder what the hell I was thinking…

I wonder if it is a bad sign when work starts intruding into your dreams as well…

Same, I almost always follow the gut. I typically want to start sketching, rendering, making things as soon as possible, mostly as a vehicle to get feedback, share, tear apart, build back up… it also gives me confidence to know I have a few solutions explored and flushed out to explore some more uncharted ground. Once I feel I have the basics covered, its time to go way outside the box.

I get most of my thinking done on long walks, runs or at the gym… or over dinner and drinks with friends and colleagues. I like to separate where I think from where I implement in a way.

I think new ideas come every time you hear someone say ‘that’s impossible’ or ‘that would never happen’ especially when they pretend to have any control over it because then you start imagining the circumstances that would allow some crazy ideas to work

For any enthusiastic my how-to-have-good-ideas-for-dummuys-guide:
I think it sums up quite a lot of what has been said (and will be said) :stuck_out_tongue: and I do hope it speaks for itself…

And does anyone remember picasso or someone one else? Who would take a nap in the chair with a spoon in his hand. So that when he feel asleep the spoon would fall and make a hell of a lot of noise and he would then wake up. Because he believed you had the best ideas right before you went to sleep. …nice


When Im not thinking about it. When my brain is thinking about something else but Im still sketching on the project. Amazing what the subconscious can do. Less filters.

I like to do similar, just lay down and get into that late night, just about to fall asleep mode and let the subconscious do it’s thing. If I have to be awake and alert I’ll do similar by just scribbling random lines so the brain can put stuff together on it’s own or lead me down a path I wouldn’t have consciously thought of. Your brain will try to make order out of everything so give it some randomness and watch new unconventional thoughts appear!