Earlier this week I posted on my Instagram how a couple years ago I went through a serious "design burnout" phase. I couldn't look at another SVG design, I didn't want to look at Adobe Illustrator. I was tired of thinking up design ideas. I felt tired. Depleted. Overwhelmed. And I questioned if I was cut out for this type of work. Maybe I had chosen the wrong area even though I had been successful on Etsy at that point. I still wondered if I had made the wrong decision because if this was my area then I wouldn't be facing this burnout, right?
Each designer faces this same struggle. Even though I am a person who naturally gets bored easily and it was no surprise I got to this point, this is still something we all face and a common problem creatives have. Even random, hot mess Kasey was able to move past this, and you can too.
In my IG post, I mentioned that in order for me to overcome this I simply gave myself grace. I didn't beat myself. I gave myself TIME and SPACE so I was able to have a break from design completely, which is easier to do in the design commerce area and in my case selling SVG designs since they don't immediately drop in sales when you take a break from your business. See my post where I shared sales numbers after taking a long break from designing.....this is still crazy to me that a business like this can exist. But moving on...
This post isn't going to focus on the "taking a break and giving yourself grace" part of my IG post but it will focus more on the WHAT to do when you experience design burnout and where to go to receive design inspiration. In this post I share with you everything I do each time I experience this.....and yes there has been several times. This has allowed me to (at the time of this post) publish 550 design products to my Etsy store and stay in the top selling 1% of sellers on Etsy since 6 months after launching my shop! 🙌
First up...Keep an Ongoing Design Inspiration List, Everywhere!
Alllll year long be keeping a design inspiration list or board....on EVERY online platform where you spend time. For me this is Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Each of these platforms and many others, have a way to save the post or item you see. Many store platforms like Target, Wayfair, etc. have ways of creating lists as well! Simply create your list or board to save to and when you see something that sparks your creativity and gives you an idea for your own design product, SAVE IT IMMEDIATELY! Do this and you will have an ongoing list of design ideas that will continue to grow. When on Pinterest and YouTube, you can set the Privacy setting for your Design Inspiration board to "Secret" so its not viewable by others which is always nice! I may do a couple videos on how to build out these lists in the future, comment below if you'd like me to do this....or maybe you already know how to. Anyways, moving along...
I will mention, even by doing the above the long list of designs can be confusing to the point by the time you refer back to your saves you forget what inspired you by this design. So in addition to these lists, I also have a list on Trello where all my design ideas go and I simply link back to that item on whatever platform its on and make a note of what inspired me about the design here. If you aren't familiar with Trello, it's a project management tool that allows you to make list upon list with tasks that you can share with team members. Our daily processes and business, the every day to day things we do all run off of Trello! I'm not affiliated with them, I just love them that much. Comment on this post at the bottom of this page and let me know if you want to hear more about how we use Trello. I'll do another post if I hear you all are interested. ;-)
Change things up!
Another thing I do to receive design inspiration when I'm in a slump is to change things up. If I have been working on more farmhouse styles, I then switch to maybe a more modern, colorful style of graphics, or maybe instead of clipart I start focusing more on quote-based designs. A simple change like this can make all the difference and give you a new, fresh start on designing something new and different which helps end the "lull" you are experiencing. It also makes it a bit more exciting to create something you haven't tried before and something that's not your go-to.
Back in the day when I went to school, I had a web design class and in this class the instructor taught us to KISS.
Nooo....not that KISS. That would've been weird...and maybe I'm weird for even putting this in here.......moving on!
This KISS means to "Keep It Simple Stupid." Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD! Just because you are able to design complex or reallyelaboratee designs, doesn't mean you always should. When I get into a slump, I sometimes give myself permission to keep it simple, go back to the basics and instead, focus on “easier” less thought-sucking designs. It's amazing what extremely simple designs can do for you. Instead of focusing on creativity, focus on what you're audience is buying or what they need and design the simplest form of this. So they are searching for Fall items let's say. Design a simple pumpkin which equals combining a few circles and a rectangle for the stem. Easy peasy! This gives your brain a break! And yes, these aren't the most amazing or beautiful designs, but someone out there DOES need a simple pumpkin and isn't finding it. This is still PRODUCING SOMETHING which is better than sitting on your hands and not putting any new products out, just my opinion but in my experience this doesn't hurt.
Use Pre-existing Designs as a Starting Point
Maybe you have a really cute graphic you designed a while back that was a favorite amongst your buyers. Maybe its a design of a wreath. Use this and expand on it, add some wording to it, add it to another design. Use it as your starting point and then build off of it. Using a more intricate design such as this to build off of eliminates the heavy lifting part of the work for you and is a life saver when dealing with design burnout. You can use a single graphic or part of a design to create several other designs....it's genius!!
These tid bits have ALWAYS without fail, help get the creative juices flowing again....or at least have given me a break from design so that they continue to flow later on! What I have seen is that usually when we experience design burnout, it is because we are pushing ourselves a little too hard. So take a breather, take a break if you need to and try the different things above and I guarantee they will start flowing again....eventually if not immediately!
I hope you have enjoyed this post that I have poured my insight into. If you have a method you use when experiencing design burnout, please post it below! We are all here to support each other and help each other along in this online design biz game. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week everyone! Cheers,