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02.28.23 - Design

Designer Q&A: Creative Mindset

There’s nothing quite like working in a creative field.

The expectations aren’t always clearly defined, creative ideas can’t always be summoned on command, and the deliverable has to speak for itself.

The ambiguity can be all at once exhilarating, rewarding, and exasperating.

In our second installment of the Employee Q&A Series, we focus on the magical thing we call creativity. A trio of Makeway designers shares how inspiration comes in all forms of media, what to do when something catches your eye, and how to turn ideas into reality during the design process.

Light your incense, pop in a peppermint candy and put on those noise-canceling headphones. It’s time to get creative.

A woman sits in a home office nodding and saying "come on ideas. come on."

Now for today’s question:

How do you get in the right mindset to be creative?
Greg Cunneyworth, Co-founder & Creative Director

Getting into a positive, creative mindset starts with finding and keeping good sources of inspiration at hand. Identifying work that visually appeals to us is almost always how we begin working creatively as a design team at the start of a project. During our design reviews, we speak to each other about the inspiration we find and like, which helps us move forward in the design process.

As Creative Director, it’s my responsibility to keep an eye out for work that inspires. I remember one time, I saw shading of a logo on an advertisement that I liked, and I took a photo of it on my iPhone. Weeks later, that image became relevant again by using it as inspiration to help create a similar style of shading in a logo our team was designing.

In my opinion, to be creative at the times you’re expected to be creative, you have to be continuously looking for and saving sources of inspiration wherever you are; be it online or IRL.

“To be creative at the times you’re expected to, you have to be continuously looking for and saving sources of inspiration wherever you are; be it online or IRL.” – Greg

Kelly Choi, Digital & Motion Graphics Designer

I think finding inspiration, experimenting, and stepping out of my comfort zone really helps me to be creative because it allows me to explore new ideas and perspectives. Inspirations can come from many different sources whether it’s movies, shows, music, people, or even other designers’ work. Once I am inspired, I channel that inspiration into a specific direction and use it to start on my design work. During this process, I try not to focus on the end product but on the journey of exploring, experimenting, and taking risks. This type of mindset always helps me to be creative and bring my ideas to life.

“During this process, I try not to focus on the end product but on the journey of exploring, experimenting, and taking risks.” – Kelly

Cindy Phan, Digital Designer

Finding inspiration is my first step. It’s hard for me to sit down and start designing well without something to reference. The way I see it, nothing is truly original; everything is derivative. What makes something original is one’s ability to combine different skills and techniques to achieve an innovative result.

I try to find inspiration in all forms of media: film, music, literature, games, etc. Design choices are made everywhere in the media, so when I see something I like, I’ll save it to reference later.

Once I have a good amount of inspiration, I proceed with my designs and create iterations. Every version I make gives me more information on what works and what doesn’t. After a while of iterating, I will take a step away from the project so I can come back with a fresh mind.

“I find inspiration in all forms of media: film, music, literature, games, etc. Design choices are made everywhere in the media, so when I see something I like, I’ll save it to reference later.”

– Cindy

Feeling inspired?

We hope so because, as Greg, Kelly, and Cindy note, inspiration’s the key to the creative process.

Whether it’s movies, advertisements, ChatGPT, or your neighbor Maureen’s Grateful Dead hummingbird feeder, there’s inspiration all around you. Keep your eyes peeled because your next great idea could come from anywhere. When ideas strike, be sure to write them down—at Makeway, we like to use a Miro board, which we call our “second brain,” borrowing a term from Tiago Forte.

Speaking of great ideas, check out our careers page if you’re looking for an internship or a new position. Or, if you’re interested in connecting directly, just reach out to [email protected].

While you’re here, be sure to check out our first installment of the Employee Q&A Series: What I Wish I Knew, in which Makeway developers share… you guessed it… what they wish they knew before starting their careers.