Tools of the Trade: Concept Maker App
In my day job as an Art Director, I get paid to dream up design and marketing concepts. But the practice of being professionally creative can be challenging: When you work on the same type of work for the same client day after day, week after week, the well of ideas can run dry. After ten months developing clever visual ways to say “We give you more!” you find yourself thinking you’ve said it in every possible way it’s ever been said. My team constantly looks for ways to keep our brains energized and churning out multiple solutions to each creative problem.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from 10 years in design, it’s that the way to get great work published is to create a LOT of work in the beginning phases and gradually narrow the focus to the best ideas for development. Every finished magazine ad started with a team in a room dreaming up 10 or 20 ad concepts in a sketchbook.
In our brainstorming sessions, we play games: How many ways can you say something in two minutes? What are three things that rhyme with “more”? We look through magazines for random photographs and try to tie them back to our subject matter. We pick random images and write headlines to them. We write headlines and find images for them. Anything to keep the ideas flowing.
When I recently came across an iphone app called Concept Maker, I was skeptical. “There’s an app for that, too?” But then I found myself in a conference room one day with a bad case of creative block and an extra $1.99 in my pocket, and I decided to give it a whirl.
The app has some cool features. There’s a “random inspiration” setting that pulls images from Flickr to get your brain moving in different directions (the idea then is to try to tie the images back to your subject matter in interesting and relevant ways.) There are “cards” designed to reboot your view of the problem “Is it a game?” or “Think of what seems right, then try the opposite.” There is a built-in “Idea Clock” which gives you rapid-fire creative assignments and you have to “beat the clock” to solve them in as many ways as possible before the timer hits zero.
For $2, this will not solve all your worldly creative problems, but if I’m being truly honest, it HAS gotten my stubborn brain working again when the ideas don’t come. If you need a little help brainstorming, give it a try!
How do you beat creative block?