The blog

Ten Ways to Conquer Creative Blocks

Businessman shows a brain in shield glass as concept

Every night, even the most unimaginative person has the ability to turn into an artist. When our heads hit the pillow and we start to dream we let go of reason and assumptions and we have the opportunity to grasp the freedom of thought without restriction.

It is during this time that the brain rests and unlocks the subconscious. All of those tedious tasks that have occupied your mind all day suddenly disappear and provide you with the ability to listen to your mind. Practice some of the following exercises to get through some of your creative road blocks.

1. Keep a paper and pencil or tablet next to your bed. As your mind starts to unravel, you will be amazed at what comes out. If you manage to wake up during this time when your mind becomes quiet, jot down what comes out and then go back to sleep. Your brain will automatically remember what you just wrote and it will start to develop that idea. It might lead to something else and perhaps even euphoria. The key is to not let these ideas vanish. Write them down.

2. Quiet your mind. In this time of on demand everything, it’s easy to clutter your mind with so many things. You have so much going on in your head everyday, how are you supposed to focus on creating something new? The other day, I counted the number of information blocks on the MSNBC TV Screen and there were ten! Ten areas on the screen that were vying for space in my brain. It’s very difficult to concentrate until the brain has been silenced. One way to do this is to go to a quiet location, sit down with a piece of paper and jot things down that come to your mind. It doesn’t have to be sketches, just whatever comes to the surface.

3. Take a shower. Have you ever noticed that you feel a bit different when warm water is cascading off your body? It’s because our minds are not focused on our mobile phones or preparing for meetings. When our minds are diligently fixated on the tasks of the day, it actually prevents us from detecting the connections that lead to perception. When we allow our minds to disengage for awhile, we can finally hear the discourse taking place between the right and left hemispheres of our brains. If we recognize this process start to happen we can start to see some clarity and insight into things that were otherwise suppressed.

4. Play a word association game. Write down (in a quiet place), all the words you can think of that relate to the problem you are trying to solve. Reference a thesaurus if it helps. Write down the words and you will start to see things flow and some words will lead to others and then maybe just maybe you’ll hit on something that you didn’t think of before. Perhaps one word will take you down a path that leads to another path and then another and then woolah! Pay dirt!

5. Store the problem in the back of your mind for awhile. Tuck it away neatly behind the 27 million other things you are thinking of. Then pull it to the front every now and then when you come across something your brain hasn’t seen in awhile. The problem will start to become clearer when you associate it with new things. You will start to see the problem in a new light.

6. Play music. This distracts your mind and helps to loosen things up. It let’s ideas flow more freely and unleashes thoughts and ideas that may have been lurking around but couldn’t get out because the consciousness had them locked down.

7. Get unfocused. Let your mind wander. The gate keepers in your brain will open up when you disengage and let your mind wander. Allow yourself time to daydream, nap, or partake in any activity that lets your mind wander.

8. Think positively. Position yourself in a positive environment and only allow positive thoughts to enter your mind. Consider finding a blue room to dwell in while you think about the problem at hand. It has been proven “that the color blue can help you double your creative output” 1. You will discover that you will start to feel more open to perceptions that might have otherwise been obscured. You will be able to explore and discover new thoughts thus allowing you to connect the dots more easily.

9. Get out of the office. Go for a walk, take a train ride, or go to the beach. When you expose your mind to fresh things, you provide stimulus to the brain which will help to see things in a different way. The environment you are in hugely affects your ability to create. Research shows that even three to five minutes of contact with nature can significantly reduce stress and have an impact on emotions, reduce anxiety and increase positivity. “Environmental triggers seed behavior and response in people to a much greater extent than we realize.” 2

10. Find some “me” time. Trying to do too many things can stifle creativity. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or overtaxed take a breather for an hour or two or even a day or two if time allows. When you come back to the problem you should see everything in a new and brighter light. 3


1 Imagine: How Creativity Works: Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) 51-52
Imagine: How Creativity Works: Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) 29-30
The Google program is officially known as Innovation Time Off. That program has led directly to the development of Gmail, Google’s successful e-mail program, and AdSense, a nine-billion-dollar-a-year platform that allows Internet publishers to run Google ads on their sites. Marissa Mayer, ex Google VP of search products and user experience, estimates that at least 50 percent of new Google products begin as innovation Time Off speculations.


Helping Breast Cancer Patients Retain Their Dignity

Radiant Wrap Designer GownsSAN JOSE, Calif., July 24, 2013 — Most people know that women with breast cancer endure a lot while undergoing humiliating radiation treatments. It’s a big blow to their self confidence as their dignity is taken away. So it’s good to know that there are companies out there that are trying to help retain some of that dignity and provide them with a sense of comfort. One such company is Radiant Wrap, a start-up company based in Silicon Valley, California who are breaking new ground in the form of hospital gowns. They are creating alternative chic designer gowns for breast cancer patients to wear during radiation treatment. The gowns are designed to flatter rather than humiliate. They make you feel comfortable not cold while the equipment does it’s job. This is empowering breast cancer patients to feel confident, secure, and even glamorous during the treatment process.

Recently, Radiant Wrap discovered that they needed to have more of a presence in the health care marketplace so they came to alicebydesign for help. They needed some way to properly promote their line of designer wraps on the Amazon website. Alicebydesign was delighted to support them in this endeavor and promptly went to work. When the project was completed, they had beautiful lifestyle images that showcased the wraps in fashionable style. The storefront is now ‘LIVE’ and is already gaining traction as they continue helping cancer patients gain back their dignity.

Check out the Radiant Wrap storefront at:


About alicebydesign:
Alicebydesign is an award-winning graphic design and photography company specializing in corporate design, photography, and web services to companies across all markets including: high tech, medical, retail, services, real estate, and finance.

Alicebydesign delivers fresh creative solutions and clearly defined marketing strategies in a manner that supports consistent business growth and enhances brand equity. We provide a wide range of services from online marketing campaigns to photography to direct-mail and brochure design.

Windows 8 App Developments

What’s app?

We thought it would be a nice idea to provide you with updates on some of the latest projects we’re working on at alicebydesign. So here goes…

The slideshow of images above represents a series of Windows 8 Apps developed for Fujitsu America. These apps deliver their content through live tiles providing useful, at-a-glance data to the user. We worked with the Engineering Group at Fujitsu America to design a custom look for the start screens, logos, and splash screens.

The Fujitsu Train Calendar, Presentation Manager, Tag-a-pix, Landmarks Calendar, and Barcode Tracker Apps were all designed with a Japanese consumer audience in mind. Our research confirmed our beliefs that the Japanese culture is based on cuteness. Cute is a learned and taught gender stereotype in Japanese society. Cute elements can be found almost everywhere in Japan, from big business to corner markets and national government. Thus, the reason to focus our design efforts toward the cute and cool side.

Although we didn’t achieve Pokemon or Hello Kitty status we believe the look and the feel of the apps are fun and whimsical enough to appeal to the cute-crazed Japanese market. These apps will be available in the Win8 Store as well as part of the operating system which launches when the customer fires up the computer for the first time. The use of these apps provides users with some great choices that can make computing simpler, easier, or just more fun.

Curiosity is the Seed of Creativity

What was going through Alice’s head before she stepped through the looking glass? Was she contemplating a homework assignment or her upcoming visit to the dentist? I doubt it. Although Alice in this case, is a fictional character the same thought process can be related to that of a real person. Alice’s mind was free and open to exploration. Being so young, she had not developed a realistic understanding of the world yet. Her mind was open to wonder and imagination. Why else would she have followed a rabbit sporting a timepiece down his rabbit hole. No one really knows what she was thinking that day, except for Alice of course but what we do know is her mind was free of inhibitions. She had allowed her mind to accept the seed that would open a magical world without restrictions.

And just as Alice stepped through the looking glass into a world of imagination, so do we as designers need to fall into a time warp of our own. We need to free our minds and revert back to a child-like state. Free to explore without the clutter of our overbearing consciousness. When we clear our minds completely and unlock our subconscious, the world and everything in it becomes new again. This is how simple creativity is unlocked.

Take time out of your busy day to go to a park or the beach and sit alone with a fairy tale book and think of nothing but the simplicity of the words. You’ll be surprised how open your mind becomes to possibilities. Time outside is one of the best stimulants for imagination because the natural world provides endless avenues of exploration. Be that kid in a candy store again. Eyes wide open to all the new sounds, smells, and color. Look at things in a new light –– without limitation. Try to remember that first trip you took to a new place where everything was new and different. Remember how excited you were to see things that you hadn’t seen before. That’s what we need to do as designers. Look at things as if you were seeing it for the first time.

Creativity comes from the inner depths of our sub conscious. It’s like a seed that will only sprout if given the right nourishment. Throw out realistic understandings of how the world works and dream a little. Given the opportunity to dream and play, the mind will begin to flower and grow. Allow your imagination to be reawakened and it will flourish.

Alice Hlebo