7 killer ways to keep your creative juices flowing

Leading designers share top tips for saying motivated, and give a hint of what to expect on Computer Arts' 20th birthday.

To celebrate Computer Arts' 20th anniversary and 250th issue, the magazine is unleashing a bumper special collector's edition on Friday 5 February.

Inside, leading creatives reveal the biggest lessons they've learned, and the issue is bursting with tips, tricks and expert advice for becoming a better designer or illustrator – a tiny taster of which you'll find here...

Reserve your copy now

To guarantee your copy – and save up to a massive 63% in the process – subscribe to Computer Arts by Wednesday 20 January.

In the meantime, read on for pro tips for keeping the creative juices flowing from seven of the world-class designers and illustrators featured inside Computer Arts' special 20th anniversary issue...

01. Find solutions in problems

To mark the 50th anniversary of the British road sign, Lundgren+Lindqvist was invited to transform the familiar signs

"Creative blocks are often caused by what at a first glimpse seems to be an unsolvable problem," says Andreas Lundgren, art director and co-founder of Swedish design studio Lundgren+Lindqvist.

"Treat these problems or limitations as assets and allow them to guide and influence your solution."

02. Look at the bigger picture

"Life as a designer isn't always easy, and when things aren't going so well it can be hard to step back and see the bigger picture," admits Greig Anderson, co-founder and creative director at Freytag Anderson.

"It only takes a lost pitch or a difficult client at times to knock your confidence, and that can make it hard to pick up the pencil and go again. In these situations I always find it helps to remind yourself that there is more to life than design."

"Get back to basics – to the core idea of what you are trying to convey," continues Anderson. "I try to shut the blogs, books and inspiration sites and open the sketchbook."

"I think that the ability to see so much so quickly online these days becomes prohibitive to the design process. I find it makes it harder, and the area for original thinking (if there is still such a thing now?) become even smaller.

03. Keep thinking

Blow studio created 30 original mascots to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hong Kong's largest Japanese style department store

"Doing personal work besides commercial projects can give you room to think and know more about yourself," says Ken Lo, founder of award-winning Hong Kong-based design studio Blow.

"There are so many interesting people, stories and objects every day. I like to observe people's behaviour; you can always find useful information about them. Explore the city and don't stuck in the office."

04. Take time out

Australian artist and designer Gemma O'Brien advises allowing time where you don't try to think of an idea. "Running, riding a bike, having a shower, going for a walk and sitting on a plane are perfect free thinking spaces to generate new ideas."

"Also, look outside of the field of art and design," she continues, "and allow yourself to be influenced by literally anything in the world around you."

05. Watch the design scene

"I look around and see what people are doing," says Buenos Aires-based motion graphics designer Esteban Diácono. "This year I discovered a bunch of people doing 'everydays' (a piece a day, every day)."

"The ever present Beeple has been doing it for eight years, but this year, thanks to Octane Render and other amazing, affordable tools, the community has grown exponentially."

"I can't do an everyday project – I really, really, don't have the time – but having this endless stream of creativity delivered to your feed is amazing and refreshing."

"So, my biggest tip? Look for inspiration and get to work. Doing even the smallest thing, learning even a little trick, will make your day worthwhile."

06. Appreciate what you have

"How do I stay motivated? The circumstances into which I was born are a huge motivator," says Northern Ireland-based graphic designer and writer David Airey.

"I know how different things could have been — perhaps born into poverty, or passed from care home to care home. The luck of life's cruel draw."

07. Take a walk

Studio Small has worked with the Margaret Howell brand for 10 years

"I go for a walk," says Studio Small owner David Hitner, "work on another project or talk it through with Guy Marshall, my fellow partner at StudioSmall."

"Also," he adds, "have experiences and reference points beyond your own industry. Work on a variety of projects. Keep learning."

Why CA 250 is a collector's item

For the first time in history – and in a celebration of the power of print – Computer Arts is doing an epic split run of issue 250, making 20 different options of its 20th anniversay cover avaliable to choose from, thanks to a top secret creative collaboration.

Illustrated by two of best designers in the world and embellished with a stunning cocktail of print treatments, this is one milestone edition of Computer Arts not to miss.

Computer Arts issue 250 is on sale 5 February 2016. Subscribe by Wednesday 20 January to guarantee your copy and save up to 63%.

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Julia Sagar is a commissioning editor and writer for Creative Bloq, Computer Arts, net, 3D World and IFX magazines. Tweet her @JuliaSagar