In his talk entitled “The General Theory of Relative Creativity” for SXSW, Jim Coudal quickly touched on a concept he accurately termed “The Tyranny of a Blank Page.” He probably had no idea just how true that rang for me.
As a designer, this is a menace I face time and time again. Whether on a computer or my sketchbook, an empty canvas is difficult to face. As an optimist, it holds endless possibilities; as a pessimist, too much pressure. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle: the doors are wide open, but if I fill my page with something that isn'’t great, it almost feels like a waste.
Here’s one technique that I’ve found very useful:
I typically start a page in my sketchbook with some found element, whether that’s a sticker, a magazine clipping, or a photograph. It acts as an anchor, a seed that sprouts the rest of the page. When I'm finished with that page, that element has become a part of my creation, my page as a whole. On a digital canvas, that anchor point may be an asset, such as an illustration you plan to integrate or possibly even a client’s logo.
Small techniques like this allow for very large breakthroughs. I’ve learned that it’s always easier to revise that to create. Getting hung up on a place to start should be the least of your worries, so hopefully I’ve given you a possible solution to get past it.
How do you conquer the tyranny of a blank page?