Capitalize on creative moments

I am graphic designer. I work 9am to 5pm making things and I work 5pm to 9am  thinking about things that I want to make. If you are in a creative industry and you love what you do, you work 24 hours a day. However, you only get paid for 8 if you’re lucky. You get paid if you are good at what you make and you’re only good at what you make if your ideas are worth making.

If a cow in a field eating grass is viewed as lazy and a cow being milked is viewed as productive ask yourself how good is that milk going to be if the cow never stops to eat grass?

My guess is she will stop producing milk all together.

What happens to a cow that doesn’t produce a product (aka milk)?

Ask those leather shoes in your closet.








A bit dramatic, I know, but you get the point.

Blain Hogan says in his book Untitled, “No one cares about your ideas, they care about the execution of the vision.”

What I have done is figured out when I am most creative and little things I can do to prepare myself for when that big idea hits.

Please note that most of these don’t happen between the hours of 9am and 5pm.

In the car to and from work:

Keep a small sketchbook in the passenger seat at all times and your camera phone handy. When that idea flashes in your brain, write it down. And when you see that awesome color combination in the graffiti on that boxcar, snap a picture. These moments are fast and chances are you won’t remember them by the time you get where you are going, so capture them quickly.

In the shower:

Crayola makes crayons for the bathtub. Buy them and sketch everything on the shower wall. Whether it’s song lyrics or that next site map,  get it on the wall.


Some of the best ideas come right before you fall asleep, in the middle of the night, or right when you wake up. Put a sketchbook on your nightstand with a pencil. If you charge your phone next to your bed, download a note taking app. Even if your idea is so groggy that it doesn’t make sense, write it down anyway. It might be crystal clear when you wake up.

Playing with kids:

Kids’ brains are all over the place. They have no limit of creativity (yet). Record the pictures they draw and stories they tell. Sit back and just watch them. Watch how they interact with each other.  Watch the pretend scenarios their new happy meal toy gets into. It’s inspiring.


Your creativity can be fueled by just observing different surroundings. Whether it’s flying half way around the world or just taking a different route home from work, purposely expose yourself to different surroundings. This can trigger ideas later.

Take yourself on a ‘creative date’:

Go to an art show by yourself. Sit in a bookstore alone. You may feel like a loner, but trust me, taking someone with you will screw up the vibe. If you’re alone, you can set your own pace and focus on what inspires you. Personally, I love going to antique and thrift shops. There is something about being surrounded by junk that could be repurposed or displayed that gets my wheels spinning.

Side project:

Do something creative for yourself, your family or friends.  Example: last Christmas I created trading cards instead of Christmas cards and gave them to all our family and friends. There was no real point to it other than just creating for fun. After all, that is why we do what we do, right? Before money/status/responsibility/ came into play, we just created because we had fun doing it.


Don’t download that photoshop brush. Go to the art supply store and buy a brush and some paint. Sure, you can run a photo through instagram…or take a photo with film. It’s like a breath of fresh air.


Hang out with people who fuel you, who are more creative than you, who are pros in a different field than you, who push you in positive directions and get you out of your comfort zones.


How does a marshmallow taco taste? What happens when you put dish soap on a trampoline? How do you catch a 70lb black lab in a large box?  Try it.

Watch: LabTrap

*video credit: Dale Norman


The lessons one learns from trying something and failing will stick with you forever.  Remember to always look back. What worked? What didn’t? Try again.

Failing is always better than never trying.

Where & when are you most creative? Got any other tips on how to capture it?

Kevin Bruinsma (7 Posts)

I am a husband, father, and artist. Originally from Grand Rapids, MI I fell into a job at Fairly Painless Advertising. From there a love for design was born. I decided to get my bachelors’ degree from Ferris State University. I studied under two great designers from Herman Miller. I moved to NWI in 2006 and am currently working at Faith Church in Dyer. I am going on six years here and love it.