How to think creative or visualize?

I know the tools, but I cannot create anything from my mind as I do not have any imagination or creativity, I can only trace and create as it is. What should I do? How can I be creative or visualize the things?

First I will introduce myself. My name is Jão Vitor, a graphic designer with more than 3 years of experience.

Let’s go to the answer. One thing I learned very early in my career was that we should always feed on references. It’s not wrong for you to see something and try to recreate it, on the contrary, it helps you learn new techniques and release new skills. Another point is that we don’t create anything from scratch, everything comes from our subconscious, it comes from something we’ve visualized before. A wonderful option is to go to portfolio sites like Behance and Dribble, where you can see a diversity of new designs.

I’ll leave my username on Behance, in case you want to take a look at my trajectory and possibly talk about design. profile name: João Vitor Silva Mendonça


Well, as long as you believe that to the extent that you affirm it like this, you’ll have a problem.

Think of creativity like a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened. Everyone has it, but not everyone can use it because it may have gone underdeveloped. One way to wake it up and start flexing it to better health is to observe and question. You can start getting the desired effect by observing and questioning anything, but the “creative solutions” of others are the best place to start, if the ability to formulate creative solutions of your own is the objective. When you see design that produces a positive reaction in you, analyze it; observe it’s effects, on you and others. Try to determine which aspects of it make it work, and/or whether there is something you’d have done differently. Then question it. Why did they do it that way? Why didn’t they do it this other way? Who were they targeting with it? Why does it work on the target? How does it work on the target? What kind of personality does it promote for the brand? How was it adapted across various applications, and how did the original core concept enable or hamper those adaptations?

You can really go on and on with it if you’re patient with the process, and ask more and more probing questions. You won’t be able to answer each one immediately without thinking deeper. This is the exercise, and deeper questions add weight to the dumbbell, loading the muscle harder. Do this with the next 10-20 designs you encounter — good or bad — and then start trying to apply that same probative approach to spur answers to creative solutions of your own. The muscle will have awakened, and rather than starting out your projects with blank canvas, you’ll be starting with stronger observation of the problem to be solved, questions resulting from those observations, and answers that provide creative fuel to pursue a direction.


Ha, history is good teacher and inspiration!

  1. see it from perspective of musician … first enjoy the show then take part in it as guest then as artist … You can follow the trend or try reinvent the wheel …

  2. its simple and simplicity can make You wise tho not unique, for that dont be shy to experiment with ideas …

  3. foremost decide are You gonna go the way of craftsman or hobo artist tho eventually You will end up somewhere again even if wandering with the ideas …

Imagination is translation of word in forms and vice versa, colors can emphasize them, going with the flow also counts so try contemplate the meaning behind the words and message that You want to share, try practice from fun when sketching even abstract art … combinations billion, but creativity strike comes solely from the surrounding or where the mind is dipping, again hold with one hand to history so would not fly away or could cushion down if fall instantly … seen like this You’ll need to remember just how Your Ancestors were finding joy even mids scarcity or hardships so You would never complain how empty You’ve got!

Hm, overthinking can also be issue, deadlines too, but above all think the burnout from overindulgence of social network triviality can exhaust the creative spark!, as everything its tasty when balance is the main rope for passing from day to day, for me that would be exploring some topic but not hooking on it!, luckily dont have bill for paying thus deadlines are never issue or work at all, and never bother whether my lines are perfect or will appeal to someone coz thrown my ego under the bus 23, only thing that gets me inspired is focus on afterlife coz seen some things that gave me will to step beyond the current masks of sanity or insanity, focusing on emotional intelligence from nativity than turbofolk trendsetting … hm, I’ll stop here coz eforum poetry became some wrong habit of mine …

If the pen is instrument the line is melody and the color rhythm or vice versa, for jam session always drink some more tea or coffee, and find some audience that will share from time to time applauding cookies, potentially in space full of natural if not wild habitat, tho designers tend to tilt in urban jungles and that from aspect of creativity is feat beyond comprehension, tho needed temptation coz consumeristic compatibility and chance to earn some from their work!

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… cant imagine how but creatives in history were probably mostly poor people …

… put some complementary world music too …

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Some of us are born with creative minds, but others aren’t. It is possible for us to learn to be creativity, and I think that takes practice. We take inspiration from what we see around us to help us get started. Once we get in some practice, creativity should become more natural to us.
I think this link would be very useful for someone trying to learn creativity. It gives a lot of useful and helpful tips and suggestions. If you search the internet, you can find a lot of useful articles on how to learn creativity. Here are some suggestions.

Be open to new experiences.
Surround yourself with colour.
Take time to go for walks.
Don’t be afraid to stand out.
Practice thinking ideas up with the help of the creative process.
Start with simple designs and work gradually up to more difficult projects.
Last, practice, practice and practice more.

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Well, that’s reassuring that taking ideas from references is not the bad thing, thank you for the suggestion regarding portfolio websites might be great for assets for collecting references, many thanks for this.

Honestly, I never know that everyone has creativity, I thought that some folks get lucky to have it. Thanks for the sharing the process of how I can unlock by imagination or creativity by observing different designs and thinking about them in the deep state. It might take time, but eventually if I keep it up consistently I just might be able to unlocked my creativity. Thanks for the in depth explanation.

I am sorry but lots of things I don’t understand from your reply, I am going to assume that you are suggesting me that I should think freely and don’t worry about other things. Also, I should surround my self with different creative folks. Moreover, I should read and research how in the past people overcomes the problem which they are facing.

Thanks for making the points in the bullets as it makes reading experience better. There are lots of great suggestion have been pointed out by you but the most important is:

Practice Practice and Practice.

Creativity thrives on three things: simplicity, opposite things, and unrelated things.

I am retired now, but for 50 years, I was a creative professional. When I was working, I would often pull out magazines, dictionary‘s, and books. With any project I have in mind, I would just pick up a magazine and start flipping pages. Then I would look at images of opposite, unrelated or simple things that just happened to tickle my mind.

Sometimes, I would just open a book or a dictionary, close my eyes, turn to a random page and just put my finger down, then open my eyes to see what word my finger landed on. I would write that word down then I would close my eyes and repeat. It’s amazing what can happen when you combine two or three unrelated things that have nothing to do with the project you were working on . For example:

I needed to create an ad for a Steakhouse that would go into a publication that would be sent to all of the organizations that were from out of state and coming to my city for conferences. I was using the magazine technique that day. As I was flipping through the pages, I saw an ad for Saab Aircraft engines. And the following thoughts raced through my mind in a flash!

—Saab is a French company.
—Local people would say they speak with a funny accent.
—The French speaking people would say my local people speak with a funny accent.
—Food has an accent.
—Kentucky Steaks have an accent!
—BANG! So the ad’s headline will read: “Great Food With A Kentucky Accent.”

It’s that simple. Try these techniques and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can become “creative!”

It doesn’t change the relevance of what you said, but Saab is a Swedish company.

Far more important than that is your technique of jogging one’s brain out of thinking inside a silo. I’ll need to try it sometime when I get frustrated about a solution that doesn’t come as easily as it should. I like the slogan you came up with. A Kentucky accent might not be noticeable to someone from Kentucky, but for an out-of-stater, it’s part of the unique experience of visiting there.

Fooling around.


hm Surround Yourself with experience of artists through the ages, its simple projecting technique for chasing inspiration when symbols had have different semiotic meaning or styles different interpretations …

hm hm hm I’ve first tried to compare design inspiration to the music composition … then tried to link tasting of the full (particular historic) vibe by the typical music from its time so You can visualise somehow more that historical inspiration eg. while listening to funk [1] strolling around retrofuturistic and scifi designs of '70s and '80s (graphic or applied art designs etc.) or if go deeper down in history link traditional world music to art from middle ages or antiquity also eg. You can shift between various styles from some ethnical realm etc. etc. alike combinations that will give You wider visualisation around the imagination process for chasing inspiration from history … also You can mix up the vibes epochs styles or randomise picking of inspiration pieces from different vibes like mixing used colours and forms from different times etc. etc. combinations so would reinvent the creativity wheal that was rolling throughout history!

  • hm, creativity comes from combing knowledge and experience, so Learn Debate Invent … at least find way to navigate around informations ~ for what could come handy wiki database visualization tools (which tho now are in some hickup [2])

Also it could be inspirational to experiment with different art tools and techniques and project that what message should express pass resonate, also thrown as simple communicating of the message or covert hidden complex cypher of some emotion event notion etc. practically Play with whatever You have at hand and give to it natural process of casual existence (here I go complex) imagination personification stylization metaphor etc. of nature and symbols, explaining symbols forms scenes ideas events as interconnected biological processes that surpass our social and dive in our collective unconscious noospheric world …

… long story short eg. the idea that Pen is Pen could be stretched in million combinations solely by attributes eg. it could be ink carrier which ink came from Amazon and its plastic from Japan plus as such if its used to sketch low tech knowhow suddenly ecological minimalism would hit the concept paper eg. for more organic steampunk scenes … even more long story short eg. Play by relations to related and unrelated ideas concepts projects norms tools [3] make things constructively live and their meaning appealing like Twitter Blue Bird with three legs … fun adds to the movement of expression and emotions … are birds farthing [4]

  • so Learn Play Debate Invent and/or vice versa!, foremost step out from the boredom zone of tilting in front of soc.nets or tv overindulgence, change Your info habits or media tools so would not hook for good on some and like that becoming moulded by triviality instead creativity!

Go taste some new food and start preparing it in own way so would brake eventual cycle of habits, yeah eventual needed defocusing from repetitive dullness it could start with the taste in Your mouth so would electrify the senses and find emotions in some visualization of Your imagination … yeah its not same if drink Tequila with Taco and/or eat Taco with Coke, dont be afraid to experiment too eg. drinking Tequila while listening Tako [5] at the end of the bottle if not else else will find escape from Your entrapped imagination, tho I’ll not advise getting hooked on such escape altho there are some interesting ropes for those that got addicted to muse up their inspiration from spirits [6] especially problematic like this would be that You’ll open Your Nous for demonic hijack and like that drop in shadow mode creativity what would be wrong if design by itself should resonate beauty … btw in same time Dont Take Me Serious … if need just to spark instant creativity copy paste of some shape and hit the Blender … plugins can come handy too!, tho try even for that to make storyboard among expectations and possibilities of idea translation [7] instead just randomness from some software mixer … hm I am currently inspired by footnoting links in eforums when while research some topic bump on extra amount of interlinked dimensions and like that getting some extra ideas what should do next or what could come out from it!

I’ve forgot to mention when exploring this kind of creativity chase try not to end up in the spiritual realm and hooking in the end eg. on logomancy [1] dont risk going in such pagan mode when mixing history too, simply abstract interpretations of reality could get extra wrong once tied to symbols whether somewhere mentioned earlier or empowered currently with meaning!, practically like that You will open Your Nous for demonic vibe what would not be wise if You are after true beauty!

I’ve found that the harder I think about it, the less creative I get. Everyone seems to have a different means of coming up with creative ideas. Mine usually pop up randomly somewhere around 2am or often when I’m overtired. Which is pretty much all the time these days. (sigh)

Thanks B. You’re right. I guess it’s because the ad showed the engines on a French military aircraft. I only glanced at the photo and that was my inspiration. Perhaps I should have read the body copy? (LOL)

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I find this interesting personally, ever since starting on a particular psychiatric medicine I found my ability to visualize felt neutered. I’m not sure why, but I think it takes an understanding of the self and the world around us to be able to create images in your mind. Seeking out references can help.

well said ! jao Vitor

Haziq! it’s Abdul Rehman, hope you are fine, First thing is to be confident and don’t feel down anything about yourself , because the hard truth about creating something new is rely on this formula : COPYTRANSFORM– then COMBINE , and after time you’ll get able to create something very easily.

best wishes for you!
in case to any help my behance username: Abdul Rehman

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