The 3 R’s Issue.
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Sep 6, 2016

Happy Tuesday, friends! Apologies for the tardiness—that three day weekend, amirite? Anyway, welcome to the 6th issue of TLDR: The 3 R’s Issue. Today, we’ll talk about my recent case of designer’s block and an alliterative technique I used to push through it.

Missed the last issue? How dare you. Here’s a link to get caught up.


Designer’s Block

You hear about writer’s block all the time, but what about designer’s block? I’m referring to those times when you’re feeling inspired, focused and eager to unleash your creativity unto the blank canvas in front of you… the only problem is the huge, cricket-filled void in your mind where your idea should be.


I recently encountered this obnoxious foe while thinking of concepts for a client video. We’d done several, similar videos for them in the past and I couldn’t, for the life of me, unsee them. If my brain were a record, it would be skipping on the same line of the song, over and over.

I felt frustrated and creatively paralyzed. Why couldn’t I think of anything else? 


To combat this designer’s block, I remembered something Chris Do shared with me. It was from Douglas Davis’ book, “Creative Strategy and the Business of Design,” called scenario analysis:

“Scenario analysis is a way to anticipate and
think through the impact of each option we recommend to our client… as designers, we often generate what seems like hundreds of sketches before selecting three options…

At best, these options are not just variations of the same thing, they are Rhinoceros, Rainbow, and Rhombus… completely different ways to solve the same problem.”

- Douglas Davis

Interesting, right? Here’s how those three concepts break down and how you can use them to push through any creative block you come across:

The Rhinoceros

What is the product’s strength? What does it do better than anything else? Think about it's purpose and study the brand voice. Once you identify the strength(s), come up with ideas that communicate and bolster those strengths. It could be as simple as metaphor. 


The Rainbow

What colors are associated with the product? Take a look at the greater branding and the color palette that make up the product. Is there a way to design an idea around it’s use of color? What other things share that color? Is there a way to juxtapose them?

The Rhombus

What shape is the product? Examine it from all angles. Take photographs of it lit from different angles. Look at it in new ways and study what’s unique about the form. Maybe there’s an idea centered around it's silhouette or the characteristics of it's shape.


These techniques are simply different lens through which to look at the same problem. Another method to get your brain thinking about alternative directions. Next time you hit a creative roadblock, give them a shot. It worked for me.


Reference Roundup

Chris Do
My mentor and one of the smartest people I know.

Creative Strategy And The Business of Design
By Douglas Davis



And there goes number six. Thanks for sticking with me, TLDReros— there’s plenty more to come! Send any questions, suggestions and creative block stories to me in the shape of a tweet. I’d love to read them. 

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