Interaction Design Rut

In an audio post I did a few days ago, I talked about interaction design and my experiences as a graphic designer. It is amazing to me the process that goes into the creation of things, be it an iPod or a design poster. In Designing for interaction, Saffer talks about gathering information for design. He says, “thanks to a little thing called the Internet, we now have access to information quickly and easily from many different sources. Very few projects are in the area that no one has thought about before.” This is absolutely true, but the fact remains, everybody gets in a bit of a creative rut sometimes.

Scott Hanson recently posted a blog called, Overcoming The Creative Block. In this, he received quotes from 25 designers and creatives on what they do to combat the lack of creative juices. As I type this I am getting distracted from this, as a friend sent me a video about obsolete video formats. I’m sure many of you bloggers go through the same issues. A lot of the creatives had some interesting bits of advice in this blog. Some cook food, listened to music, travel or simply take their mind of the work and get away from the computer all together. Chad Hagen’s advice resonated best with me,

Staying creative is hard work. Honestly, I don’t think when I got into art school I was very talented at all. I struggled to stand out. I struggled to stay in school. Staying creative was hard work. BUT, the one thing that kept me focused was my desire to be good. I wanted to be really good. I wanted to be as good as those people that WERE talented. I used to think I would eventually, if I worked hard enough, master art like a math equation and then I could relax and just make great stuff and let everything else follow. That time definitely never came, and I know now I never want it to, because the most important thing that keeps me creative is my wanting to be good. So if I’m ever in a rut, the best things to get me out of them is to put myself in places that engage that desire to be good. In a general sense this means to get out and be expose to others creating. In my opinion, there is no better way to trigger your own creativity, than to see what great things others have made or are making. Going to museums, galleries, shows, etc. always inspires my mind in a way that make me want to get back into my own work and make good things.

I really needed that advice 5 years ago, but it still rings true. I failed classes as an immature youth. I assumed everything would fall in place. In some respects, some things have. I reached a point (late) in my undergrad career where I was no longer content “getting a good grade.” I wanted and still want to be good, really good. I look at some peers in my ICM grad class and strive to match some of the work I see. I used old coworkers with great deals of experience as mentors and want to match their levels. Like Hagen says, why sit back and relax and let it all flow? You still have to challenge yourself. So when I have to create something for a job or school, I look at the great work that others are doing and get jealous. Not in a “sinful” way, but in a way that drives me to attempt to match those levels of hard work.

Why did I post a column about being in a rut? Well, all this talk about designing has kind of drained me out of ideas so in a way, this is therapeutic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get distracted.


  • Saffer, D. (2007). Designing for interaction. Berkeley: New Riders, pp. 1-68.
  • Hanson, S. (2010). Overcoming The Creative Block.
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