Fight the block!

As designers, our job is to find solutions to a problem that was given to us in the form of a brief. These questions never have one answer. It maybe ends with a final solution (that the client has chosen). However, it never starts with one. There are multiple answers and depending on the designer’s experience and interpretation, these can vary from one individual to another. The process changes as well, but there is one thing that is the same for everyone: creative block.

There are several ways to deal with it and overcome it. The technique that I use isn’t the best nor it is the worst. It is just the one that works best for me. Whenever I feel that I can’t work, find a solution, or am going in circles, I just take a break. However, I do not go outside, read a book or go and sit in front of a mirror to slap my face hard whilst screaming to myself “Moron!”. Instead, I just sit back, relax and listen to some good old jazz. Something along the lines of Miles Davis, Sun Ra or Benny Goodman. Basically, anything that can free my mind from thinking. I then focus on the music.

But why jazz in particular? Probably because it is the freest form of music that you can listen to. I believe that it is for that particular reason that it will free your mind – actually, mine – from the struggles of a design job. The fact that I put my focus on something that isn’t visual helps me in rebooting my brain. It is kind of like when I go on holiday.

At the end of the day, the simple fact that you disconnect yourself completely from the environment you’re in makes a huge difference. Thus, listening to jazz gives me a boost of energy, and that is because it actually brings me joy. We all know very well that we can’t get anything done if we are in a bad mood. So I’d say this, if you’re in doubt or you feel that you are in that weird space where you can’t get anything done, go to a happy place. Be it by watching a film, reading a book, going for a run or listening to jazz.

The W

It is at the beginning of the early 2000’s that I started to give Hip-Hop a lot more attention. I was reading books and magazines about the culture, as well as watching documentaries about it and listening to rap. There is something that stroke me while learning about the culture. Logos. The logos that rappers, rap groups, clothing brands and crews had been unheard of – to me. I was astonished by the aesthetics involved in Hip-Hop’s visual identity. One of the logos hit me more than any other. Wu-Tang Clan’s “W”.

This logomark fascinated me and still does today. I remember being obsessed with it, spending hours drawing it from memory on any piece of paper that I had. It was like if I was possessed. There was a certain satisfaction in being able of (massively) reproducing such an iconic logo. I would then try to draw the different variations of it. I did this because I had found something that spoke to me. The thing is that I had not yet heard any of their music, but was able to still understand the importance of the mark. Not what it meant but more what it represented: the strength in numbers and that the unity of the rap group was as strong as the roots of a 300-year-old tree. It was just like in the old Kung-Fu and Shaolin flicks that my uncle used to watch. It is a symbol of truth, unity and honour and remains one of my favourite logos out there. Not only I have a strong connection to it due to my love for Hip-Hop, but it is also a logo that remains relevant after 20 years of existence, which is the most important that a logo has to do. Stay relevant.