Exercises to Cultivate Your Creativity

By LaurenMarie

Creativity is not just about how good of a designer you are, it’s about how well you can solve problems and find connections between seemingly unrelated ideas.

How to Have Creative Ideas

How to Have Creative IdeasThere is a great book that I did a review on a while back called How to Have Creative Ideas by Edward de Bono.  In this book, you will find 62 games or exercises designed to help you learn to make connections where none appear on the surface. This won’t showcase the latest design trends or the hottest new designer that cuts himself up for his designs, but it will teach you to expand your creative muscles so that you can have better ideas and begin to see the bigger picture. Read my review for a more in-depth look at How to Have Creative Ideas.


Von Glitschka is a fantastically talented illustrator. He knows that you need to take time to play and follow “creative rabbit trails” as he likes to call them. Doodling is a great way to do that! Von includes a short PDF with his downloads called Why Doodle? where he lists the benefits of doodling, including improving your drawing and abstract thinking abilities and, of course, it’s FUN!

Glitschka has developed and shared many creative exercises via his tutorial blog, IllustrationClass.com. I remember doing these squiggle line doodles with my mom when I was little. She would draw a line and I would have to make something of it. The only rule we had was that it couldn’t be a face (that’s usually too easy!).

My Doodles

(yes, those are my doodles. The red line was the squiggle given to start).

The following Doodle Sheets should get you started:

Have a go! What will you come up with? Check out his other Creative Exercises, too!


Speaking of doodling, how could I not mention RaShell and her fabulous doodle-centered blog, doodlage? I love all the images she shares on her blog and because of her, I’ve started trying more doodles myself, especially in long boring meetings (sshh! Don’t tell!).


I’ve noticed that doodling teaches me to not be critical of my initial ideas. It has taken practice, but I’m letting my mind and hand wander more and more and it helps me be motivated to do more thumbnail sketches before moving to the computer to flesh out comps for design projects. The more thumbnails I do, the more I push myself to keep coming up with different layouts and different design styles, the better the final product is.

Thanks, RaShell! You’re an inspiration!

Before & After

Tom’s goal with his creative thinking blog is to encourage people to look at familiar things in a different way. The “What Do You See?” posts are an excellent visual representation of this goal. Tom takes a familiar outline (a guitar case) and challenges readers to come up with other ideas of what could occupy this relatively simple shape.

Guitar Case History

Similar to Von’s squiggly line exercise, but with a twist!

Image Streaming

Have you ever heard of image streaming? I hadn’t before I found Creative Thinking With… (excuse the design because the content of this site is spectacular).

I haven’t tried out this Image Streaming yet, but I think it could be particularly helpful with us visual folks. The Creative BOO! would be especially useful! You have to take time out of your busy schedule to relax and let your mind wander to generate great ideas, but you know it’ll pay off!

Are there any other creative exercises that you like to use to stimulate ideas and figure out innovative solutions to the problems you’re facing? How have these methods helped you?

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