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An illustration of a bear with a taped-up mouth and the text 'Ted... not just a talking bear.'

TED – Not just a talking bear…

It's all about TED

Graphic Designers… We’re an ironic bunch. A little too ironic. We’re jam-packed full of creativity and ideas yet we confined ourselves to the same 4 walls, day in, day out.  Same old routines and practises.  It’s easy for the creativity to fade away. Become stale.  Just like that piece of bread you forgot about in the back of the bread bin.  The one you accidentally brush with your fingers, resulting in an over dramatic face spasm and continuous heaving motion.  In times of need, it’s important to brush off the cobwebs and search for those new, fresh ideas and inspirations because boring ideas + stale work = unhappy clients. And no one wants an unhappy client. 

Illustration of a green alien shooting mouldy bread with a green laser and the text 'Pew pew'

How to get out of the rut?

So what do we do when our creativity dries up? We have to take ourselves out of the situation, break away from our laptops and computers and get away.  Far away.  Not always physically but mentally as well.  We had a group discussion one day (in our new fancy meeting room might I add) to think of different ways we could all help to recharge our brains.  One question high up on the list was “Where do we get this inspiration from?” PinterestBehance? Yes these are all good forms of inspiration but we shouldn’t always rely on these sources.  Sometimes you can take inspiration from the strangest of things.  Take a look out the window, look at the surrounding landscape, does anything spark an interest? The different shades of green of the mountain tops, the architecture of the surrounding buildings, the competitors van sitting in the car park.  What about taking a trip to the museum? Reading books from the local library.  This is all relative for every design brief given. However, as the discussion unravelled, one common idea was to sit down and listen to some inspirational speakers.  Not necessarily from designers, but speakers, covering all subjects and topics to see if that would spark new ideas, new ways of thinking and to help develop motivation and morale within our team.

Illustration of a brain with the name tag Elvis, carrying a briefcase and walking away from a building with the text 'He's left the building'


What are TED talks?

Illustration of a bear with pixellated genitals and the text 'not you ted'

TED talks are short, powerful talks (usually about 18mins long) which cover technology, entertainment and design.  It’s a platform for spreading ideas with the intention to inspire, challenge and to thought-provoke.  It shares ideas from a broad spectrum – from science to business to global issues – and in more than 100 languages world-wide.  So how does this relate to us?  Well we watched our first TED talk today… A talk by Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?  It was brilliant.  So funny and wait for it…INSPIRING!  In the short video clip he explained a young girl who could not concentrate in class.  A fidget-er if you will.  These days, people would instantly jump to the conclusion that she had ADHD and try to prescribe her medication.  But instead, her teacher told her mother to take her to a dance class.  That young girl was called Gillian Lynne. The choreographer for the musical CATS.  Instead of giving her the proper guidance, they wanted to throw drugs at the problem.  Not literally of course.  But by understanding the problem they were able to push the little girl to her full potential and managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one.  I like to think this was our first UREKA-KA-KA-KA moment (to quote Reeves and Mortimer).  That there will always be challenges and obstacles in our lives, things trying to knock us down.  So, before we wave the white flag and beg for mercy, we need to find a specific solution to the problem.  To find the positive in the negative.  So that we create more Gillian Lynnes. More Bill Gates. Mo Farrahs.



So what now?

I’m not saying we’re all going to change careers and become leaders of the local political parties.  To share ideas and inspire the next generation.  But by listening to that one 18 minute video, we all came out feeling a lot more motivated, happier and inspired than ever before.  So from this day forward, we’re going to take 20/40 mins out of our day to sit and watch these videos.  In the morning of course, so that it sets us up for the day.  To get that "Grab the day by its balls" feeling. To make us feel we can accomplish and achieve anything.  To put us in that positive frame of mind. And that day, every week, will be called ‘TED TALK TUESDAYS!’ (Sometimes on a Wednesday).

Ramblings of a graphic designer. 


I listen to stand up comedy. I often find the most ‘eureka’ creative ideas start off as a bit of a joke - imagine pitching ‘Compare the Meerkat’! I feel like it trains my brain to look for the positive in everyday situations too, so instead of seeing a design ‘hurdle’ it becomes an opportunity - Scott Taylor

I find that listening to music really helps me get inspired. I like to find a style of music that will work for the work I will be designing and then seeing what comes to me. Also getting outside and getting the blood pumping, most of my ideas have come to me whilst I’ve been out running. It’s just a task trying to remember the idea by the time I get back home – Mathew Bevan

When I start to feel that my creativity is wavering and I need some inspirational reenergising, I have some tricks that I can use to increase my productivity and appetite for design. After a particularly unproductive day I find that an obscure film will expose me to different ideas, styles and sensibilities that I can then interpret in different ways throughout my work - Dr Jac ‘The Truth’ Bryant

What inspires me the most is coming together and working as a team and bouncing ideas off each other as a group as many minds are better than one - Holly Morgan

“Videos I watch, music I hear and literature I read, they all play a massive part in my inspirations for the projects I work on, often without me even realising. If I have time I will seek out relevant content for an upcoming project for inspiration but its rare these days, I often find that my inspiration is a product of my day to day life and as long as I continue to seek out and learn new things hopefully it will continue” – David Thomas, OBE

"I love walking my dogs, spending time in the Welsh outback wallowing in the sweet sweet mud. Mountain biking keeps me fit and de-techifies my free time to allow my mind time to think and be inspired by what’s around me. We’re reliant too much on technology and this makes us stale and unimaginative as we regurgitate the same old ideas. Grab every day!  Get out, see the world around us, breathe that fresh air, do the moon walk and challenge your body as well as your mind" - Andrew Minton

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