• Ricky Hayes

What is Your Creative Process?

One of the most frequently asked questions of creative people applying for a creative job position is — what interests you most about this job? The second most frequently asked question in a job interview for a creative position is — what is your creative process? I am technically creative, literally speaking. So, I understand that this question comes from an analytical brain questioning my ability to harness the chaotic cyclone that is my thoughts. What I have learned about this questioning of my creative process over the years is to not focus so much on how I creatively function, but what heightens my creative function? Reword the question to "what freedoms do you need to thrive in being the best possible creative person you can be?"

Thus, my creative processes stem from six different things:

  1. Experimentation

  2. Freedom to Fail

  3. Quality Time

  4. Collaboration

  5. Analysis

  6. Aesthetic Stimulation


Give me a lab, and I shall bring method to my madness. Place me in a room where I can explore the creative confines of my untamable imagination. Experimentation is about play, playing with ideas, and how the pieces of the puzzle that is being created shall fit together. Every creative person needs this space. Usually, employers see this in the way one's office is decorated. Or even the way a cubical is arranged, despite them being a hindrance to creativity. A proper lab needs a window to the outside world so that the mind doesn't feel trapped. There's nothing worse than placing a creative person in an office with no windows or view of people.

Freedom to Fail

In email marketing, there's always an A & B testing to discover which created design performs best over time. The same is for exploring creative ideas and designs. Let's take logo design for example. If someone expects the first draft of a logo to be the final design, they're either dim-witted or just insane. The process of design doesn't work like that, for obvious reasons. We're searching for the right look and feel that best represents the identity of a company. So, why would an employer expect a creative person to get it right the first time? If a project does not turn out with the expected quality, it is more than likely the creative process was not given enough time to fail — meaning that time management was not properly observed. Giving the creative process time to fail is essential in reworking to mold a more desired outcome.

Quality Time

I believe time is the most valuable thing we have because we do not possess it, but we are always investing in it. Quality time refers to planning and scheduling out the creative process. While quantity of time is needed, it is not always available, as in the business world things can suddenly arise that need swift, creative attention. Graphic Designers, for example, who desire to become better and more qualified for better positions should become quicker in how they function in design programs such as learning shortcut keys. But quality time is not so much time-consuming as it is a time saver. It is knowing where the target is, allowing the creative process to focus on hitting the mark.


Not every creative process needs collaboration. However, collaboration is a stoking mechanism for the creative "forge" and is necessary to gain insight into structuring creative ideas. While it is important to be in solitude for a time, as it frees the mind of obligations. I do not believe the creative process can be all that it can be without the eyes of others. This is why it's important to have people read the book you've written or the design you've created. Communication and interpretation are essential to how something is received. What's important to remember is that while solitude may free us from obligations, which can hinder our thoughts with unnecessary pressures like feeling trapped or sieged by time constraints — collaboration is a refuge to analyze our creative ideas and hone them in the business world where time is invaluable.


In my early career, analysis was a constant problem. Perfectionism, I believe is what it is called. Perfectionists often find themselves unable to finish a creative project because they are constantly perfecting it. The project constantly goes back through the creative lab and into the experimentation process where it becomes stuck, taking up valuable headspace. I had to learn to "flush the cache" so to speak. A creative analysis should be for studying the data to see what worked and what didn't work in the final presentation, much like email marketing A & B testing. My approach in overcoming my perfectionism was not so much creative as it was technical. When I found myself having a tough time not focusing on a finalized project, I pushed my mind into a technical space like folding laundry. Get the lines right.

Aesthetic Stimulation

Sometimes just removing myself from my head completely works for taking my focus off of past creative projects or even current ones. I tend to seek out peaceful things when I know my mind needs a break. Most often, I find myself watching Bob Ross — that wonderful painter who can put many of us at ease or even sleep just by listening to the sound of his voice. One of the greatest comments I heard him say about painting was sometimes you just need to step away. This is so for the creative process. Find something to step into, and away from a problem or issue. Do something with little to no effort like watching a show or playing a video game — maybe even read a book. Finding aesthetic stimulation is not hard. Go for a walk in nature, get outside for some vitamin D, have lunch at your favorite place, and think about just how wonderful it is to have a chance to be creative.

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