08 November 2006
Robin Landa, How Magazine
Robin Landa, How Magazine

Even if the kids kept you up all night. Even if you have 12 projects on your desk. Even if your partner bounced a check. You must be creative, no matter what. Year after year, project after project, big project, small budget,... we're expected to be creativity machines simply because we're creative professionals.

There at times when, as designers, we get too drained to expend the energy to explore a new concept. Other times, we get too comfy and become reluctant to venture into new territory.

Some of us want to explore, try new methods or take a creative leap out of the safety zone into the realm where dazzling ideas happen. We just need the smallest inspirational push in order to make the jump. Creative jolts can help. Creative jolts are specific visual approaches, exercises and examples that you can use to spur new thinking, original ideas and unusual design directions. They can dislodge you from your safety zone, pry your creativity loose and keep your work exciting and fresh for both you and your clients.

Whenever you need a stimulating point of departure from which to jump into solving a design problem, consider employing the type of visual thinking exhibited in the following creative jolts.

Illusion of Movement
Illusion engages us by toying with our perception of space and reality. We ask, "Is this real?"
Movement is a type of illusion; because print is a still medium, creating the impression of movement is Houdini-like. It's
magical. You can create the illusion of movement on a 2D surface -- think, for example, of centripetal-like movements, cartoons that imitate motion or patterns that suggest movement.

Illusion of Sound
Print is also a silent medium, so the illusion of sound engages another sense, thereby capturing our attention. Can you "hear" a poster? Absolutely. Does type have a "voice"? You bet. In one of his famous ads, Herb Lubalin made the word "cough" sound like a cough by breaking up the type.

Illusion of 3D
From ancient Roman times to the present, artists have delighted in amazing their audiences with the illusion of 3D space on a 2D surface using such techniques as trompe l'oeil and visual textures. Because this technique requires skillful manipulation of the picture plane, very few graphic designers venture into the illusionary territory, which makes this jolt all the more rare and potentially seductive to an audience.

About this article
The above article by Robin Landa originally appeared in the February, 2001 issue of HOW Magazine and appears here with permission. 2000 HOW Magazine.

About Robin Landa
Robin Landa is a designer, creative consultant and professor of graphic design at Kean University in Union, NJ. Landa is co-author, along with Rose Gonnella and Denise Anderson, of "Creative Jolt"
(North Light Books, 2000,

This article is based in part on "Creative Jolt" as well as Landa's
work-in-progress, a book about creative thinking.

About How
HOW is a leading U.S. publication for the graphic design profession, offering a comprehensive mix of business advice, creative inspiration, design insights and personal profiles.