What do you do when your creative mind takes a vacation?

In early 2017, the Carnival Group approached Omniplex about a possible project to create their current face to face induction program as an elearning course. It sounded a great project, and we were excited to get started on our sales proposal.

Creating a concept for our proposal came to me, and this felt like a great opportunity to get really creative as the client was open to anything. And then disaster struck. I completely lost my creative mojo. What was supposed to be a fun proposal turned into one of the hardest projects I have ever had to create a concept for.

An initial idea came to mind, but when put into the format of a mini storyboard in PowerPoint, I felt that it didn’t really work, so it was ditched.  On to concept 2, but again when the initial ideas where put on a PowerPoint slide, it didn’t feel quite right and again it was ditched…

Are you sensing the pattern yet?

Imagine this cycle of concept – storyboard – delete going on for over two weeks…   that was my life….  my creativity had completely left me. What sounded a great concept initially both in my head, and when discussed with teammates just didn’t translate to the visual format of elearning.

I hit a real brick wall as far as this sales concept went. Luckily for us, the client contact was on leave so we had a longer window than usual to put our proposal together. My only option by this stage was to leave the project alone and work on something else.

It helped. New day… new outlook…  so, I went back to my first task with any project – researching the client. I found lots of information about the Carnival Group, including their outlook, and had a great insight into their cruise ships. But I still had no inspiration for a concept, and my teammates were drawing a blank as well.

And then we got a random break through. During the extensive research, I happened to come across an out of the way auction site that was selling a teddy bear from one of the cruise ships. It caught my imagination, and I had a glimmer of a lightbulb moment.

So, research shifted to looking into these bears.  It turns out that each cruise line in the Carnival Group has its own souvenir bear sold in the on-board gift shop.  The bears are specific to each cruise line and are specific to the year. There is a huge group of people who are collectors of these bears.

Maybe a bear could be the focus of my design? It is a generic, globally understood item. And it is gender/race neutral which is vitally important.

Starting to create a mini storyboard put the bear in context and helped to identify what worked and what would not. I wanted to use the bear in a range of settings to create their journey from receiving their letter to joining the ship. I settled on using line drawings for my scenery, keeping it black and white. This would be the holder for our content, which I wanted to be vibrant as it was about the company. It was great to finally have the concept planned out so that we could share it with the client.

I must be honest… this was one of the hardest concepts to create, purely because I had a complete creativity block. This is by no means a finished, polished project; just an initial sales concept mapped out across 15 PowerPoint slides so we could show the range of settings.

I loved the end result but sharing it with the client was the most nerve-wracking experience; maybe because it took so much work and rework to reach this point. Fortunately, the client loved the concept, and could readily see how it could be easily tailored to suit each cruise line brand within the group.

the powerpoint concept showing intro and section headers

The whole process was a real personal development journey and taught me how to deal with the loss of a skill even if only for a relatively short period of time. It also taught me to always approach any project fully informed about all aspects of the prospective client. That client history and background is essential to give the bigger picture about the client but doing the research can give you some off tangent insights which may prove invaluable further down the line.

Sometimes that research can seem dull and a waste of time, but if it gives me the inspiration I need, then every minute is worth it. I keep my creativity, and hopefully the client gets a great concept that they love.

I would love to hear how you deal with a creative block, and what you do to find your inspiration. Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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