How to be a master of visual thinking

Make 2018 your most creative year to date with our top tips for mastering the art of visual thinking. 

The holidays are behind us, we're back in the swing, resolutions have been made and, maybe, already broken. Apparently, we're all doomed to spend the next week inexorably sliding towards the pit of January Blues. But does it have to be this way? Of course not. Instead, you could resolve to inject some more fun and creativity into the way you think, work and communicate. You could be more productive, collaborative and better at problem solving. You could make 2018 the year you embrace visual thinking.

It's not only easier than a crash diet, it's infinitely more enjoyable and far more likely to result in measurable success. So, below are our top tips for honing your creative and visual thinking skills, and reaping the rewards that come with it.


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Practice wider than your discipline

Developing a new skill can have a really positive impact on the skills you already have. Lessons learned in one subject, can give you a valuable new perspective on another. Learning to play a musical instrument is worth doing, even if your future doesn’t lie in music. So too, learning to draw even if you have no ambition to become an artist. 

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Draw every day

Many people think drawing is a knack that some possess and others don't. But regular practice is what makes the difference. Anyone who sets themselves the challenge of drawing every day will improve rapidly. If you're not sure where to start, explore our short and sweet How to Draw tutorials. From elephants to Easter bunnies, they're designed to help absolute beginners come on in leaps and bounds.

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Buddy up

Find the Fred to your Ginger, the Simon to your Garfunkel, the Gilbert to your George. 'Teaming up with someone you know well allows you to work with more freedom - whatever the task,' says Dan, one half of Scriberia's creative directorship. 'When you find someone on your wavelength, you have nothing to prove. You can put all your energy into making each other's ideas stronger.'

Visualise your goals

If your resolutions are already out of the window, perhaps this is the tip for you. The power of visualising what you want to achieve has been popular among athletes for some time. And, though your career may not depend on taking free kicks with Beckham-esque precision, we all have goals. Picturing them is thought to make them more tangible and actionable and makes you more motivated as a result. We recommend downloading Goals onto your Google Calendar, which uses illustrated visual nudges to keep users on track.

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Sign up to an Academy workshop

Come along to one of our Academy workshops, where our team of expert visualisers will introduce you to all the tips and techniques to make 2018 your most creative yet. We’ll teach you how to build your own visual vocabulary, organise complex information and draw something fantastically useful, wherever you work and whatever you do.

Think in metaphor

In our experience, the ability to see things from new perspectives is key to creative thinking. According to Dan, forcing yourself to think in metaphors is one really effective way to train that muscle. 'Get in the habit of relating things, situations, feelings to something completely different a few times a day,' he says. Whether in words or pictures, the perfect metaphor can be a fantastically powerful tool. Our scribe Matt prescribes regular poetry reading for metaphorical mastery.

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We believe your creative process should make you laugh. And throwing around your wildest, daftest ideas is the fastest way to land you at an ingenious one. Here at Scriberia, we live and work by the gospel of Dan: 'Be silly, make jokes, don't allow yourself to take the project too seriously. A humorous frame of mind is a highly creative one.'

Give yourself short deadlines

Short deadlines are your friend, not your foe! They help fast-track the creative process and often bring out ideas you didn't know were there. Senior visualiser, Matt Kemp, summarises our point perfectly: 'Tight deadlines are a bit like dealing with an emergency: if your house was on fire, your focus would be on saving the things that mattered. Clarity comes in those high-pressure moments.’

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Find a creative routine (and stick to it!)

You might think that creativity is all about free-flowing thought, liberated from restrictions. But oh, how you are wrong! From Picasso to Haruki Murakami, successful creatives often rely on regimented routines and rituals to release their creativity. So, contrary to popular opinion, we've found plenty of evidence to suggest that your 9-to-5 slog is ideal prep for creative endeavour. 

Develop your own style

As a team we collect, collate and share the work that inspires us, and we recommend it as a way to keep yourself on your toes in whatever discipline you're working in. A visual diary or a Pinterest board can be really useful. But, cast the net wide, and be careful keep a distance between your own work and someone else's. Creative director, Chris warns: 'It's so easy to get lost trying to emulate what others are doing, and miss out on creating something that is uniquely your own.' 

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Keep a pencil in your pocket

Inspiration can strike at any time. In fact, it is an odd quirk of the brain that it is most likely to strike when we least expect it. So, whether in a mundane meeting or on a mind-numbing commute, never be without a pencil and paper. Low-tech, highly effective idea capture. But, if you're more inclined towards gadgetry, you might like to download one of these creative apps instead.

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From country to country and culture to culture, you'll find different solutions to the same basic problems. Art Assistant, Pearl, believes in the power of travel to enhance our ability to take new approaches, and find new solutions. 'Take some time to travel and closely look at the local architecture, people, design, billboards,' she says. 'You’ll always learn something new from the way people practice creative thinking elsewhere.’

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Sleep on it!

It’s always a good idea to try and fit a night’s sleep in between doing your creative work and considering it finished. Fresh eyes make a huge difference!