Like any tool or skill, artistic ability can get rusty. You sit down at your desk, ready to create. You’ve got an idea, but it just won’t appear on the page. Something is off, and no matter how hard you squint and sweat and try, you can’t get it right.
When I was in college, every time I returned to school in the Fall, it took me weeks, or even months, before I felt like I was designing confidently and efficiently again. Working in an agency gives you regular practice designing and creating; however, there’s value in pushing yourself and seeking challenges beyond the opportunities clients provide.
This is where Flash Challenges come in. Every now and then our creative team draws a slip of paper from four random boxes. They contain made-up names, industries, adjectives and colors. Using those four descriptors, we are free to create a logo or design piece without the limitations of client demands or real world logistics. The price of that freedom is a time limit of thirty minutes. With so little time, it forces you to make tough decisions on the fly and to see what you’re capable of under pressure. Once the slips are drawn, we race back to our desks and begin.
“These Flash Challenges sharpen our skills and help all of us with our resourcefulness, improvisation, ability to push through struggle and they remind us how much can be done in a very small amount of time.” – Nathan Weaver (Fieldtrip creative director)
When our 30-minutes are up, we critique our work side by side, discuss why we made our decisions, shortcomings and small victories of the designs, and give feedback on how we could improve. It’s hard to let go of a promising piece in its infant stages, so we often return to our desks to touch it up, if only for our own pride and sense of finality. Some weeks you’re apprehensive to show your work, some weeks proud. In the end, the result is less important than the process. What’s important is staying sharp and always challenging yourself.