Using a Workflow to Maximize Your Creative Output

Art & GTD Part 3 of 5

Sometimes it helps to set up a workflow for yourself, breaking things down into doable steps in order to arrive at some deliverable result. This applies to artists as well as anybody else. At my design job, our workflow goes something like this:

  1. Client requests (something) from us (for example: a brochure.)
  2. Account Manager/Creative Director/Project Manager assigns the project to a designer or copywriter
  3. Designer brainstorms solo or with others, and proceeds to hash out some options for the client
  4. Client gives the thumbs-up or thumbs down on one of the options, which will most likely need a few revisions
  5. We make revisions, going back and forth with the client until it’s satisfactory
  6. Send the design to the printer (or upload it to the web if it’s a web project) who then delivers the printed (brochures) to the client
  7. We bill the client and they pay us

As mentioned earlier, art is not usually created to meet some outwside directive, but one from within. It’s internally driven. It’s no accident that artists tend to be introverted. But let that internal project manager help you along with a workflow similar to what commercial artists use. Here’s a general workflow for making art:

  1. Brainstorm, whether it’s sketches, taking quick photos, mind-mapping, or just writing down ideas on a page until it’s covered
  2. Gather any needed reference material
  3. Do formal sketches, more fleshed out than thumbnails
  4. Prepare materials (canvas, clay, paints, etc.)
  5. Make the piece
  6. Refine it until it’s where you want it
  7. Sell it or put it on display

So while the commercial route begins outside of you, the inner creative process is similar. So if you find yourself getting stuck, you can just look at the worfklow and see what the next thing is to do in order to get this project finished and out the door. Just that alone can get you moving again.