Bounce the ball

If you are a web or graphic designer and have ever opened up Photoshop or Illustrator, and created a brand new file sized at 400x300, chances are, you’ve posted work on the wildly popular design community site, Dribbble. And if you think I just mis-spelled the word dribble, you probably haven’t.

A lot of ideas are floating around that Dribbble is beginning to have a negative effect on the design community. I found myself agreeing with many of the points people are making these days, but something hit me after I posted this last shot:

Sometimes, the best ideas are the ones you throw away.

It’s a circle. With some strokes in it. On a Cyan background. I spent 13 minutes on it. But what I actually created was far less important than the effect that it had on me to create it, and publish it for all the world to see (or at least the 37 people who took the time to look). Forcing myself to drag the pen tool around and draw blocks and scan through colors does something to my brain. It activates something that helps me get unstuck. Especially if I’m working on something completely different from this. Most creatives can probably understand this.

Where I think Dribbble shines is a lot closer to its original intent–to be a community for designers to share what they’re currently working on. I don’t think Dan or Rich ever intended to build something where people would obsess over details and seek popularity. I think they saw that the idea of sharing work in progress can help you grow as a person. It’s the act of sharing that’s so magical, not the likes you get on a post, or the comment count.

Doodling, writing hiakus, or plucking around on that guitar you’ve hidden in your closet can spark something in your brain that will help you innovate in other areas. In “The War of Art”, Stephen Pressfield talks a lot about evoking the muse in your work. Find those things that shake up your routine just enough to spark some inspiration. They can be vital tools in your creative arsenal. Then, share them with people — not just for feedback, but for yourself.

Update: As a testament to my own fallibility with practicing sharing, this post sat in my “drafts” for 19 months before I actually published it. Better late than never.

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