We humans often know where we want to go, but we don’t always know how to get there. Brainstorming is one way of figuring this out. Here’s why we do it, and our 6 rules of great brainstorming.
When do we brainstorm?
You do it more than you realize, including every time you think through different ways of doing anything.
A brainstorming session is great when we have vague ideas in mind and want to find a clear way forward.
We make a lot of small and major decisions in animation and design. Seeing all our options before us can be daunting. But laying them out with some structure helps increase the chances we’ll pick creative paths to success.
How can this improve our ideas?
Let’s say you were to design a chair.
The first ideas that come to mind are the kind of chairs you are used to seeing. But dig a little deeper and you can think about textures, colors, and sizes.
Dig even deeper and you start to think about what this chair means to the user, how it will function, and who you want to sit in it. By brainstorming, your ideas get deeper and more creative, making your design better.
Here are a few rules we follow to make our process effective.
6 Steps to Better Brainstorming Sessions
Step one: Gather easy-to-use tools
We can barely remember more than seven things at a time, so we will need to make notes.
Get some easy-to-use writing tools. You’ll want to write as freely and as quickly as your mind thinks, so a large blank space is perfect.
If you are brainstorming as a group, it also helps to use something that everyone can clearly see and access.
At ListenMi Caribbean, we have our trusty whiteboard. This gives us enough space to jot as much as we want. But if you don’t have a whiteboard you can also use large sheets of printer paper.
Step two: Get in the Zone
Your environment should help you to think. Avoid places that have distractions, or using devices if they don’t contribute to finding ideas on the topic.
Set a time when you and everyone participating can be at your best. So don’t do it before lunch when you and everyone are hungry and all you can think about is food.
Step three: Start with a simple word or phrase
I believe that starting with a simple word or phrase works well to jog the brain. But you can also start with the topic or title.
Personally, I like to write a word or words down in the center of my paper, circle it, then start writing ideas around it.
Step four: No judgement zone. Say what comes to mind
Say whatever comes to your mind relating to the topic, even if it is only remotely related.
At first you want to get out all your knee jerk reactions, and what first comes to mind when you hear the word or words being in the topic. Write everything down.
Step five: Take Hierarchical notes
Taking notes is simple and can follow a hierarchical system.
Starting from the subject, we branch outwards expanding on each new word we add, by adding more words to those words. Doing this around the subject we slowly create a web of ideas.
Step six: Collect your findings
The last step to all your hard brainstorming is gathering the data into groups that make sense for your subject.
First, you go through all that was written and circle all the words or phrases that spark an idea. Or interesting groups you can build on to start your concept.
This is of course only the start of the creation process, but it can help to guide your ideas as roads begin to emerge before you. Then you can figure out what roads you choose to explore.
Start every design project with these steps and you will see a notable difference with the end results of your design.
At ListenMi Caribbean, this is how we work, and so far we see a big difference in ideas. We hope it works for you too!
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GashHuds is an Illustrator at ListenMi Caribbean, an animation preproduction and design studio for diverse content. Find more of his work on his instagram page @gashhuds, ListenMi’s instagram @listenmi and ListenMi.com.