A methodology for creating new ideas

This is a post is intended to give people a methodology for creating new ideas. A lot of the time when I create an editorial illustration an idea just pops into my head ... but sometimes this does not happen, so I have this little methodology for creating new ideas that has helped me time and time again.

The idea behind this methodology is similar to writing a song. There are only a few musical notes, but by rearranging their order, length and speed you can create an infinite amount of songs.

Step 1 - Important Words

Try and think of the most important words related to your project ... usually 2 to 4 words.

So for this project the creative brief was rather easy because it basically spelled it out:

"Empowering Teachers with Technology"

... but from experience it's usually not too hard to think of 2 or 3 words.

So we now have our words: Empower, Teacher, Technology

Step 2 - Word Association

Next, for each of these 3 words .. think of other things associated with them  ... if you need help with this you can consult a  Thesaurus or see what images are associated by searching Google Images or Flickr. These are the "notes" you will rearrange into "songs" ... or ideas.

Empower Teachers/Education Technology
  • Bridge
  • Helping Hand
  • Ladder
  • Crane
  • Super Hero/Cape
  • Power
  • Electricity
  • Motor
  • Spark
  • Ignite
  • Teacher
  • Desk
  • Books
  • Brain
  • Chalk Board
  • World Map
  • Apple
  • Class room
  • Graduation Cap
  • Diploma
  • Computer
  • Computer Chip
  • Satellite
  • Space Travel
  • Math Formulas
  • Schematics
  • Rockets
  • Molecules
  • DNA
  • Petri Dishes
  • Telescopes
  • Microscopes
  • Light Bulb

Step 3 - "make a song"

Now that you have your "notes" think of ways you can rearrange  them to convey  meaning. Pick a word from each column and see if you can create an interesting idea.  There are a number of ways to do this ... change their size, their physical relationship to one another, their properties/material (metal=strong, ice=cold), etc.

Let's see ... what can we do? Maybe ...

  • A crane driven by a teacher lowering a light-bulb into a student's head.
  • A student climbing a DNA ladder to draw a light-bulb on a chalkboard
  • Students and a teacher crossing a bridge of computers to the moon
  • etc


"A Bridge to places out of this world" Students and a teacher crossing a bridge of computers to the moon


"Ride The Brain Train" The teacher's brain is a vehicle that takes students to new places via technology/computer


"Knowledge Explosion" leveraging the window/portal metaphor


"Super Teacher" Teacher in a heroric position (foot on computer) a cape inspiring students

Here is the idea the client decided to go with ...


I would love to hear if you have any methods for creating ideas???  Please post in comments below :)

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