13 Creative Outlets for Designers

Be Creative

The creative aspect of working as a designer is a major draw for most people in this career. Despite the fact that you’re probably using your creativity on a daily basis, sometimes you may need an additional creative outlet outside of your job.

If you’re a freelancer or an employee of a design agency, you may feel like your creativity is stifled at times by the requirements and demands of your clients. If you’re an in-house designer, you may feel like you work on the same type of projects all the time, and your creativity may not be maximized.

Even if you do feel like you are able to fully use your creativity within your work, it may be nice to have a different way to express that creativity outside of your job.

With that in mind, there are many options that you could pursue. Here is a look at 13 options that may be a good fit for you.

1. Photography

Photographer

Many designers also have a love for photography. Some designers do professional work as a photographer, but for most it is just a hobby.

Mastering the art of composition can also help you in your work as a designer since there are some shared principles.

One of the great things about photography is the fact that there are so many different types of photography and you can choose something specific that interests you. Whether it’s landscapes, wildlife, portraits, street, macro, or some other type of photography, you’re sure to find something that feeds your creativity.

If you want to improve your own photography skills, check out this list of the best photography courses.

2. Photo Editing and Manipulation

Another aspect of photography that may appeal to you is photo editing. If you’re taking your own digital photos, they’ll need to be edited. As a designer, you’re likely already very familiar with Photoshop, so this is something that should be pretty familiar to you. With an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you also have access to Lightroom, which is a great program for editing and managing your digital files.

Of course, in addition to editing your own photos, you could also work on photos taken by other people. Some photographers outsource the editing of their photos in order to save time. Additionally, amateurs may want to hire someone to edit their photos if they do not have the skills or experience to accomplish what they want (you can find plenty of these types of gigs on Fiverr).

Photo manipulation or compositing is something that you may enjoy doing for fun in your spare time. Not only will it provide you with a creative outlet, but you can also fine-tune your Photoshop skills, which may come in handy in your design work.

If you’re looking to improve your skills in these areas, we have several collections of tutorials that can be a huge help:

3. Writing

Writing

Writing uses a different type of creativity, and as a designer, you may appreciate the opportunity to stretch your creativity using words instead of visual elements.

Of course, there are many different types of writing that you can do, including journaling, poetry, fiction, and more.

Writing could be something you simply do for fun or to release stress, or you could turn it into a source of income. Working as a freelance writer or writing and selling ebooks on Amazon are two popular options for monetizing your love of writing.

4. Blogging

Blogging could probably fall under the category of writing, but writing is really only one aspect of blogging. Blogging will also allow you to incorporate other types of creativity, including design and photography.

You could start a blog or a niche website on any topic that interests you, or start a web design blog to incorporate your new creative outlet and your existing work. Starting a design blog or even adding a blog to your portfolio site may help you to advance your career and open up new opportunities.

5. Painting

Painting

If you appreciate the artistic side of design, you may also be very interested in painting. You could easily devote more spare time to painting and improving your skills while enjoying this creative outlet.

Of course, you can paint anything that you want from nature scenes to portraits, and there are also several different types of paint that you could use, including watercolors.

6. Drawing/Sketching

Another artistic outlet is to use your free time for drawing or sketching. Many of us enjoyed drawing as kids, but for some reason, we got away from it as adults.

Drawing can be an excellent creative outlet and could even become a potential source of income if you’re interested in turning your sketches into illustrations that you could sell through an online shop. There are many designers that create and sell illustrations and vectors either at their own site or at popular marketplaces and stock photo sites.

If you’re interested in improving your skills, you may be interested in these 25 Illustration/Drawing Tutorials for Photoshop.

7. Coloring

Colored Pencils

Coloring is another creative activity that’s popular with kids, and it’s made a comeback in popularity with adults as well. A growing number of adults have come to appreciate the creative and stress-releasing aspects of coloring.

There are plenty of adult coloring books available, and this is a creative outlet that you can easily pick up any time and work on it whenever it fits into your schedule.

8. Crafts

Depending on your interests and skills, you may enjoy crafty activities as a creative outlet. There are all kinds of possibilities here, and this is another one that could be easily turned into a side income. You could start an Etsy shop or sell your crafts on some other platform and make some extra money from your creative hobby.

9. Music

Guitar

Of course, music is one of the most popular of all creative outlets. It involves a completely different type of creativity as compared to design, but you may enjoy changing it up.

Regardless of whether you play an instrument or sing, there are plenty of opportunities to play or create music as a way to stretch your creative muscles.

In addition to playing an instrument or singing, you may enjoy music production.

You could use your musical skills for your own enjoyment or perform in front of crowds if you prefer. Either way, it can be an excellent outlet.

10. Video Production

Video production is another way to express your creativity, and these skills can also be highly valuable as the demand for talented producers is constantly increasing. With more and more video being published and viewed online, this is an excellent field if you are looking to choose something with the potential to impact your career.

Not only could you use your video production skills to make money from client work, but you could also use video to promote your design services and grow your business as a freelancer or agency owner. You could also create templates and other resources to sell on your own website or at a marketplace like FilterGrade.

11. Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking is another creative outlet that you can do for fun, and to preserve good memories. It may not offer the same income potential as some of the other options covered in this article, but if you’re interested more in fun and creativity than income potential, this could be a good option for you.

If you enjoy traveling (and take a lot of photos on your trips), or if you have lots of family pictures that you want to showcase, scrapbooking can be a lot of fun.

12. Cooking

Cooking

Another activity that may be overlooked as a creative outlet is cooking. Of course, one of the best parts of this creative outlet is the fact that you get to eat and enjoy your creations!

Whether you want to cook for yourself and your family or entertain guests, this can be a great way to get rid of stress and express your creativity in a new and different way.

13. Legos

The last option we’ll look at is another one that is popular with kids, but not with adults. Building and creating with Legos can be a lot of fun at any age. If you have kids and you’re able to combine creativity and family time, even better.

Final Thoughts

Throughout this article, we’ve looked at 13 different ways that you can express your creativity outside of design. If you feel like you need a creative outlet outside of your work as a designer, choose one that you enjoy (or something that you want to learn) and start setting aside some time for it. You’ll find that it helps to keep you fresh and inspired, and it may even make your work more enjoyable.

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