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"The Best Design Advice I Ever Got" with Stefan Mumaw

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Stefan Mumaw, author of Creative Boot Camp, quit waiting for the muse to arrive and started making art a habit at the encouragement of a college art professor. Now he shares how setting aside time to work has helped him generate even better ideas.
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Stefan Mumaw

Job Experience:

Creative Director at Callahan Creek, a Kansas City-area ad agency. Former Creative Director at boutique creative shop Reign and former Creative Director at ad agency Brainyard.

Most Notable Achievement:

Author of five books in the design and creativity space: Simple Websites, Redesigning Websites, Caffeine for the Creative Mind, Caffeine for the Creative Team, and Chasing the Monster Idea.


When I was in college, I had a design professor named Denise Weyhrich. Denise was incredibly passionate about design and it was that passion that initially drew me to the industry. During a particularly late night, I was working on a project for one of her classes and I was struggling to find a good idea. As the next-day deadline loomed, I was searching for inspiration in a stack of Communication Arts magazines, hoping that a bolt of creative lightning would strike me and inspire a solution but no storms of brilliance were mounting over the horizon. Frustrated, I wondered aloud (very aloud) why I couldn't conjure a decent idea. Denise happened to be in the next room picking up some paperwork and could hear the frustration in my voice. She walked over and sat down on the chair next to me, put her hand on my shoulder and said, "Creativity isn't a magical moment. Creativity is a habit, it's the result of preparation and practice. The time you're spending right now, this frustrating, quiet time searching for answers, this is what creativity feeds on. Don't hate this time, relish it because the next time you need a brilliant idea, you'll be this much better at generating it." Now, every time a deadline bears down and the pressure of developing a big idea is clearly building, I remember Denise's words and buckle down for the fight knowing the idea will be there, too.

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