Creative ruts and inspiration wastelands can afflict even the most seasoned artists. With a new interactive project, Boston-based designer Ivanna Lin hopes to offer an antidote.


As a multidisciplinary artist working in typography, illustration, visual identities, and more, Lin understands the challenges designers face to keep innovating. “Many creatives, including myself, can often get too comfortable with their specialized skills or visual styles,” she says. “I want to show people the benefits of stepping outside their comfort zone.”

She came up with The Creative Dice to shake things up and get folks doing stuff. The playful concept poses a trio of challenges, each accompanied by custom die templates that the user prints and constructs themselves. Rolling the dice sets the specific parameters for the challenge—with numerous possible permutations. Depending on how you roll, for example, you could be tasked with using materials from your junk drawer to create a self-portrait or turning the contents of your fridge into a typographic experiment.

For the “What’s at Home?” challenge, players print and construct each die to fill in the missing instructions for the task: Find materials from your ___ to create a ___.

Once you’re done with one, toss the dice again and let fate tell you what to make next.

The method is simple but effective—something Lin has learned from her own practice. “As a designer, I enjoy experimenting with new materials and tools to create unexpected outcomes,” she says. “For example, I once used wooden toys to display data on the negative effects of gun violence on children. I also 3D-printed a book about the use of technology in fashion. Some of my best ideas were derived from me combining elements together and exploring new tools or skills, and I wanted more people to try this approach and mindset.”

The Creative Dice’s third challenge tasked Lin with using Illustrator to create a postcard.

Lin’s take on a challenge to use household objects to create a typographic experiment.

The unconventional combos are also a reflection of her passion for constraints, which she’s found to be excellent motivators.

“When people think of constraints, they think of limitations. In contrast, I actually believe they boost creativity because they encourage problem solving,” she says. “They force you to look at things from a new angle and connect information from different sources. As a result, they generate unique ideas and innovative solutions, and push people to explore new skills and techniques.”

In fact, Lin has experienced firsthand the liberating effect of her project. Tasked with creating a visual representation of herself in 30 minutes, she ended up making a quick animation that represents her initials: I.L. “I was honestly impressed by how quickly I created this one and enjoyed the thrill that I felt,” she says. “I’ve attempted to create a personal logo in the past and I have never landed on one that I liked. But after this challenge … I wonder if I may have just created one in 30 minutes!”

The finished result of Lin’s 30-minute challenge to create a representation of herself.

Watch as Lin designs a motion graphic of her initials as part of Challenge 1.

Lin developed The Creative Dice with a grant from the Adobe Creative Residency Community Fund, which is currently supporting selected projects from a variety of visual creators. While she originally pitched the idea—as a fully digital tool—late last year, the timing has turned out to be serendipitous for these we’re-all-at-home-trying-to-figure-out-what-to-do times.

 

“I know people are struggling to find reasons to be creative these days,” says Lin, “but I also know people are craving creativity due to the slower pace of life. To me, making art and design can be extremely therapeutic. I hope participants can find joy in being creative during these challenging times.”

“I know people are struggling to find reasons to be creative these days, but I also know people are craving creativity due to the slower pace of life. To me, making art and design can be extremely therapeutic. I hope participants can find joy in being creative during these challenging times.”

Scrolling through the work shared by others who have taken on the challenges is fascinating and inspiring; the variety of interpretations is an incredible reminder that there are infinite ways to tackle any given topic—and all of them are correct.

 

“I absolutely love seeing all of the different results that came out of this project! This is probably the most fulfilling part,” Lin says. “Especially given that I have done these challenges myself, it’s refreshing to see how others approach the same prompt. I’m so impressed by everyone’s work, and it goes to show that there’s no one right way to approach a challenge. Creativity comes in all forms and styles.”

 

When you’re ready to roll, you can share your masterpieces on Instagram with #creativedice, and/or tag @ivannajlin. “There’s no end date to the Creative Dice. It will remain as a resource on my website that people can download and have access to, and it’s my hope to eventually grow the project to a digital experience, too.”

 

Learn more about the Adobe Creative Residency Community Fund here.