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Breakthrough!: 100 Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination [Paperback]

Alex Cornell
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2012
All of us struggle at one time or another with creative block. Always striking at the worst moment, it can leave you feeling completely paralyzed. Take solace in knowing that you are not alone. It happens to everyone and is actually and inevitable part of the creative process. Breakthrough! Is a lively compilation of strategies and personal tips for combating creative ruts offered by leading international graphic designers, typographers, cartoonists, photographers, illustrators, musicians, writers and other well known creative professionals. Participants include Christoph Niemann, the award winning illustrator and children's book author; Paul Scher, graphic designer and artist of large scale paintings of America's preeminent information designers; and Ji Lee, the creative director of Facebook.

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Breakthrough!: 100 Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination + Steal Like An Artist + The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life
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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press (1 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616890398
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616890391
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 13.7 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 472,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


"A small but potent compendium of field-tested, life-approved insight on optimizing the creative process from some of today's most exciting artists, designers, illustrators, writers, and thinkers. At once practical and philosophical, Breakthrough! promises to help you burst through your own creative plateaus. Whether or not it succeeds, one thing it's guaranteed to do is make you feel less alone in your mental struggles -- and what greater reassurance than that could there be?" -- Brain Pickings

About the Author

Alex Cornell is a designer and musician. He is currently working as co founder and designer at Firespotter Labs and Nosh, a Google Ventures funded startup. Prior to Firespotter, he spent three years studying design as apprentice to Scott Hansen (ISO50). He has also worked for IDEO, Plancast, Signpost, and many other Bay Area companies as a UI/UX and brand designer presence.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I was expecting more... 18 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's okay, interesting I guess, but it's fairly thin, and seems to have comments from the same creative industries. It's not varied enough I guess. Fine for keeping next to the bed for occasional bedtime reading I suppose.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas to help deal with artist's block. 30 Aug 2012
By E. Swope - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a scientist who has spent over half my life studying creativity (and gone on to become a working artist) I picked this book up with some trepidation, and fairly low expectations. I have literally read upwards of 100 books on creativity, and in my experience, the books written 30+ years ago (when it was not a hot area) were, for the most part, a good deal better than the majority currently making the rounds. That is easily explained, as the people writing then did it out of love, passion rather than to turn a quick buck. All that said, I was not expecting a lot from this book. I have to commend Alex Cornell, more editor or curator (than author) of this collection of essays, for not overstating what it gives you, not imbuing it with too much gloss or ego.

The book is a collection of essays from a variety of working artists who were asked how they deal with "creative block". There is some overlap in the recommended strategies, but that is par for the course, and points to an aspect of the process; that the mind needs to be relaxed for those ideas to "gel".

My favorite quote comes from Chris Russo, who says "If the remedy was exact, I'd patent it, design the packaging and make some money." The truth is, there is no "cure-all". Each of us has different triggers, different backgrounds, different things which work to get them going. There are, however some good ideas in this little book and enough of a variety that I think many people would find something of benefit in it.

It's an easy read, not heavy on jargon, or cute catch phrases. Genuine advice from working artists who took the time to share what helps get them going when they get stuck. Anyone who works in a creative field has been there, and it is not an enjoyable place to be, so anything which helps is a little gem. I suspect that most artists would agree that if even one of these strategies helps get them going again it was a worth-while read.

If I could I would give the book 4.5 stars. It isn't perfect (but doesn't claim to be). It's another piece of the puzzle, and maybe the piece which helps you solve yours.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Useful Collection of Ways to Overcome Writer's Block 3 Sep 2012
By W. A. Carpenter - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I must admit to some skepticism when I started reading Breakthrough!: Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination. This seems to be another collection of one page emails by famous people on a single topic - but in this case I didn't know who most of these famous people were. It turns out that they are designers, artists, musicians, and other creative types from New York City, England, and Scandinavia (for the most part) sharing hints on how to overcome writer's block (or other forms of creative blocks). There is surprising unanimity on the best approaches - basically you should take a walk, observe the world, and otherwise distract yourself from the problem at hand.

However I was delighted to find such an interesting array of ways to give this basic advice in 90 different voices. The editor, Alex Cornell, deserves a lot of credit for choosing well and keeping the book interesting. The book designer, Elana Schlenker, also deserves a lot of credit for intelligent and interesting design with creative pull quotes. There are a number of different things about the book layout. The colophon, usually found on the reverse side of the title page, is the last page of this book. Each page has a wide printed margin - which fades from black to blue as you go from the front of the book to the end. The font choices are distinctive but readable. Reading it was fun.

Even though I do not make a living in any of these creative fields, I found the advice inspiring and useful for dealing with the kinds of problems I face in my very different field of work. Recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and encouraging 22 Nov 2012
By LindaT - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I read the book from front to back for review purposes. And in doing so I found out that you can take it, let it fall openanywhere, and find good, sound advice for when you feel "stuck" and "blocked."

Many of the writers wer artistic designers, graphic artists and writers. For my own part, I am a teacher, writer, and musician. I also like to knit teddy bears and paint pictures (although I haven't done it for quite a while). And sometimes it seems like in all of these endeavors, I feel "stuck" and I fiund this book to be a greaet place to go for ideas -- not for my projects, but for ways to handle this feeling of dryness and feeling like I'm gettting nowhere.

A lot of the ideas are surprising. Some people find deadlines to be scary, but Ben Barry, Grapic Designer at Facebook says that sometimes creating an artificial constraints as quickly as possible on a projecct -- especially open-ended ones where there'sno particular time to have the project fnished -- "A deadline is always the best cure." While this may not work for everything, it certainly is an option. Page 86 says to allow for error. The discusision by "Experimental Jetset" about the difference between a "bloc" and an "block" is worth the price of the whole book. And get this -- the writer on page 72 tells you to "enjoy" your depresion!

This book goes with me a lot. It's fun to read when I want to enjoy my MacDonald's vanilla ied coffee and get good ideas to keep on moving on.

It's many, MANY times the price of the book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice short primer for overcoming creative blocks 12 Oct 2012
By Bakari Chavanu - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is like a mini version of The Art of Looking Sideways. It's full of aphorisms and strategies for thinking creatively and outside the box. If you actually read the book from cover to cover, you will pick up suggestions for dealing with blocks to creativity and procrastination.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Ideas! 27 Sep 2012
By Latin Pod - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Rather you work as an artist, a craftsman, a musician, a writer, an architect, engineer, or in any other type of profession that requires creativity, you have probably encountered an occasional creative block. If so, Alex Cornel has compiled the perfect book for you. Leading professionals from a wide variety of fields share their strategies to overcome their blocks. Some of them use simple strategies such as taking a walk, some eat specific foods, and others are more strategic. Since everyone is different, there isn't a one size fits all, so the reader may pick and choose until he/she finds what works best for them. If you are like me, you may like to mix it up sometimes, so there is plenty of options to choose from in this book. I highly recommend it.
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