Have you heard the concept that we are either left brain or right brain thinkers? The idea began in the late 1960’s; while we use both sides of our brain, we are either left dominant or right dominate. In theory, left brain dominant individuals prefer analytical thought, logic, and reasoning. While right brain individuals are full of creativity and tend to focus on art and music. However, as designers, we can harness this understanding of the left and right brain to become more creative as well as succeed in other work-related tasks.  

The Left-Brainers

The left-brain tends to first see details, then pieces them together to form the big picture. Left-brained designers constantly observe everything around them: what works, what doesn’t, and why. They notice trends, follow what’s popular and analyzes how things are built. It seems natural for left brain thinkers. They take everything in, absorb it, and file it away. Much like a computer, there seems to be a “design inspiration” file deep in their brains. When the time comes, they pull from that file and begin remixing and reworking those “design inspiration” ideas to create something that’s original and useful.

The Right-Brainers

Right-brained people, on the other hand, require less input per output. Whether it be a landscape, object, or piece of art, the right side of the brain often perceives visual references as a whole and before noticing finer details. Right-brain designers have this keen creative ability that seems to come natural. From this innate ability, they create something amazing and unique by using the tools available to them and the head on their shoulders. Someone with right brain process might begin the creative process by shutting out all distractions, silencing their web connections, and cranking up some inspirational music.

Considering all of this, which mode of thinking makes for better designers? If you could chose whether to be left-brained or right-brained, which would you be?

Here’s my thought: In the design industry you use a little of both.

“Creativity can be chaos, analytical problem solving can be boring, it’s when they come together that great design truly takes place.”

-anonymous

Our brains use both the left and right sides, mixing and matching each side’s unique abilities for a fully-functioning brain. However, there is a natural inclination towards a more dominant side that we all lean towards. Creative thinking causes both sides to work together and will vary for each individual. The challenge isn’t to attempt to be something that you’re not, but to identify how what works best for you and hone those skills to become a successful designer. Some clients will be looking for design concepts that “think outside of the box.” They are searching for a truly creative and original product that launches them into success (right brain designers). While some clients need simple and attractive designs to display information in a no-nonsense way and require nothing exuberant. Easy enough, they want a business card and website (left brain designers). 

Right-brain thinker, left-brain thinker – it doesn’t matter. Whether creative or analytical, designers can use their creative struggle to identify what works best. Approaching projects with an open mind and establishing a workflow that works with their natural talent. Applying this concept can give opportunity to improve work, increase individual understanding, and identify natural ability. 

-Kristien Scott, Epic Nine Designer