Drool Time

John Walsh
John Walsh



For as long as I can remember, I have drooled over the pages of Communication Arts, Print Magazine, Advertising Age and countless other reference books featuring industry awards, ad campaigns, photography and illustration. If it’s creative, visual or having to do with design of any kind, I cannot get enough. I’m, admittedly, a reference book junkie. Personally, this “drool time” serves several purposes:


  • It feeds my “creative soul” and reminds me of the competition out there.
  • It inspires me to do better work for my clients.
  • It helps diminish any mental blocks or preconceived solutions from myself or the client.

As a young graphic designer (before there were computers or the web), I would routinely grab ten or so reference books at the beginning of a project. Even when the timeline was short, I’d force myself to look outside of what I THOUGHT the client wanted or what was already in my “mind’s eye.” As I drooled over examples of fantastic design, I would make notes regarding colors, fonts, photography, paper or general technique. I’d write down anything that sparked a thought. I’d fill several pages with chicken scratches that I’d ultimately refer to when starting my design. And, this ritual never failed me — it always led me to a better design solution.

While I still love to turn the pages of a great magazine, the web today provides creative people with millions and millions of resources that are meant to inspire. Short timelines, needy clients and multiple projects on your desk will exist forever, but whether you’re an account person, art director, copywriter or creative director, it’s imperative that you carve out your drool time, however you may define it. To make creative decisions without exploring and seeing what else is being done is like chewing old bubble gum while walking past a candy store.


  • Set aside “drool time” to harness creativity.
  • Always be aware of what else is out there in your respective field.
  • Constant education is vital to keeping yourself at your best.

Discussion/To Dos:

  • How do you define “drool time”?
  • From what resources do you find your inspiration?
  • How do you stay motivated to learn?

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