Brainstorming techniques: how to generate visual ideas

Method of Word Association

Start with a short sentence related to the theme. For instance, the general theme is restraint. You may write: “Afraid of going beyond boundaries”. Or: “Economy of means”.

Alternatively, you may use the web to find a quote with the word in it. Example: “Liberty has restraints but no frontiers”, Lloyd George. (source of the quote: to help sort the many uses and nuances of the term.

Associate freely: under each word of the sentence list words that come to you mind, the essence of the free association method is that ANY association is valid, do not judge or evaluate anything as irrelevant, bad (or good), absurd, et cetera. In fact, there is no “wrong” association, and the essence of the method is to bypass our “ordinary” way of considering things from a “logical”(correct / incorrect) or “axiological” (good / bad) point of view. Do not restrain the flow of words.

The result will be a number of columns in the page. The last step is to read the columns and cross associate freely: the new associations between words from different columns will generate images or visual metaphors related to the theme.

Marcelo Lima