Some of the work our team produced for The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas.

Last week I volunteered for AIGA Austin’s inaugural CreateAthon, a 24-hour creative blitz that connects graphic designers with local nonprofits. On top of learning a lot about the fantastic nonprofit my five teammates and I were assigned to, I discovered another valuable lesson: giving back is a one heck of a creative muse.

Going into CreateAthon, I was equal parts excited about volunteering and terrified I would be unable to crank out solid designs by hour 18. But as it turned out, it was so much easier to find inspiration once I took myself out of the equation. It was about our team of six strangers, and how we could give our nonprofit what it needed to engage the community in its mission. Not about me.

After that perspective shift, all the pressure was off. I felt totally free to create and went on to design a complex pattern – my first ever – in hour 12 with the help of a teammate. In the end, each member of our team left with a huge (albeit exhausted) grin thanks to all that we were able to produce for our nonprofit.

There’s nothing like volunteering.

What are some ways you can volunteer your creativity to give back to the community?