Artist Crush and My Ramblings Regarding the Current Environment of the Design World

14 March 2014

So if you're following along this blog, my 30 day challenge has come to a screeching halt.  There a million excuses I can (and have) made, like client work (yay!) real work and life throwing me some curveballs. Mostly though, I am suffering from a SERIOUS lack of creative motivation and inspiration.

I was sitting in a meeting yesterday and doodling, as I am often inclined to due during meetings, and I  starting drawing circles, which turned intro flowers, grapes, and snowman, some weird geometric patterns, and it struck me: I am doodling the same things I always do! Like literally drawing the same dumb flowers I drew in the margins of my notebooks in college.

I am supposed to be a creative person. I literally make my living that way, but I had this depressing realization that I am stuck in a serious creative rut and I think there are several factors for this, that perhaps a few people can relate to. I think the design community, specifically on the internet, is so vast and amazing and there is so much out there to be inspired by, which makes our jobs sometimes much easier. By the same token, that vast and amazingly talented and wonderful community makes it increasingly hard to be original and unique unless you have a specific skill or style or niche. I started thinking, "ok I'm a graphic designer but is that good enough anymore"? Do I need to learn and master hand-lettering, or become seriously skilled at whimsical and darling calligraphy prints that become Pinterest-worthy and blogger approved art? Or even letterpress, certainly a huge trend in the design  world (and I stuck my toe in the pond a few weeks ago) but that is a pretty damn expensive "hobby". In essence, I wondered if me, being a designer and aspiring graphic illustrator, is that enough?

I haven't developed my personal style completely and I often wonder, do I borrow too much from what someone else is made, even though I do try to make it my own? Or is this OK since most of us have been taught, that it's the best way to learn, by mimicking the style you appreciate and gravitate toward. A very shotty chalk version of "Starry Night" that my parents came across a few weeks ago form my college portfolio is testament to this. And if that style or design that you make, makes you happy or the client happy but it's what's "popular" is that OK?

I once had a friend quote something a design professor said to her, which was, "whatever it is, it's already been done". I love and hate this quote. Essentially to me it meant, don't kill yourself trying to be the most original artist on the planet because that's incredibly hard to do. As long as you are happy and creating things, doing good work and learning from it, then be happy with yourself. Also, sometimes you gotta pay the bills and those might come in the form of someone sending you a PDF saying "replicate this". On the other hand, shouldn't you at least try to be completely original or is that possible? My take away, and a part from other wisdom I have received from other very established and unique designers is to work, work, work and then work some more. And I do think this is the solution to half the problem.

This leaves me wondering, as artists, we all are influenced by things we like and gravitate to. All designers somehow find themselves drawn back to the same fonts (Futura and Brandon anyone?) the same colors and eventually that becomes a part of their style. But take a quick glance around the web, design blogs and Pinterest. And sometimes that style is everywhere! What I like and like to design seems to be what everyone else likes and gravitates towards as well. Is that OK? Or do I need to break the mold and push myself further?

I don't think there is nessicarily an answer to this - unless someone has one, please weigh in in the comments - but essentially it's all about the creative process and pushing your way through your own comfort zone, evolving with the trends and maybe pushing them forward, if you want to and if you can.

For me, this means designing more and relying more on my instincts instead of recreating what is already been done. Even if it's ugly at first, my goals as a designer this year are to take what I like, breath it in, and push harder to be original.  I think in many ways in the beginning of your career you mimic what you like, and people will ask you to do the same, both clients and personal projects. And that's OK, as long as you push to make it a little bit better or at the very least different and still leaving your mark.

So what are these pictures of these ladies doing at the top of this incredibly long post? I went down the Pinterest rabbit hole looking for inspiration and I came across this lovely artist and their Etsy shop, PetitRive. They make the most darling prints of cats and sushi I have ever seen. These ladies really struck me as inspirational. I feel like each one of them is a powerful sassy lady telling me I can get through this creative rut just stick with it! And make more things! Whatever I have to do to feel inspired, do it, and it will come. Take the time to believe in yourself, believe that you are always getting better and that there is still SO much left to design, no matter what a sassy art professor said.

Was that enough for a Friday afternoon? I think so too.


1 comment:

  1. Here's my 2 cents. Your job is your job. Most of the time, there's not a lot of 'creation for the soul' going on. You're hampered by branding, by directives, etc. It's the grind of working... but it's also putting bread on the table. That's BOX 1. Then there are side jobs. Again, you're putting some spending money in your pocket. A little more leeway for being creative, but you're still in someone else's pocket. Sure you can pick and choose what jobs you want, but we never really do that, do we? We want that trip to Colorado, or the new computer... so we take the jobs, eat the directives and get paid. That's BOX 2. But BOX 3 is where you get to be YOU. That's where the 'hobby' lives. It's all you baby! That's where your inner Dali lives, breathes and flourishes. It's also the hardest to carve out time for, but it's the most satisfying. And remember, we ALL are in the same boat. Whether it's the Accountant by day, who does some accounting side job for the local dry cleaner and then does cosplay in their spare time... that's his BOX 3. So don't worry, we're all looking for for more time in that box. It's a chore sometimes because there never seems to be time. Make time. Feed the soul. So that was my 2 cents. Where's my change??


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