From Concept to Creation

Last week I spent a good while getting back to basics. And it was blissful. Much time was spent cutting shapes out the textures I made the other week using printing implements various, from onions to sponges to leaves. I took much inspiration from the plant below …. no idea what it is.  But I found it on the side of the road and thought the leaves were just beautiful.

Next up, I chose a couple of prints, drew a rough shapes, and got cutting!

 

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Finally, time to scan, and let Illustrator work its magic. I’ve come up with one design concept in two colourways, as seen below. I rather thought they would lend themselves to fabric, so have mocked them up on cushions. It’s taken a day, but think I like them. And how very refreshing it is, to actually be firm in my opinion of my own work. It doesn’t happen very often!

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And the second colourway ….

 

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Getting Real

Last week brought two events, one of which had me flying like a kite, the other of which brought me down to earth with an unforgiving thump. The former was the exciting arrival of my sample t-towels: the quality is good, the colours are how I envisaged, and ultimately ….. I actually like them! I sought honest feedback from friends and family, which in hindsight was most likely biased whether consciously or not. Nevertheless, people were free in expressing a preference for one over the others, and I even got a few “I’m not sure about that colour”s, but generally, it was all very positive. Then came the thunderbolt:

“Oooh, it’s very Orla Kiely”

Ouch.

Now don’t get me wrong …. I’m an Orla Kiely fan as much as the next person, and I have products at home to prove it. I have huge respect for her as a designer and person; her talent, her business mind, her perseverance among other things. BUT …. I don’t want my designs to be very Orla Kiely. I want them to be very Cat Christopherson. I’m not remotely interested in copying another designer. Aside from having far too much respect for the work other people put into their own design processes, I actually want to create my own style …. something that, if not ‘uniquely’ me, is at least ‘distinctly’ me. That’s the whole reason I embarked on this journey in the first place.

But how do I stop my work resembling another artist’s, when I’m not even consciously thinking of another designer’s work while designing myself? How do I become Distinctly Me???

Two words: Time and Experience …… neither of which can be magically forced. You see, Kiely, like many other highly successful designers, went to Art College. She also worked in industry for several years before setting up her own label. Through years and years worth of time, she has gained years and years worth of experience. And through this experience and experimentation, her own unique style has evolved organically. Nothing is contrived. That’s what makes it so beautiful. Even the freshest of art school graduates have had three years to experiment and focus solely on their art (and have most likely picked up a few useful industry contacts along the way).

  • I have have not been to art college
  • I have no industry experience
  • I have exactly 18 hours a week when I don’t have small children various hanging off my legs.
  • I have been doing this for three months.

I think I need to get real. I need to remember that style cannot be forced. That it takes time to evolve ….. a lot of time. That it’s OK to use those 18 hours a week just experimenting. That I don’t need to be manufacturing shed loads of products. (That I can’t afford to either!) I need to trust that in time, my style will come, but that it could take years. I need to learn to be okay with that.

I need to learn patience.

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A little (unexpected) progress. Finally.

I know …. the trees were supposed to be on sabbatical. But today, in a rare moment of spontaneity (while waiting for the kettle to boil), I re-worked one of my car crashes from last week. And rather unexpectedly … I actually liked it. Two unplanned hours on the computer later ….. ta da!

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Also, these….. my opinion on which is changeable; I like the movement and texture, but I think they need more depth. And a change in colour palette wouldn’t hurt either….

 

Finally…… here is a Dalek. (That is absolutely how this design started out. Not as a Christmas tree. Absolutely not.)

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Back to Basics

You know that when you wake on an October Sunday morning and your brain is unhealthily pre-occupied by Christmas trees on Christmas cards, that it’s probably time to step away from the pine needles. At least for a few days ….. particularly if after two weeks and multiple design attempts, nothing beautiful has availed itself.

Today I told that creative block to do one.  Today I brushed away the cobwebs. Today I got back to basics and connected with my inner pre-schooler:

  • A2 pad
  • Black acrylic paint,
  • Any printing prop I could lay my hands on
  • Coffee on tap
  • The Archers omnibus

Today was fun.