Design in a Visual Age


Recently I discussed with Carly Hennessy how I stay true to my design vision when there are so many images around. I found this question really interesting, and I believe it is an issue faced by the creative community as a whole, more so than ever before.

For me, the constant stream of visual stimulation available is really exciting. Instagram, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest, there is so much content at your fingertips. Beautiful handcrafts, corners of the world I would not see other wise, behind the scenes glimpses, inspiring details. And with each decision of who you follow and on what platform, you are able to curate that content to your personal taste. No doubt, despite some similarities, your feed and mine would be extremely different, reflecting our individuality. Increasingly it feels that you are what you 'like'.

The downside of this flux of images is that consuming media can be a form of procrastination, rather than inspiration. While comparison and jealousy can be paralysing for an artist. I think we all have these moments of self doubt. But I have learnt that the key is using this stream is to challenge yourself in a positive way. Stop comparing. No one is in the same position as you and vice versa. Accept that jealousy is showing you a clearer vision of your goal - if another's achievement is making you jealous you probably want that for yourself - and keep working towards it. Celebrate the achievements of others in your industry, as it shows you that it is possible for you too. Experiment, explore, collaborate and use the content in your feeds to help you push your boundaries, make new contacts and introduce you to new mediums, processes etc.

One great exercise to use images to hone your style or give you a new direction is to pick five images that really attract you and study them. Try to pin down exactly what it is about them that is drawing your eye, and how you can reflect this in your own work and make it your own. Is it a colour palette? The composition? Is it an interesting mix of materials? Textures? Use this as a jumping off point for your next design. Challenge yourself with a new process or use your tools in a new way. Allow yourself time to 'play' with no expected outcome. This way where you end up is often a lovely surprise.

My designing process usually happens away from that stream of images. I need to step away and put pencil to paper. Looking back at when I have designed recent pieces I have finished I have been sitting on a deck on holidays, laying in bed at night, and mopping the floor! By allowing life to happen, inspiration strikes. I keep a sketchbook within reach most of the time, to record these ideas. Sometimes those sketches will sit in my journal and inform another design, sometimes I will revisit them in the future, yet other times they come out fully formed and I sit down and make them at the bench just as I have seen them - as is the case with the ring in the above photo.

What about you? What do you love or hate about our visually rich social media? How do you stay true to your design vision? 

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