So we’re back. The summer is finally over and the latest adventure into graphic design has plunged into motion graphics, videos, after effects, media encoder, .mov .mp4, render queues, hairy pears, printmaking and poppies. I’m glad to have some direction again, even if it is quite dauntingly new.
As an exercise we had to research and summarise a video/ article about Stefan Sagmeister. Among a bit more background research I watched ‘Don’t take Creativity for Granted’ an 11 minute film which takes a tour through a range of Sagmeisters work based in New York and Indonesia design studios, which was published in 2012. To develop critical writing we’ve been asked to summarise it in no more than 100 words.
Stefan Sagmeister. Don’t take Creativity for Granted. (2012)
This takes us on a quick tour through a variety of Sagmeisters design projects originating from a personal diary reflection noting ’over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted’ prompting Sagmeister to do things he’d never done before in NY. Video clips expose inventive, brave, dangerous, elaborate and most importantly provocative typographical based work which show Sagmeister pushing the boundaries, challenging himself but equally our perceptions of design and designers. He talks us through complex typographic experiments in spiders webs and altogether more relaxed typography using melons, grain and bananas emerging from the Indonesia studio. (100 words)
The word limit of 100 words was pretty hard going – with difficulty I just got in there, but there was a lot more I wanted to say.
My first summary based on jotted notes while watching the video was easier and shorter (17 words)-
I’m off to read more about Mr Sagmeister. I think there is a lot to learn from him, as well as the blatant design skills and incredible typographical creativity he serves to remind us to not stop believing in ourselves and have the courage to try something new, stand out and swim against the tide. Take risks. Explore. Be a bit more self centred, be destructive, provocative, be dangerous. Don’t take things for granted.
Last week I gave the presentation for the end of the Responsive Professional Practice Own Brief : Surface Pattern Design. It was a great chance to look back and see what I had produced and break it down into the visible steps of the design cycle, even if it was a bit retrospectively in places. Bringing it all together was satisfying – being able to wrap up a lot of work. Ive struggled with the digital side pattern development, so if felt like a mini achievement.
I suppose a lot of the design cycle including evaluating and redesign is instinct – if it doesn’t work ‘try and try again’. The more difficult bit is probably seeing it doesn’t work. But I now have a great step by step reference for if I get stuck in a rut – and I can cycle back to the beginning.
I feel like I have learnt a lot in terms of digital skills as well as the surface pattern design, trends, products and applications. Comparing the first patterns I designed with the later ones I found it much quicker, the repeat matches better and I’ve got a better understanding of what is possible with digital editing. I also later in the work produced patterns entirely using illustrator, by using brushes, with textures, and colour palettes.
I really hope to be able to design several new patterns over the summer break, with a bit more of a ‘collection’ in mind of complimenting designs, colours and scales – and would also really love to do some work experience in this area.
I’ve now got a database of contacts, designers, inspiration, mood boards, printers, merchandise companies, trade fairs, local and national events, and a few retailers, as well contacts through social media on pinterest, instagram and Facebook (@hairypearpress) which will help me keep up to date as well as give me an idea of potential design opportunities locally.
Why didn’t I know about this before?
Continuing pattern development I’ve been following tutorials for creating pattern swatches using Adobe Illustrator as a grid repeat – matching the edges exactly for a seamless repeat. Technically finding it quite difficult to copy the exact swatch. Generating a random pattern takes more effort than the grids and bricks – for one it can’t be done by the computer programme – ensuring there is enough random rotation and placement of each object is tricky to get the aesthetic balance right – I just eyeball it.
A bit of a discovery last week – I was aware of Spoonflower as an online resource for new patterns and original designs through social media – instagram and facebook, but I hadn’t realised the design studio platform and ability to submit designs for review and manufacture.
Ive uploaded the few patterns I produced so far – Its a great online resource of patterns and designers offering both the chance to manufacture small quantities of your designs and also sell the designs directly, generating commission ($$$). It also offers a bit of feedback – designs made public are available for comments and eventually sales as an indicator of popularity. What a find.
For the latest addition to my ever busy life I decided to learn something new. As part of the latest brief I have been looking at surface pattern – the vast designs and endless applications have taken a little narrowing down, but I have experimented with processes to achieve images as a baseline for new pattern design. This proved harder than I thought.
Although I had an idea of the difficulties involved in first designing and then constructing, repeating and matching a swatch to a repeat pattern, what I hadn’t quite really been prepared for was my unending research (when do you stop!?) and for it to take the ‘wind out of my sails’ with a combination of awe turning to inadequacy and finding that a lot of subjects and ideas had already been produced and what looked like extensively exhausted.
But then – reality check- luckily, I’m a student. My job doesn’t (yet) depend on this and I’m not under any pressure to produce an entirely new range of patterns. I should turn it on its head and find inspiration from awe.
So, my next step took me to the Bluecoat Screen Printing studio in Liverpool. A great resource available to hire for local students, printers, artists and designers. Screens, check. Inks, check. Textile medium, check. Squeegee check. … I took my favourite and probably simplest pattern so far (‘Honesty’ brick repeat). Original design comes from an ink and pipette sketch I made, scanned in and made into a repeat, matching the edges to make sure it tiles well.
So. It was a very educational visit. I learned the problems of printing on acetate (with an unhappy computer). Which side is the ‘right’ side to print on (after first finding the ‘wrong’ side). How to edit Photoshop images into greyscale and bitmap to achieve the right quality for exposure. How to prepare a screen with emulsion (and how important it is to do this evenly and thinly). Which screens are used for textiles and why (45 -60T). The difference between yellow and white mesh and the effect on UV exposure time. How to do an exposure test. How to know if screen is under exposed and what to do (deep breath and start again). How to clean and degrease a screen and exactly how soaked you get using a pressure washer to do it.
So with the screen exposed again and washed-out I was able to mask off, mix ink and textile medium and print. I discovered multiple passes are needed depending on the absorbency of the fabric. I used a backboard behind the cloth, but still ran into problems with the fabric moving slightly between passes (argh).
Exact pattern matching was difficult. I now know this has to be reflected in my pattern which should ideally ‘absorb’ and slight mismatches. The ‘honesty’ did this quite well, and particularly since I was just using a single colour design. Also with fabric you can’t print 2 patterns adjacent to each other straight away- one needs to be touch dry to avoid the screen smudging the just printed pattern. For this reason the repeat should be as large as possible and ideally the width of the fabric – since found out that in industry manufacturers use massive yardage screens.
So I left with a little bundle of printed tea-towels and fabric offcuts. It felt good to try something new. Admittedly the print quality was’t great but it was an experiment with a production method and perhaps the main lesson learnt was to think about how the pattern is going to be produced (i.e. printing method), what it is going to be printed onto, and how it is going to be used right at the beginning and you can make it a little easier.
I feel it a bit like back to the drawing board/mac, but overall my designs should be better as a result of what I discovered at the screen printing session. I’m still working on more digital patterns developed from collaged acrylic cutouts and want to explore linoblock handprinted designs.
Today someone called me a hoarding perfectionist. A bit of an odd observation, to be fair, but it started me thinking about how we come across and how this can differ from who we actually are.
Lets deal with the Hoarder tag. I like to collect things, interesting items. In my mind this is different from hoarding. My definition of a hoarder would be collecting things that don’t serve a purpose. In my case (although I can see others may not appreciate the purpose) I keep ephemera and personal items of interest.
I collect memories – more specifically visual inspiration, stimuli, things that I’d like to see again, feel again, even smell again. Things with history, things in retirement with a previous working life and I enjoy bringing forgotten items and objects back into use, back to life. Re-purposing, re-using, re-cycling. Its all too easy to get swept away in the ‘throw-it-away-and-buy-a-new-one society of today.
Now the perfectionist label. Well closer to the truth – its a spectrum and I like to do my best, but I’ve not problem not being perfect. I love randomness, making combinations, throwing things together and seeing what happens. I like messiness and experimenting, -The ‘what-if?’
I can quite happily accept mistakes, reflect on what happened and move on – I did my best and I can try again another time. In fact every artist and creative should know that sometimes the best work comes from the ‘happy accidents’.
- “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Scott Adams.
We take very little time to reflect on ourselves, maybe for good reason – we may not like what we see, or maybe because its actually a difficult thing to do. Its similar to looking in the mirror – we assume what we see is what others see, but not true – in fact we see our reflection.
So after a spot of self reflection – I feel I have more than justified who I am. Not that we should have to – if I was a hoarding perfectionist well that would be just fine…
Hoarder; No. Collector; Yes…. Perfectionist; No. Too much wanting to please others; Maybe.