I was going to call this post "What should I apply to this vs. What can I apply this to" but it seemed pretty long, confusing and not exactly click-able (not to mention hard to fit into a tweet!) So I went with the slightly "punchier" title of "The benefits of knowing your end product". I thought I'd offer a little creative advice that has helped me create my latest range.
One thing that has come up in conversation (I think probably on #cbloggers again) was about how to stay inspired and keep creating. I offered a response at the time that was something like 'it helps to start with the end product and think "what can I apply to this". I realised I wanted to expand on this, especially as I feel like you are all probably still confused as to what on earth I am talking about.
So, my point: One thing I found when I was designing this range was that I already I had an idea of the "things" I wanted to make: the objects, the tangible 'end products'. I didn't really know what I wanted to be on them, I didn't know styles or paint types or textures or methods, I just knew what I felt was important to have in a range. (To me, that was, amongst other things, some lower-priced products which seem to do better at craft stalls than expensive prints. I'm using my notebooks as an example because they are a great way of showing what I mean. I thought I would show you my process from initial idea to realised product, cause it's super cool and it also helps articulate my point.)
With that in mind, I began to work on the themes of this collection, and came up with a few designs specifically designed to be applied to notebooks. Even from my initial sketches, you can see I had in mind my 'canvas' and how the 'end goal' would materialise. This gave me vision and purpose for my illustrations.
I have found this to be a little more successful than just drawing a *thing* and then deciding what it should become (i.e, drawing a picture and then trying to fit it onto a tote bag, or a notebook or a card, etc.)
I think that it's evident in the end result - the early vision of my end product gave me scope to be imaginative as to where the cacti would sit, and the cat's tail trailing onto the back, which is part of the subtle detail that makes it so charming. (If I do say so myself!) Not only that, but practicalities can be addressed earlier on - for the Cactus notebooks I knew in advance that I would need to paint a blank, black area to be printed onto the back of the notebook - it's just simple things that help you to prepared. It can also help you to anticipate choices of paper weight and texture, or wool-weights or metal colours, whatever your craft may be.
In uni they emphasize filling up your sketchbook first, not with pointless cutting and sticking but with quick, explorative little sketches, to envision many ideas quickly without wasting your time on things that ultimately might not work, which I think is a great way to implement this idea. They don't have to be good, just articulate your ideas.
Of course, allowing yourself to be inspired and let your ideas flow has it's merits too, but I have found that starting with a general idea has improved the quality of my work hugely.
I would love to hear your opinions on this - please join the discussion in the comments.