Spring Wind Pattern

In March I took a Skillshare class taught by Elizabeth Olwen, a surface pattern designer.  She gave her students a two week challenge to design a pattern based on the premise of Spring. I decided to focus on early Spring with thoughts of mud, wind and debris, wet conditions and a sky of pale blue, grey and faded purple guiding the imagery and color palette.  Ville d’Avray, an oil painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was my key inspiration.

 

Spring Wind Moodboard - Elizabeth Olwen had her students create moodboards in the beginning of the project.  Creating moodboards or idea boards is a great exercise to get started on a new project. It is a visual guide of one's initial project brainstorm.  I found it to be particularly helpful to pinpoint the color palette I wanted to use.

 

Vector drawings of my original pencil sketches

 
 

Final pattern block

Spring Wind Pattern repeat with dark background

 

Download a free desktop wallpaper of my Spring Wind Pattern! Click either color choice below.

Spring Wind desktop wallpaper - Dark

Spring Wind desktop wallpaper - Dark

Spring Wind desktop wallpaper - Light

Spring Wind desktop wallpaper - Light

Download a free mobile phone wallpaper!  Click on either color below.

 
Spring Wind mobile phone wallpaper - Dark

Spring Wind mobile phone wallpaper - Dark

Spring Wind mobile phone wallpaper - Light

Spring Wind mobile phone wallpaper - Light

 

Work Play Play Work

 

It is difficult for an artist to continually challenge themselves and grow as a craftsperson, especially outside of art school or without an artist community. Occasionally I will meet people that express the desire to complete creative projects in writing, music, or art, but they lack the confidence and motivation to see their ideas through to the end.  I started to think about a few of the key tools and methods used in art school that helped me to maintain an active studio practice even now seven years later, and the ones that I have not been using enough to get to the next level of my craft. 

 
  1. Create a functional studio space

  2. Frequently research more about one’s craft and related topics

  3. Share art pieces or projects regularly

  4. Build relationships with other serious artists or creative makers

Sharing creative work regularly and having strong relationships with serious artists are extremely important, and are two things that I still need to improve upon.  I do not have a strong artist community like I did when I was in art school, but I am missing out on some helpful things by not putting my work in more public spaces.  Showing work holds one accountable for what they have produced, giving more motivation to complete a project with a high standard in mind before making it public.  It can also act like a beacon to call other artists into one’s everyday life.  

Other artists and creatives can provide thoughtful, constructive feedback, but it may take some effort to find the right people.  They are a great sounding board because they have developed the language to explain their thoughts based on their own creative process and experience.  A good critique can reaffirm some of the strong points in a piece as well as get the brainwaves flowing for future work.  Sharing one’s work can also be about getting closure for that piece.  Even if some of the comments received cause uneasiness or point out mistakes, there is relief in putting a project in a public space and saying to oneself, “I wash my hands of this project.  It’s over.”  Finishing an art piece or a design and then displaying it is like making a giant, satisfying check mark on the original idea that sparked the creation, and frees up space in the mind to move on to the next project.

“To achieve happiness as an artist, one has to allow the joy of making to be fulfilling enough in itself.” 

If the fear of other’s opinions, or the fear of being unskilled is overwhelming, then perhaps the concept of creating has become too aggrandized.  No one project is the end all, be all of a portfolio.  It’s important to look at each project as a way to play and enjoy the process of attempting to get an idea out into a realized form.  Often I will spend hours working on one piece of a project, only to find that it doesn’t fit and I need to start again.  Some days that can be really frustrating, and I will often waste time trying to coax an element I’ve spent so much time on already to fit my needs. Accepting that some of my art or design work is bad and needs to be abandoned is part of the process. I still enjoyed all the work I put into that failed piece and I really enjoyed figuring out a new way to complete my design.  To achieve happiness as an artist, one has to allow the joy of making to be fulfilling enough in itself.  Studio work can be a sanctuary, where the mind can build and be curious without pressure or anxiety.  A consistent studio practice is essential to allow work to be play and play to be work.

 
 
 

Wedding Invitation Contest

This week I entered a wedding invitation contest held by Minted, an online design marketplace that sells stationery and home decor.  While I was working on my design, I felt proud and driven to complete my idea.  But within half an hour of submitting my entry I felt deflated and uneasy.  I immediately thought how feeble my design looked next to the other two thousand plus entries that were so incredibly well done.  While comparing my work and feeling like I was an amoeba with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, I started to think of what I would do differently to improve some of the problems with my invitation.  I was deconstructing the other entries to find out why I thought they achieved a level of elegance and professionalism that I did not reach.  This is a good thing.  It means that by doing, I am learning and therefore entering the contest was not such a bad idea.

As an artist I have an advantage through experience thinking creatively and focusing on composition.  But as a graphic designer I need to keep in mind some principles that might exclude some of the more detailed pencil and watercolor illustrations that I have been doing lately.  Graphic design, especially for print material is about accessibility and conveying information in an eye-catching and recognizable way.  Because the print space allotted is limited and because we can only look at and take in a few elements at a time, good design must do a lot with very little.  

I am reminded of silkscreens, lithos and woodcuts that, because of their printing processes, are known for long stretches of saturated flat color, thick outlines and worlds made of shapes.  They can appear to be overly simplistic, or rich and complex at the same time.  I want to start looking at some of my graphic design projects through a printmaking lens.  How many colors would I need to use if I were making a woodcut of this brochure? How many plates would I need for this postcard if it were a litho print?  I still think of myself as an artist and printmaking learning how to become a better graphic designer.

You can vote for my Minted wedding invitation entry here or vote for one of the other inspiring designers that made me look super lame.  Here are my top picks: