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Keeping a Sketch-Book

Good Practice for Arty-Types

R Proffitt
by Richard Proffitt
iopan design

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Observation

It's something that most designers and artists often take for granted, but thinking creatively is a skill that can be developed. Even if it's not happened yet, there will come a time when the creative juices simply dry up and you wonder where your next great idea will come from. When that happens, consider some of the techniques on this page.

Invention

There's nothing wrong with a healthy bit of obsession! So read as many books on art & design that you can get hold of – Immerse yourself in your subject. Follow blogs, read articles - anything that can help to develop your train of thought. Of course, sleep when your tired and eat when your hungry and get some exercise... but obsess, obsess!

Inspiration

Carry a sketch book around with you and note down or sketch any idea, dream, passing thought that crosses your mind... no matter how strange or unrelated. Your subconscious talks to you in often very abstract ways. Your left-field ideas may well develop into concrete solutions – Think outside the box and remember, everything is of value.

Pencils, Pastels & Pens

Try to develop what the ancient Egyptians called "The Intelligent Heart" - this is where we acknowledge that the heart has consciousness and that it needs to be loved. One of the greatest blocks to creativity occurs when we feel stress and pressure – damaging your relationship with yourself. Meditate on expanding your loving heart for an hour each day.

Paints

Nobody is an island. We all need to develop and maintain positive relationships with numerous other people. For creative people, it is especially true when we think of the requirement for feedback and, of course, an audience. So spend some time chatting with and befriending your co-workers, family, friends, acquaintances and strangers. Ask for their opinions.

Colours

You already possess - in your memory - a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. So work with your memory to develop creative thought now. Take about half an hour recalling a room from your childhood. Imagine yourself at child's height. What do you recall? What sensations, colours, textures, smells do you sense? Write the notes in your sketchbook.

Photographs/Images

If you've spent a long time at the irony face - digging out choice amusing ideas for your marketing team, now is the time to stop! It's a sad fact that our modern culture is saturated with post-modern irony and cynicism. This trend just won't lay down and die. Not only is insidious, but it really does destroy true creativity. Make a commitment to being earnest and dump the irony.

Layout Sketches

The creative mind sees patterns in random things - so let your mind wander a little. When you can, analyse a little piece of your day; an interchange, a trip to the shops, the passengers on the bus.. Can you see any meaning behind these random events? Perhaps a colour, a tune, phrase or piece of poetry will come to you. Note it all down.

Collage

You already possess - in your memory - a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. So work with your memory to develop creative thought now. Take about half an hour recalling a room from your childhood. Imagine yourself at child's height. What do you recall? What sensations, colours, textures, smells do you sense? Write the notes in your sketchbook.

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Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci produced many fine sketchbooks during his lifetime; they contain a wealth of anatomical sketches, observations of the human form as well as meticulous diagrams of warfare & other machines.

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