The last 2 months have been quite a journey for myself as a designer. I went on a period of self discovery. Working as a freelancer you often have to be everything to everyone and that makes you super diverse. Which is great, you maximize your opportunities. Through that though, I became unsure of what my natural style of drawing was. As we do in times of doubt, i turned to 4 of my closest 'designer' friends... to my surprise they all told me they could see my style, and what they thought it was. More surprising to me, was that they all said the same kind of thing. As is often the case though, I had to find out for myself, i had to invest sometime in myself outside of the client work. I wasn't sure where to start. ironically, I've always either been told what to do by clients or i've adhered to their brands principles. I'd never really thought of myself as the client or a brand. So here are the steps i took to find my own visual voice.
1. I prayed (this is totally optional). I believe talents are given to give back and so i had to start there.
2. Make your own brief. For me this was useful as this is the pattern i've had for creating successful work my whole career. Why reinvent the wheel. I found something that interested me, made a quick mood board, with color chips inspirational runway tears and other visual research.
3. Set a deadline. Having a deadline was great. One thing that was different was i gave myself a luxurious deadline. Three weeks, that never happens with clients they always want it tomorrow. I calculated how much time i needed for drawing and working them into final repeats.
4. This is a fun step. Set the scene. I made my space conducive to work. Nothing fancy. For example I wiped the Ketchup and Nutella off the table. Then collected a selection of tools to work with. Then I cranked my music. And started to draw, paint and make art. I wasn't precious or overly analytical at this stage. I just made as much as i could for 2 weeks. I had quite a stack at the end, but i didn't proceed with everything. Remember that is ok, every drawing helped to get you to your end goal.
5. Make the cut. This can be hard, find what worked and do more of that! It helps to perfect it and make it come out more naturally the next time. For me at this point it was bubbling out and i was loving it. I quite fancied sitting at my table forever drawing. Not possible as i had a deadline and i had to get a wriggle on.
6. Finesse and repeat. Then I put my raw material into my computer and did all the necessary steps to make the drawings into workable surface designs. That took a week and I really only had 12 patterns that I created, but they were mine and my best to date.
7. Share. This can be worrying but you have got to let people know what you've been up to. Send out some kind of promotional packet, personal emails, messages via Linkedin and let people know what you are capable of. I feel so proud of where I am now as I did it, I have a style and work that I can share. I've had some fantastic feedback, but the best thing is knowing I do have a personal style and can also be a shapeshifter. I'm so looking forward to doing this whole process again for my next collection. It's not rocket science but it worked. I'd love to see what you get up to and would love to feature your work and to support you in getting the word out.
So was it the same as my friends had described before this personal journey? Yes and no. Yes in that i gravitated towards my trusted tools and materials. But no, in that each motif had more personality because i gave myself permission to experiment and more time than i typically get working for my clients.