Inspiration and methods of design

Rayna at Studio 78 notes poses an interesting question today. She had a piece of work on her design wall for more than four months, and yesterday it told her what it needed doing to it. She asked whether this design process was different from other people’s.

I’m interested in this because before I did City & Guilds I never tried to design anything myself – I was definitely a pattern girl. But I struggled with their method of teaching design, where you more or less complete the design process before even starting the piece of wok itself. Yes, you make samples, loads of them, and that is something I’ve found useful since then, but you sit down and work out what you are going to do, based on how the samples work out, before you touch the finished object.

I find Rayna’s way of working much more intuitive. I’ve been trying it out with my journal quilts, and I start with an idea and start working immediately on it. When I come to a stop I pin it up and leave it until something comes to me as to what it needs next. Do that, repeat the process. I must say I’ve enjoyed this a lot more – it’s a whole lot more exciting! I suppose it’s the right side of the brain having a chance to work on the problem when the left side is thinking of other things…

Probably it’s easier with journal quilts anyway, because they’re small and there’s not so much invested in them if they do go wrong….

So… how do you work? What do you think?

9 Responses to Inspiration and methods of design

  1. Lisa, Procrastinator Extraordinaire 4th August 2005 at 2:51 pm #

    Sometimes I design the whole thing first and other times I do one part at a time. I usually start with the jacket back since that’s the biggest canvas. The ones that require months of sitting and looking at and listening to often don’t get finished at my house. I don’t have room for a design wall or the patience… I’m always off to something new and (hopefully) better.

  2. debra 4th August 2005 at 7:19 pm #

    I usually start with a concept or an inspiration… then start working. Something in the work carries me along until it’s done.

    When I have planned out a piece completely ahead of time, I’ve found something in the work that made me change. Fabric cut wrong… whatever.

  3. Karoda 5th August 2005 at 8:31 am #

    I would love to at least try designing straight through to the end before starting a piece just for the sake of comparison…a friend took a workshop from Nancy Crow and I think this is the method she learned to do there. I’m sure there are benefits to doing that way, but life is too short and that process seems overly cumbersome.

  4. Scrapmaker 5th August 2005 at 10:26 pm #

    I have worked both ways, usually less chance of a “mess” if I sketch it all out first. That being said, I rarely start with more than a glimmer of an idea or a small scribble before I dive into the stash. Very often even the original idea gets changed in the process. Jen

  5. arlee 6th August 2005 at 3:28 pm #

    I’m with Caitlin–spontaneity works better for me. I may have a germ of an idea, or a scrappy little sketch, but planning out the whole thing usually ensures that it goes by the wayside as i feel i’ve “been there, done that, burned the tshirt” 😀

  6. Frances 9th August 2005 at 8:36 pm #

    Liz, your C&G work is for others for a qualification, your journal quilts are ‘yours’ for you,
    if you did your C&G like your journals then the tutor and assessor would not know ‘how you got there’
    when C&G is over you will develope your own style of working that is right for you, which is what you are doing with your journals,
    you are growing in confidence and creativity, it’s great,

  7. gabrielle 5th August 2005 at 10:11 am #

    great question..different strokes for different folks. My approach is to design to draw and sketch..then enlarge drawing making changes along the way….and then married to the design. Doesn’t stop spontaniety…that comes in color choice and placement. For me, composition is everything…don’t think I could do that without the original design work.

  8. Caitlin O'Connor 5th August 2005 at 1:16 pm #

    YES! This IS an interesting question! I just posted about the start of my design process – which is: start with a vague idea (usually very nebulous and only captured in 2 second notebook scribbles which only I can read) – then go to the stash and start pulling out fabric. If it’s speaking to me enough to get retrieved from the stash, it’s working! Then I move on in fits and starts from there. Anything I’ve “planned” from start to finish usually dies right there – I feel like I’ve already been there, done that.

  9. Rayna 7th August 2005 at 6:33 am #

    Ah, I knew there had to be more of a conversation on this subject. Glad I found it! Interesting how many different ways there are to work. I believe our workstyle is more an indication of our personality and a function of our Myers Briggs type than anything else. I have strong opinions about this. But that’s another subject…