I told my co-worker (remember full-time employee here!), that my best ideas seem to come while I’m sleeping or naked. Clearly, never both. Just one or the other never combined. *
The reason I told her this was because I decided to share an idea that came to me Monday morning while I was applying lotion to my skin. Don’t worry folks, it’s nothing remotely dirty. The idea was to create a wedding invitation set based on DC and therefore specifically for DC folks and events. This doesn’t mean that someone who is from DC, or loves DC so much they MUST have invitations with a DC theme can not purchase the invitations. What it means is that I’m going to specifically design a set of cards based on cities around the world. The easiest and most obvious being DC, NY, Paris, Rome and London, but there is so much flexibility!
These invitations will require quite a bit of work, which means the first thing I need to do is sketch out exactly how I want to create them. The other trick to this gorgeous idea is that it requires sewing a design on paper (my apparent technique of choice these days). This means that these sets will require much more than the standard design and will probably take a bit of time as well to create. Which leads me into another direction…how much planning do I need to do to even get these accomplished.
Of course, I’m sharing the planning stages with you now as I write out this blog, but in the moment the idea came to me, I was bend over, applying lotion to my legs. As soon as I arrived at complete standing position again, I was excited. By the time I got to work and told my coworker, I was super excited and planning what other cities and icons I could use to develop the line.
I should note that it’s these projects-the ones I dream about that come the easiest and often perform the best. What I mean by “perform the best” is that they’re loved by everyone who sees them. These are the projects that while they can be time consuming, are the ones that I really breathe life into and in turn breathe life in me. They make me dizzy with passion and love and the end result shows just that. I’m not by any means saying that the projects I don’t dream up don’t breathe life or offer high quality because they do. I am that type A personality about my work. I care about my work and I would NEVER send out work that reflects badly on me. That’s just not how I operate.
What I do mean though, is that the creations I don’t dream take forever for me to design; they require a higher scale of inspiration. Sometimes it exhausts me and I have to leave the project, which is NEVER a good thing when you’re working with a client. NEVER. It’s usually these projects where I go with the flow of things, allow some additional forces to be part of the project and see them through completion. While I’m usually pleased in the end, I’m not in love. And I think that’s part of being an artist…accepting that you can’t always love a creation, you can just like.
The first time this happened, I was devastated. I felt like I had sold myself out. I hadn’t. The client was really pleased with the end result and I was pleased that I had deviated from my normal collection of work, but I wouldn’t count it as my “best” work.
Another scenario for ideas comes when I’m in a store and I feel inspired. However, what I’ve noticed about these situations is that the end result is NEVER what I’ve imagined. In fact, I’ve often created something so far from what I thought I would create, I don’t recognize where the inspiration came from. These moments, I think are worse than feeling like I’ve sold out because I don’t love a creation. They’re much worse in my head because I feel like I’ve failed myself in implementing something that could have been great!
An example of this is fairly recent. I created four wedding invitation samples and didn’t have a definite idea so I went to the paper store for inspiration. As I meandered around, I came across the most striking paper ever–white, sheer paper pulp with a large circle pattern on the page. It was amazing. I still have it and intend to do something proper with it. The thing was, I saw it and my eyes bugged out with ideas. I knew exactly what I was going to do and how I was going to do it and it was going to be the most fabulous thing anyone has EVER SEEN! But when it came time to actually make the invitation with this paper, I couldn’t. I was facing the brick wall of nothing. And I was frustrated, so I went an alternate way. This invitation was still my clear favorite of the four I produced, but it wasn’t selected. The reason behind it not being selected was simply because the one they did pick somehow managed to describe the location, or as my client said, “If we had gone with the other reception site, we would have picked the other invitation (my favorite). It just screams of the other site-the feeling, everything.” I was so happy by this comment because I had managed to get what they wanted with limited details and because as a designer it shows that I do list and put the client before my own needs. That is what I’m getting paid to do after all, right? Yes. That makes me happy.
This all leads me to the topic of the best ideas. All ideas are best really, especially if they speak of passion and love, but I’ve found that the ones I execute the best are the ones that leave me naked to the world-that truly take me out of my element and leave me open to profound criticism or appreciation. One could say like walking down the street naked, si? Si. So get naked and see what happens! I’m hoping it all good stuff. 🙂
*You may be concerned that I’ve shared that much information, but don’t be. Over time, I’m sure that we’ll become very close and you’ll know much more, paper/stationery business aside, about me and the way my brain thinks (or maybe ticks?).