Thursday, July 2, 2009

Design Nugget - Fun and Fresh

The irony of my blog title - bethandersonDESIGN - was brought up to me in a recent conversation. So here's another design nugget for you.

One of my favorite blogs to visit for inspiration is The Sartorialist. While the focus of his site is mainly photography and fashion, I always find myself coming away with creative inspiration that I can't find anywhere else. Sometimes it's in the pattern of a floating skirt that I can apply to a design. Sometimes it's the way he writes about his creative process. Sometimes it's the composition of his shots. Sometimes it's just the way he captures a spontaneous moment or expression.

Today's post (I am copying the text, but you really should check it out for the photographs. I can't find how to directly link to a single post - so you're just going to have to look for today's date and the title is, "The Lido with My Workshop Students, Venice.") was particularly insightful to me, as it was something that I recently experienced.

"As I mentioned yesterday I am in Venice conducting a workshop with local Venetian students. A few want to be photographers but most are aspiring fashion designers.

Explaining to the students the hows and whys of the way I work has been a real refresher for me. So many of the things that I do are instinctual, but verbalizing it to someone else really helps to restore my focus on the fun of my job/art.
The first day here we walked around Venice trying to shoot people in a similar way that I would in New York - it was a disaster. No one interesting to shoot, very hot and the students weren't really motivated. After a while we all sat down as a group and I tried to find out what they like to do when they have free time. Most all of them said that they like to go to the beach. So the next day we went to the beach.

I wanted to them to see that you don't have to separate having fun and taking pictures. I take pictures walking around on the street because I find it very relaxing and fun. What each student needed to do was to find what they were passionate about and try to capture that passion with images.

I tried to explain that if they want to become a fashion designer they should try to take photos that will inspire a certain feeling of a season, or a gesture, or a mood. The pictures that I took above are, to me, the essence of Summer. If I was a designer I would look at photos like this at the beginning of the spring design season, just to remember what it is that everyone loves about the sun, warmth, and vacation."

Last week we had a crazy week of new campaign pitches here in our office. It's been awhile since I've worked on concepting, and since things were already stressful, I decided to jump out of the box a bit and do something totally unexpected for our industry. It's very rare that we are able to use a really beautiful image, or a really pretty serif font, but in order to stretch myself out of the norm and take a break from the tense vibe, I did exactly what is suggested above - I went back to what I love and what I have fun with. As a result, I ended up with several lovely concepts that came across as very fresh and new.

I think as a designer, especially in a niche industry, it's easy to get caught up in "what we do." I actually love working with layouts and typefaces that aren't natural to me. I think it makes me a better designer. However, it's refreshing to remember that it's always OK to what is fun to me...long live the serif small caps and italicized lower case serif "f!" *sigh*. I think I need to re-think the Baby's name so that it includes an f...

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