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How my mind (doesn't) work

February 22, 2017

I thought about writing a post on this topic a little while ago, and just haven't gotten around to it... which is the official excuse. Basically I've been putting it off because I haven't decided yet just what I'm going to say, so here goes!

 

Quite some time ago now it seems I saw a post on my favourite design site about a modern totem pole in a store in Seattle (here's the post: http://www.notcot.com/archives/2016/01/aleph-geddis-in-filson-flagshi.php). It was a really beautiful thing, angular and geometric and repetitive. I wanted to do my own version of if almost immediately, but it's taken me a while to get around to actually doing it. I do this a lot - I have a very long list of illustrations and projects that are bubbling away in my head.

I had a go recently:

and it was an okay result, but I wasn't totally happy with it. For a start some of the blocks were a bit wonky, then I printed them even more wonky - just little things here and there that could be tweaked. I didn't quite get the scale right either.

 

So I had another go. I went back to my sketchbook and designed the animals with the aim of having a unified style and took into mind the scale of them too, and here's the result of that redesign:

 still a bit of wonkiness here and there, but I'm fairly happy with the results.
But...

But I want to do another version - not that I want to copy the style of the totem pole in Seattle as such, but I'd like to take the simplification and stylisation further and push the design into a more abstract direction. It's not that I don't like the first version, or the second, it's that in my mind the design hasn't hit the nail on the head yet, it's still not quite right.

 

I think this is all part and parcel of being an artist and designer, the constant pushing and exploring and experimenting. Never thinking that you're done. It's also part of my mind never really seeing my work for what it is and never being satisfied. A slippery slope that, particularly with my issues with self-esteem and depression, but I think I err on the side of dispassion rather than despair when it comes to my work. As I told many students over the years, the figuring stuff out and the development stage is the interesting and fun phase for me - the finished piece is just that: finished and done with.

 

As you can see, I'm really interested in the depiction of black and white animals with geometric patterns contrasting against them at the moment, and I think i'm getting some good results (which is a grudging admission that they're looking quite good!)!

 

 

 

 

 

 The last few are a bit of a play and experiment. I do like antropormorphising animals, and the black suit raven (Mr Hrafn in my head, the forgotten character from Reservoir Dogs!) seems to work quite well.
The magpie is a test print of the magpie and the hexagon pattern, and turned out quite well, despite that not being the plan!

 

 

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