I don’t know whether I have shared this with you before but the degree that I have just completed is my first ever art course. I was discouraged from doing any practical subjects in school, instead ushered towards the more academic subjects. The same followed through for college, then I got a job, got made redundant so decided to go back to school. I knew that I loved to make things, have done since I was small so it seemed to be a logical leap to start an art course. I didn’t want to start with GCSE’s and A levels again so I applied straight to Uni and got accepted. You might ask what this has to do with the title…
You see I purposely chose to do a course that was a practical, making course only. I knew I could draw cartoon type stuff but stupidly assumed that because I couldn’t draw photo realism type stuff or had formal training I had no drawing skills. What’s more I didn’t want to draw, I just wanted to make things … but then I did something that changed everything. I took part in an Erasmus scheme and headed to Bulgaria for 3 months. Whilst there I learnt lots of new things, but I was also made to do the one thing that I hated … Draw. I had life drawing classes on 2 days a week, drawing for a good few hours at a time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say I stood in the lesson and saw the light, the error of my ways and decided to draw all the things from this point on … erm, no. I bitched and whinged and moaned and glared at the teacher … a lot … but after coming home I realised that forcing me into that situation had made my drawing skills a lot better. I learnt to appreciate my style of drawing, it’s not perfect, I’m not Da Vinci (whose anatomy drawings I adore and would kill to be able to have a 10th of that skill) but I can do something that looks like the object I’m trying to recreate.
Now back to sketch books … I can safely say that at assessment time, before Bulgaria, my sketchbooks consisted of a few squiggles on an all but empty book. I had no confidence to put my idea’s on paper because I couldn’t meet what I expected to be perfect. Instead I used to make maquettes or mock up’s of my design out of paper. These could be quite elaborate made out of paper, wire or copper …
I also take photo’s of what I have as a starting point and then alter them with tippex or markers to get the design I want. In these examples; the first is a resin block that I want to put a silver frame on, the tippex line shows where the silver could possibly go. The second picture is one I took when I was looking at distortion, I place a glass plate over Greys Anatomy pictures and then sprayed water and oil on top.
I still use both of these methods but I tend to use my sketchbook first. I sketch, then do the photo thing, then do the maquette, then I make. This helps me to hopefully have a well thought out design at the end, as the processes normally help me to work out any of the kinks that can happen when designing.
The point is now that I have realised that my work doesn’t have to be perfect I am creating much better sketchbooks that are a lot more informed … and, well, I quite like drawing in them. They create an accurate record of what I was thinking at them time, what idea’s I had and create a little cache of idea’s for future use.
What is your view on sketchbooks? Do you use them for designing or do you use an entirely different process?