Pop! And it’s gone.

The bulging pile of paper sheets sitting on various shelves in my small studio room are testament to the hard learned (many years ago I might add) lesson that for every stack of ideas one might have, only a very few ever really make it out into the world in a finished form that we the creators are fully happy with. In the commercial design environment where I used to spend much of my time this is certainly the case and the reason why the search for a new industrial design for a mobile phone, for example, starts with hundreds of design sketches. Only after a protracted process of editing, refinement, lots of trips round an iterative loop and endless testing is the final design isolated.


What’s the point of the above? Well, I suppose it’s a comment on ones ability to accept that no matter what you might think there is still a very strong reason why iterative exercises and endless failures must remain a fundamental part of any personal creative undertaking. Personally, I like it when things don’t go quite right. It makes me refocus on what I’m doing and forces me to analyse why it didn’t work in an effort to learn something new and move forward.


This is what’s happening with this colour sketch above. I knew I had to put some kind of background in. I thought I’d try and keep it simple. I had a funny feeling it wasn’t working before I’d finished but, I carried on, and I think mainly to see if it would turn out as bad as I’d suspected. I think it did. I will probably find ten things wrong with it if I think long and hard about it. But I don’t feel the need to do that as the thing that hits me first is that it kills the drawing. It’s taken any and all of the “pop” away from the core image and drowned it in a sea of mid-toned dullness. ‘Pop’ is the word I use to describe in very simple terms an images ability to jump out of the page at you. The colour drawing in the previous post has it and many of the black and white drawings have it too. For me it’s about contrasts. Tonal contrasts across a drawing and between foreground and background. And intensities, particularly when using colour, again between foreground and background.


In theory I should know better, I’ve been making images for long enough to balance these things instinctively but, it doesn’t always work like that, so moments like this are always useful because they force me to step back from the work and consider carefully what I’m actually doing.


I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with it. I could use it as the basis for a good fiddle in Photoshop just to play with tonal values quickly or I may take the opportunity to recolour another print and find that missing pop.



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