I live in a world filled with surface pattern design. Some people go for solid colors, muted colors, or subtle textures.
I go for big bold graphic surface pattern designs. I’ve been this way since I can remember. Gravitating towards a Minnie Mouse red and white polka dot, picking up the striped t-shirt instead of the solid and drooling over Marimekko fabrics.
You might not know this about me, but I work full time as a book conservator (a weird very niche career that I love). But before I went to grad school to study this tiny weird morsel of the world I worked as a graphic designer. I did this for what I now consider a blip of time. I worked for a special collections library (which is where I found out about book conservation) and I also worked for an online marketing company. Sadly, both of these jobs were very dissatisfying from a design point of view. I was very constricted in my work and spent a lot of time explaining why every design element didn’t need to be shiny and rounded.
Looking back now I realize that I didn’t like working as a graphic designer because I didn’t love what I was creating. I loved surface pattern design. I went through a period where I designed weird wrapping papers and shopping bags. I dreamed of somehow turning those designs into real rolls of gift wrap, but alas it was the early 2000’s and there was no Society6, Spoonflower or REDBUBBLE to upload my work to and share it with the world. So I went to graduate school and left that whole surface pattern design idea behind.
Until now that is.
I’ve been telling myself for years that I was going to get back to that eventually…I know we’ve all been there.
It was one of those ladies that led me to start a “life experiment”.
What the hell is a life experiment?
Well according to Sarajane Case it’s “30 days of small intentional action that builds or breaks a habit. I’ve decided to think of my life experiments as a way to slowly build the bridge to creating surface pattern designs. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go from doing zero drawing to creating a surface pattern. For me that was way too big a jump. So I’ve been slowly working to build up the drawing habit to bring me closer to creating a pattern. Here’s a little glimpse on the experiments I’ve done so far this year.
February Life Experiment: Journaling & Doodling
So in February I started doing some creative journaling. I used journal prompts to get myself thinking about a topic or a feeling and once I was done writing I drew whatever came to mind. One day that was Ariel from The Little Mermaid, another it was arugula leaves and dots. To me it didn’t matter what I drew or wrote, so long as I kept doing it.
That concentrated week of journaling led me to start keeping a bullet journal. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t have one of those incredibly beautiful bullet journals filled with elaborate drawings and meticulously drawn out spreads. I have a bullet journal that meets my needs. Which for me means it’s simple, tracks what I want tracked, and gets me to sit down once a day and write a journal entry. I’ve been keeping this practice for several weeks now and have found that I really love it.
March Life Experiment: Draw in 5 Boxes
This month I decided my task would be to draw in five boxes three times a week. Sometimes an entire piece of paper can be really intimidating, so to get over that I break it up into smaller chunks. The five boxes can be any size or shape and I can fill them with whatever I want. Some days I take pictures of things I want to draw later. Other days I sit and draw while I wait for Catherine to get off work. If I’m being completely honest none of these little box drawings are all that impressive, many of them are super simple and uninteresting.
BUT what I love about filling the 5 boxes is there’s no pressure. I don’t feel pressure to create a composition or a polished finished product. All I’m trying to do is create a habit and get my pen or pencil moving on the page. I have one more week of this drawing in five boxes habit before I move on to my April experiment.
I’ll be super honest with you and say that I haven’t met my three a week quota every week, BUT I’ve come close. Quite frankly I don’t care that I didn’t hit the exact number of boxes I was supposed to. What matters to me is that I’ve drawn WAY more this month than I have in many other recent months. To me that’s progress and that’s all that matters.
April Life Experiment: Pen & Ink to Apple Pencil
In my research on how to become a surface pattern designer all arrows seem to point to a tablet and an Apple Pencil. Basically you need a way for your drawing to go from pen and paper to mouse and screen. The simplest way forward that I’ve found is an Apple Pencil. The old Kristi would have needed to buy a brand new top of the line tablet and the newest generation of Apple Pencil plus Apple Care before she could get started. Why bother otherwise?
Luckily the 2019 version of me knew that right now is not the time to throw down a bunch of money on a new supercharged tablet. Instead I opted to buy a 1st generation Apple Pencil to go with my perfectly adequate old tablet. So on Sunday I handed over just over $100 instead of giving away a month’s pay and I’m ready for my April life experiment.
My impulse is to jump ahead and say I’m going to create several patterns in April, but I know myself and sticking will these smaller goals will mean I get closer to achieving the ACTUAL big goal. So I stand by my statement. My plan for April is to continue drawing twice a week and spend some time learning Procreate. Drawings can be in my sketchbook or on the tablet, either way seems fun to me.
I realize this is a weird off topic post for this outdoorsy blog. Most people who come by my little corner of the internet are much more interested in my perfect road trip recommendations or what I thought about a campsite.
But I am called the indoorsy camper so you can also find out about books I love and why I think creativity should be part of your life. You can expect updates on this life experiment at the end of each month. It’s like my monthly income & traffic reports…but way more fun.
I also encourage you to start a life experiment of your own. In my humble opinion they’re way better than a New Year’s Resolution (which I’ve already established that I hate). If you do decide to start your own experiment let me know about it in the comments. Sometimes telling one person about your little adventure can make you feel more accountable, which is essentially why I’ve written this post. I’m happy to do the same for you.
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