Artistic Planning

My mind churns out a consistent stream of new ideas to turn into artistic works. Typically I have anywhere between 3-4 creative projects in various states of completion at one time. I fall under the "rotational" school of creativity where I'll work on one project and keep on it until I feel I can't progress anymore. Then I switch to the next, and so on and so forth. Being a creative person of this type means that there is some preplanning and organizing involved. There has to be a flexible plan that allows me to rotate between each unfinished project. For each project that I have that does not take an hour or so to create from start to finish, I have a simple workflow that keep my items together with my layout ideas so I can pick up where I left off when I am in the mood.

When I get an idea for a new project, I try and envision exactly what it looks like and contains and what things construct this art. Then I grab a blank D*I*Y Planner Project Form and write down some notes about this piece. For example, I'm working on making an altered book that collects and displays my favorite wine labels. I don't drink a whole lot, so this project is going to take me a long time to complete. This sort of long term project is perfect for what I'm writing about here. On my Wine Labels book project form I make a note that I need a hard-bound book and maybe some articles on wine making, keeping, drinking, wine country maps and some labels. I also write down on the form a quick idea for what order the pages are going to go in and roughly how many pages I'll want to have in the end. (Note: Altering books requires you to rip out about 20%-50% of the current pages in a preexisting book. So it's a good idea to estimate how many pages you want to have remaining and whether or not you'll want to create 3 dimensional art in the book).

Then I grab one clear 12" x 12" inch plastic folder. This becomes the project's inbox. Everything and anything I associate being used for the project goes into it. Magazine articles, quotes, stickers, images, background papers, whatever ephemera I'll want to use when working on the project. For the wine book, I've got articles on how to select wine, store wine, some maps of various "wine countries", recipes for wine foods, and labels that I have removed from wine bottles from wines that have interesting labels or have a good flavor to them. I've even got some wine charms to adorn the pages of each chapter that will hang on the outside of the book. Again, you put everything that's going to be used into this folder. Even a picture of Bacchus, which I may or may not use. If and when you decide not to use an item, you can move it to another folder for later use or trash it.

My file folders are expandable. Therefore, the large inbox allows me to add more things to it as I find them over time. And it allows me have one central location to sort through all the goodies that will go in my creative projects instead of having to waste time searching for each little thing in my increasingly overcrowded studio. It gives me more time to be able to focus on what I want my art to be and not on hunting down those images that I may have tucked somewhere where my brain may not find them.

Before I actually make any art, I'll grab a few of the D*I*Y Planner Storyboard forms to start generating ideas on how I want my pages to look. I try and keep a small stack of these forms on my desk and in my hipster for when the muse of layouts hits me and I find myself wanting to create pages in my books. They allow me to quickly sketch out page layouts and ideas before I commit them into the final product. I jot down any notes on colors and ephemera to add to the layout and then the form gets dropped into the front of my project's folder inbox so I have it ready when I go to work on that project.

There are two reasons why sketching out ideas before you do them is a good idea to do with your art. First off, storyboards allow us to quickly generate a few ideas for the layouts to add to you projects. It helps bust through the "artist's block" when it comes to making art. Before using the Storyboards, I found myself often not being able to make any art; even when I wanted to. I'd pull out my folder, spread out all the nifty pictures and things I collected for my pages and wham... my mind goes blank on what I should do with all those items and I end up not creating anything at all. Secondly, it helps to get over the fear of ruining your project books by doing something wrong. The Storyboards allow me to generate lots of ideas and layouts before I select the final one that best showcases my carefully chosen art elements.

When I have a folder that's full of paper, images and ephemera, it's ready to make some art. I'll go into my studio and select one of the project folders that strikes my mood and spill all the contents out on the floor or my workbench. I grab anything else I may need to work on the art and get going. A candle is lit, appropriate creative music is selected on the iPod and the hours begin to pass...

Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Nice article!

I really enjoyed this article. I'm glad to learn that I am not the only person who always has several "projects" going on, and rotate between them. I've always beat myself up a bit for leaving some thing unfinished for long periods, but now I don't feel so bad. And I like your ideas of collecting all the stuff in one place, and keeping pages in your hipster to jot down ideas. Thank you!

I'm glad I could help. I

I'm glad I could help. I wish I could just work on one project at a time but I find that rotating through lots of projects feeds my creativity and keeps me busy.

And yes, it's okay to go long periods of time without finishing something... I know I get into moods where I don't write or don't make something.

I consider those times as "battery recharging" where my inner muse needs a holiday; during such times I'll read books.



This ia a really inspiring article! I decided to follow thi smethod immediately, though I will go mixed: for some idea collecting I will use the D*I*Y Planner forms as described, but for some I will use my OneNote, a program I purchased last year and make not enough use of - this might become my storing place for similar projects!

Thanks a lot for this article!

Imagination is intelligence having fun!