I like to taste, touch, smell, hear and see how varying ingredients interact.
Every meal should be a small celebration.
— Marion Cunningham
I’m unmistakably influenced by what is around me.
To get to where I am, I happily immersed myself in concoctions others created before me. I still do. And over time I learned to adapt those techniques to my own taste.
So when I am approached about design, I like to delve into the client’s tastes. Salty? Sweet? Complexity deceptively masked in simple presentation? Or honest simplicity? And for the life of that project, or anywhere the client is concerned, what I learn from them becomes the seasoning that personalizes my work.
There is no right or wrong where client tastes are concerned. Some palettes are sophisticated, some basic, some indulgent and leaning toward junk food. It’s only the designer that can fail. How simple or complex is the right font and right color for a company’s name? Michael Bierut wrote an essay about this very question, about showing a room the letter C in a specific font and asking how sophisticated it was. Not very was the reply. When he showed them the whole word -- Chanel -- they changed their minds. Why not junk food as inspiration for seasoning sound fundamentals? The vernacular has influenced higher forms and served as inspiration for ages. Look at the work of David Carson. I do. For hours sometimes.
I like to look at what other people do. I need the experience and the exposure to keep expanding my palette, and I don’t look only to artists and designers and cooks. I find what I need from trees and flowers, horses and dogs, ground and sky and the interplay between them all. Sometimes quite literally. One morning at 6am, I stared hopelessly at my computer screen. Stumped, I faced out the window instead, watching the slow, purple-bluish rise of a cold winter morning, the mountains in the distance a dark and angled mass obscuring the horizon. I photographed it and painted a background, and it became the starting point of overcoming my earlier design frustrations.
I have few, if any, secret recipes. I share what I know and what I have learned hoping it will benefit someone else, that it will inspire their creativity and push them to put their own stamp on it. Ever watch Iron Chef? Same concept, but with designers. Today’s secret ingredient is...Pantone 8960! Go!
For more on me, check out my CV here.
Photo by Sarah Blodgett