Welcome to Part 2 of our Interview with Designer and Fashion Illustration Instructor, Julie Ann Silverman. In this part of the interview, we talked a bit about the creative process and how she stays motivated. I think it makes for some inspirational reading and I hope you do too!
Jennifer - Can you give our audience some insight into your creative process?
Julie Ann -
I don’t wish my creative process on anyone. It is messy and chaotic to the outside observer. It is always last minute as I’m a devout procrastinator. Client projects are always first, and I have rarely missed a deadline. Personal projects can float around for years. I’ve been creating art/product long enough to accept that this is just my process:
1. I keep my eyes open at all times to the world around me, but I try to focus on projects at hand. Inspiration is everywhere. I do a lot of color work, so I always have my eye open to pleasing color combinations. I take a lot of screen shots and photos with my phone. I use Instagram and Pinterest. I will research any references that I will need with books and the internet. Often, I will gather too much, though it is good to have imagery to say no to because it helps me understand what I really want to say yes to (my voice).
2. I sharpen my pencil. Depending on the project, I may do a brain spill onto paper of all the words in my head, or rough sketches of ideas that I like. I write words in outlines and bubbles. I may add words to my drawings with arrows and notes. I write all over my sketches/pages so that I’m not too precious about anything. I circle my favorite ideas in the end. Sometimes, I don’t even go back to look at these pages. The act of getting something onto paper is the most important part.
3. I know myself. I work best at night. Some people work best in the morning. It helps to recognize your most creative time zones and work with them.
4. I will wait for time to pass until I can’t wait anymore. This allows me to let the creative juices flow in the background and problem solve. I have to have quiet times throughout the day for my brain to rest without input. (no music, no podcasts - nothing) Great ideas will usually pop into my head during these times of day dreaming (while driving, showering, folding laundry) When I feel the pressure of the deadline approaching, I will go back to my original sketches/ideas and start the project. The key is to START. Once I get rolling, it will be hard to stop. I will finally be in ‘the zone' and creativity starts to pour out. Sometimes I forget to eat. I always lose track of time.
Jennifer - What are your favorite sketching tools? Do you prefer pencil or marker?
Julie Ann -
I use a regular pencil to start all of my sketches. If I want to further develop an idea, maybe for a presentation, I will use markers or paint.
Jennifer - What are some of the things you are planning on covering in our Fashion Studies Course?
Julie Ann -
We all need a place to start when creating and making mood boards is one of the best tools we can use to get the creative juices flowing.
Finding images that I love is one of my favorite things to do. I can compile these images in endless combinations, especially if I’m working on my computer. When I was in school, I started making mood boards the same way that we do in our class, by cutting out images and pasting them to a single board. It’s still fun.
The most important aspect is really learning more about yourself, your style and what looks appeal to you most. Your choices will be entirely different from your neighbor, your co worker, or your friend. The process helps you to develop your own voice and signature in your creative work and figure out how to express your ideas.
The second reason that designers use mood boards is to help narrow down the endless possibilities into a few key ideas to present at a time. The process helps you focus.
Here are some ideas that I am asking our students to consider when compiling a mood board:
What season are you working on? Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter
Who is your ideal customer? If you are designing for someone else, what does that person like to wear? How do they want to feel when they wear your clothing?
What key design element would you like to include in your collection?
Jennifer - From what I've seen so far in our communications and interactions, I can see that you are both hard working (lots of handouts for students without being asked, yay!) and internally motivated. Do you have an "Staying Motivated" tips for aspiring creatives?
Julie Anne -
If you are feeling blah about your work, schedule an artist date with yourself. Go out into the world by yourself and see work by other artists. Or, you can stop to smell the roses and appreciate the immense beauty of the natural world. Have you really examined the wings of a butterfly? I have and I designed an entire collection around them. Find a gallery, a museum, a forest, the beach - you get the idea. Instagram doesn’t count. Be present in the experience and slowly take in the sights, the smells, the sounds - all of it. Drink it in. You must feed the ember of your creativity with some new oxygen and get the fire burning again. Changing up your environment will truly shake things up in your head.
When doing work for someone, including yourself, make it a goal to over deliver. If you set your sights on just getting by, or meeting the minimum you will dazzle no one. My grandma always said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” as she would pull out your hand sewing and make you do it again. I agree with this wholeheartedly. There is a lot of mediocrity in the world. Don’t contribute to it, it’s boring. It will mean extra work for you. It will mean pushing yourself further than your comfort zone. The reward is feeling proud of your work and we all need a bit more of that at the end of the day.
“The worst thing I can be is the same as everyone else. I’d hate that.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger
You will be disappointed. You are your own worse critic. Avoid the temptation to beat yourself up about it. Accept that you are a student of life, a work in progress, and are committed to learning and growing through your disappointments. Your mindset is your biggest roadblock. Stop to ask yourself what you would have done differently to improve upon your work. Continue moving forward and give yourself the chance to try again. Creating is a journey. As long as you know you did your personal best, you won’t stumble upon a single outcome. This ugly hand that you have just sketched is of no importance to your future body of work.
If there is an idea that you have been carrying around in your head for a long time that you have not addressed, commit to take some action. Give yourself a deadline. If you finally try it and realize that you don’t like it, then at least you learned something new about yourself. I thought about re creating photographs in the style of Old Hollywood movie studios since 1990. I didn’t actually stage my first photoshoot until 2013. That is a long time to be ignoring that nagging voice in my head. Regrets are hard to swallow when you are at the end of your life and can no longer do anything about them.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘ you cannot paint.’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.’ - Vincent Van Gogh
Lastly, just be grateful. The ability to adjust your own mindset to lean more towards a positive perspective will serve you well throughout your life. I have found the best way to do this is to create a gratefulness practice. A what, you say? I name something that I am grateful for every day. Sometimes I write it on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Sometimes I just make a mental note of it before I go to bed. I have been doing it for two years now and truly believe that it has rekindled my curiosity about the world and the people in it. I’m grateful that I have had the chance to experience the magic of living.
Thanks Julie Ann! All very sage advice for the New Designer!
Until Next Time, Happy Fashion!