Sometimes we have clear pictures in our heads. Be it an idea, an illustration, or a clear vision of which new table would fit perfectly in our living room. As clear as the images may appear in our mind’s eye, trying to describe them to another person is usually doomed to failure. Others can’t see what we see by telling it with words.
The same is the case with music. We ask a friend, “What is the title of this song?” and start whistling, humming, or tapping the melody. In our head, it’s spot on, while the other person has no clue at all. We can’t understand why she does not recognize it. It’s so obvious! When we finally remember the song’s title, enlightenment strikes, and she goes, “Oh, I see… I would never have recognized that.”
We are primarily visual beings. Seeing and recognizing comes easily to us. I never explain my illustration ideas to the client. I have to show them. For one thing, when I try to visualize them, I first recognize for myself whether the concept works at all. On the other hand, they give the client and me a joint basis for discussion.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
What exactly makes a child an artist? The first thing that comes to mind with this is fearlessness in creating. A toddler who sees a pencil and a piece of paper doesn’t hesitate for a moment. She doesn’t wonder if the paper is rough or shiny. She doesn’t consider whether the crayon is sharpened or dull. She starts, draws lines, taps dots on the paper, and tries different colors.
As soon as she is done, she puts down the pencil and runs to her friends or the next toy. She has already forgotten her work. She does not sign it and then carefully puts it in a folder. For the toddler, the picture has no value. When my son scribbles lines on a paper, I’m the one who keeps it or hangs it on the wall. He, on the other hand, moves on.
From an adult’s perspective, this is enviable. It is not about fearlessness but the absence of judgment. The child does not yet evaluate her work or compare herself. She has no expectations towards herself, her abilities, or her talent and does not think about the expectations of others. She just does it and then does it again.
This approach we can take as a model because, out of fear of the outcome, we often don’t even start or, as Homer Simpson would put it, “Trying is the first step towards failure” 😉
A sketchbook can be an outlet. It’s where we can try things out, make mistakes, and record bad drawings or ideas. The pages are not masterpieces. They are our playground. And when the book is complete, we close it and just move on.
Sketching has many forms. For example, a product designer can visualize his idea through sketching. He slowly feels his way towards the project and can share and discuss the designs with others. The same is true for logo designers or illustrators when finding a suitable composition. So sketching is the first or preliminary stage of the process to realize something.