Process Part I: Conceptual

PenI thought a nice way to kick off my new website would be to offer a little insight into my creative process, which will coincide with my recent string of artwork. Everyone has their own processes which are usually discovered through self-discipline, so I’ll just outline my own.

Step one is simply an idea or concept. It could stem from looking at other peoples’ artwork, watching a movie, having a conversation with a friend or any number of things to spark inspiration. It could be a striking visual style you want to explore, or an abstract idea you want to visualize through a piece or series of art. The idea is the most difficult piece of the puzzle so it needs to be well-thought out, researched and explored. Anyone who knows Photoshop and Illustrator can make images on the fly, but discovering a concept that is bigger then yourself, your skills and your values is quite challenging.

My recent artwork stemmed from the idea of creating an image and style that explored the inner human. Even though skulls and things appear in a lot of my work, I wanted something more then anatomy for this idea. I wanted something that explores the idea of moving above simply existing, yet showing the similarities between us all. I also wanted to use imagery and color that could swing easily between the beautiful and the morbid, life and mortality. I want a very strong sense of duality, a theme I have been chasing for years even when naming my website in 1999.

To make the concept a little more tangible, I always write down keywords in my sketchbook that relate to each other. They could be abstract, emotional, traits, or physical items that I want to somehow incorporate into the piece. Some will be used directly through visuals, others might be conveyed through color use or composition, and some might be tossed altogether. This step helps to get ideas flowing and very much helps mold the foundation. I’ve found thesaurus.com an invaluable resource for this step.

Keeping your keywords close by, creating very small rough thumbnails is a necessity. I don’t mean a couple, I mean filling a couple of sketchbook pages of quick doodles. This step is to start visualizing composition that will help you convey your idea or image to someone who hasn’t been with you behind the scene. I’ve created lots of these thumbnails for almost everything I do, most are scrapped, some help me along with the creative process and generate new ideas and thoughts, and a very small number end up translating almost directly to the final piece (by fluke).

Conceptual is really the meat and potatoes of the creative process. We need to solidify what the idea is long before we plop down in front of Photoshop and start noodling with brushes. This will bring me to the next post, gathering resources.

1 Comment

  1. james (Author)

    Testing the comments design.

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