Monday, February 14, 2011


The next little sample from the "Design Methods" chapter of my up-coming design book, Alice Through the Proscenium:

Ask Questions -  “What if…?”  “If only…?”  “I wonder…” and “Wouldn’t it be interesting if…?” 4.14

Diary – Carry a sketchbook and scribble as ideas occur.  Tape in fabric swatches and paint chips.  Note research and questions.  Alternatives.  It becomes a day-book recording your process.  Your sketchbook may become an ever-growing pile of sketchbooks, years of compiled research and thought, a very personal encyclopedia.  Leonardo published his.

 "Alice looked on with great interest as the King took an enormous memorandum-book out of his pocket, and began writing."
Drawing – Draw every day.  Draw your coffee mug, the blue jay on the fence, a single leaf.  Like the sisters in the Dormouse’s story, draw anything:

  “- they were learning to draw, you know –“
   “What did they draw?” said Alice.
    “Treacle …  and they drew all manner of things – everything that begins with an M –
     “Why with an M?” said Alice.
    “Why not?…  such as mousetraps, and the moon, and memory, and muchness –“

Constant drawing helps in two ways: by making you really look at the world, and by exercising your hand.  (If a coffee cup is tough, maybe practice would help before drawing the frustration of Hamlet?)  Like any skill, drawing gets easier, better, faster with practice.  You begin to think with your pencil.  Different tools – pencil, pen, marker, lipstick – give different results.  Try a computer, but also try paint and pen-and-ink and markers.  Keep practicing.

Other advantages to practicing your quick-draw is that it can be used right there in the meeting.  It helps sell your ideas: an excited, “You got it!” aided by a bold, fast, effective scribble on the director’s cocktail napkin is almost irresistible.

4.14 Author Neil Gaiman gives these and other insights on the Idea Question at his website - look under “Neil’s Essays” and “Where do you get your ideas?”

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