16 April 2020 | Less than a minute to read
Sitting in my chair, the A0 print of Ironman staring at me, looking out the window trying to engage my creative side, with the wind blowing through my office and Classic Trance Anthems Mix | From 1999 to 2001 playing in my headphones, I realise how lucky I am right now.
With the current crisis and a little bit of extra time up my sleeve, I have decided this is a good time to ask myself some questions and reflect on what got me here, troubles I've worked through and where I'm going.
The earliest I can remember any creative influence in my life was when I was very young, watching my mum sketch us while watching tv on any scrap of paper she could get a hold of.
When I was about 7, I was given a sketching book, it had several exercises for sketching text, characters, scenes and I wore that book down till it could take no more.
There are multiple filled black sketchbooks that I look back at in horror every now and then. I'm so critical of my work I need to look back just to make sure I am improving and growing.
I worked as a signwriter in my early 20s, that taught me so much about placement and typography, I was crucified for the smallest inconsistency in letter spacing. I heard the line "you can drive a truck through there!" when talking about the space between two words more than once.
I remember hand painting the side of trucks and quickly learning that you needed a steady hand, as the special paint we used did not come off easily...
worst job experience
Driving a forklift through a massive front window, twice...
best job experience
Waxing a shovel, taking it to the summit of Mt Ruapehu, and riding it down to the cark park. Those things go fast when you wax them!
I've always struggled to define my style. In terms of graphic design, I like to think my style is modern, simple, refined and bold.
When I start a project, I am now forcing myself to spend as much time as I can on paper first, if I can do 70% of the work with pen and pencil first I'm happy. I think a lot of designers tend to forget and miss this step altogether which I think is a big mistake. Especially for me coming from a traditional creative background, I need that step to get all the bad ideas out of the way and try as much as I can before moving to the screen.
This, in turn, is slowly changing my style, which I hope in the future will reflect on my work, showing through signs of traditional art, more raw hand-sketched work and generally pushing the envelope of design.
Probably the biggest struggle I've had was a large creative block. As what usually happens with your job, you focus so hard on work and doing work just for yourself slowly fades away.
Every spare moment was spent with my family, friends, and sport instead of doing anything creative for myself. The longer I spent away from my own creative work, the harder it got to produce any truly inspiring design at work.
It came to the point where I realised I had not done any personal creativity for years. It started to affect my mood, my work performance and my life in general.
I quickly decided to take part in 'Inktober' (draw something every day for the month of October). It didn't take long for the passion to come flooding back, I remembered how much fun it was to draw and the flow-on effect it had to all aspects of my life was amazing.
I've now done inktober for about 4 years running, and in between, I try to do one proper drawing a week, and every day I'm making sketches, whether it's a doodle on a notepad or a page in my sketchbook.
Working in a crisis
Times are tough for everyone and it's no different for me and my family, but I am very lucky to be in a position where I can work from home.
Sitting in my office working away while my two girls are tearing around the house can be challenging at times, but it's actually quieter than our work office!