If you’re a designer or an artist, then sketching’s just part of your creative process. Right? You start with an idea and jot down some words, then maybe sketch out a few thumbnails for composition, scale, perspective and so on. Well, that’s how it’s probably done…most of the time. In some rare cases, you might find yourself skipping the sketch pad and working directly in Illustrator or Photoshop to save time. For me, that was pretty much the case every time. Sketching was just something I “had to do,” rather than something I wanted/should do. Actually, it wasn’t until after I graduated college that I realized the value of sketching and how it can be used to make good ideas better.
Before college, I never really took my work seriously. What I mean by that is, I never put in the time to make a “great” or “well-thought out” piece of art. To be honest, I used to cut corners simply because I was lazy. I thought once I had an idea, it would be easy to put together all in one shot. Well…I was wrong. Designing takes time, and so do great things. There’s no specific amount of time it takes to design something. Every project’s different and it deserves its own set of hours dedicated to sketching. I figured this out a little late in the game because I didn’t find my one true passion until much later; and I’m okay with that. Of course, if I had taken the whole sketching portion of designing more seriously, I’d be more comfortable with it and have no problem with developing ideas from the get-go. Now, without even thinking about it, I end up with more sketches than I know what to do with, which is better than none.
So what changed? You ask. I started taking on projects that actually interest me. In order words, I stopped trying to do everything and focused on one thing, which is working with type. It became easier to continuously sketch and come up with ideas when I started enjoying the kind of work I was doing. When I realized this, things started feeling less like ‘work’ and more like fun. My work also started to look much better and actually reflected solutions to problems. This discovery took years to happen, and I’m happy it did. I got the chance to experience all the things I didn’t enjoy to find what I love. All it took was a little bit of getting used to in the beginning and seeing the results after putting in countless hours of reiteration (trust me, it won’t seem like a lot when you’re really into it). I eventually saw the difference between a well-developed idea and one that took the shorter route. Now-a-days I find myself not taking those same short cuts because I know what kind of role sketching really plays.
I guess what I’m trying to say with all this is, don’t be like me! Make time for the things you’re passionate about. Spend however many hours it takes to make something great, not just “good enough.” If things seem difficult at first, just practice the hell out of whatever you decide to pursue. It gets easier with time. Oh, and when your sketches start to pile up, don’t throw them away! You’ll thank me later.