I was inspired to take on this project when I read an article on a website (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/12/22/design-something-every-day) that suggested that I design one thing every day. The article said that it would help me to become a better artist, allow me to thoroughly learn my design tools, and build a thorough portfolio of design work. Many examples of this kind of project exist, such as daily photography projects with the tag ‘365’ on Flickr, or daily cooking blogs that do one recipe a day. One teacher in particular told me that doing something every day in the pursuit of making myself a better artist (one phone call, one lesson, one handshake) was the most important thing I could do. I had never seriously considered maintaining a daily regimen of creation before this project, though I’ve been creating art since I was a young boy. Since starting the project, I’ve gathered an audience who helps me to design, confidence in my tools, clarity in my choices, themes in my work, and a more grounded idea of how design affects our everyday life.
I begin the process of each of these sketches by becoming inspired by mostly external sources. I may be looking at a magazine, listening to a song, talking with a friend, or visiting a facebook page when suddenly, I will think of how something I just saw might be illustrated in a 500 pixel square. From there, I’ll usually research a concept, such as the Jersey Devil, or find free or creative commons source photos, such as a girl’s face or a flower, in preparation for working in Inkscape. From there, it becomes a matter of finding the best ways to use Inkscape to bring the concepts, visuals, and messages together in a way that I’m comfortable with publishing, sharing, and explaining to people. I’ve chosen some themes, such as faces, monsters, and quotes just to have a starting point if no other inspiration exists, but I try to use them intermittently, so that it does not turn into a monster sketch project, for instance. Techniques that I’ve discovered and that work well show up often. One, in which I trace a photo into a stark and stylized black and white image (bitmap tracing) is a technique that is in almost every sketch that I do, and has become a core part of my processing of photos for the project.
My most recent work in this project has been both fun and confident. The project itself is responsible for both of those attributes for me. I feel that by working to develop these sketches, I have asked myself to try the tools that I might not otherwise try. In mandating daily use, I attempt sketches of scenes or ideas that I would never even consider if I was making a sketch a week or working for someone else in a contract. Now, each day, as I look through the menus in Inkscape, I often say to myself “oh, look at that — I never saw that tool before” and I’ll click it and turn the effect into a sketch, building as I go. I have never done that in the past in any consistent way, because before, work in Inkscape was done to complete a particular predetermined task. For this project, learning the corners and shadows of the application have been as important, if not more important, than developing any particular kind of outcome.
John LeMasney, 365sketches.org
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