I keep my favorite Micron drawing pens in an old cigar box along with some India ink and my watercolors. Screen-printed and stenciled, the larger of my two sketchbooks features a vintage snake-and-bird pattern that I glued to the cover, and wouldn’t you know, creatures big and small crowd the rumpled pages. When I start making sketches, I usually don’t have anything specific in mind and what happens is very much influenced by my mood and concentration on any given day. I keep a stockpile of photographs to pull from and usually sit down with the intent of creating something representational.
On a good day, I’m completely dialed into the photograph and my pen and paper (I never draw with a pencil); the lines that are created are deliberate and fluid. Usually a pattern will emerge. Other days my sketches are impatient; the lines are fickle, loose, and chaotic. I can tell immediately what kind of day it is, depending on my focus. However, even on those days when my focus wavers and my work is not up to my own standards, the information that I gather from the exercise is useful. So when I sit down to sketch out a new design or drawing, I have to grant myself the freedom to explore the idea or subject fully and without expectations. The biggest challenge is my own fear of failure – the failure to create something good or beautiful. I have to work through it.
Once I have a solid design or work of art, then it is time to work on the actual design. There are three things that I focus on to begin with: composition, color, and placement. Obviously many of these issues have already been dealt with on paper or canvas, but when designing for a shirt, there are certain additional restrictions to keep in mind, such as size of the design (it has to fit onto a screen), placement on the shirt (you can’t print over a seam!), and the number of colors (anywhere from one to four). Preserving the linework in my sketches can be a bit tricky, especially since I often use crosshatching techniques to create shadows and tonal range in my drawings. It takes time and adjustment to get it right.
Here are a couple side-by-side comparisons of new designs and the original sketch, watercolor drawing, or painting from which they are derived.
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I hope these get you excited about my new designs for the spring. I can’t wait to burn these onto screens and print up some test shirts!