WootBot


quality posts: 15 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

Photoshop, Illustrator, Gimp, Inkskape. You’ve chosen your weapon. Now comes the hard part: what do you make with it? There’s no right or wrong way to get an idea for a shirt design. Some folks get them fully formed from the muses themselves; others bash their heads against a wall until their brains come up with something just to make the pain stop. Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle. If you’re constantly finding that no ideas are coming, you might try one of these methods to help spark that brain-kindling:

Word Association
Let’s say you have a derby theme but you’re not sure where to go with it. Get a pencil and piece of paper and put your topic right in the middle of the page. Now around that topic, list at least seven or eight words that come to mind. Now add a “wild card” to the list—an idea, thought, or theme that’s been on your mind lately. It doesn’t have to relate to the topic at hand, just mix it in there.

Now take those seven or eight words and break them down. Describe each one with a half dozen descriptors. Then break those down until you’re left with some fairly broad descriptive terms. Now think of things outside of your theme that also share those descriptors and list them next to those words.

At this point you have a page full of seemingly unrelated words branching out like a tree. Now start mixing and matching. Take one of the last words you wrote and put it next to the initial topic. Move your way down the tree and across different branches. Do any of these pairings offer strong imagery? Is there a clever connection between the two? Does it inspire something else entirely?

Make it a Habit
Keep a sketchbook, scrapbook, or journal. Constantly be thinking and doodling instead of waiting around for inspiration to hit. As artist Gerhard Richter says, “It is a danger to wait around for an idea to occur to you. You have to find the idea.” He’s not the only one that knows the virtue of working hard for your art. Who knows, that doodle today might form a winning shirt design five months from now.

Mix it Up
Sometimes you can get into too much of a groove. You follow the same daily schedule, watch the same type of movies, visit the same web sites, and draw the same kind of characters. You might need what Edward de Bono calls Po. It’s a way of disrupting your thought patterns or habits in a way that throws some new ideas into the mix. Wake yourself up in the middle of the night and write down the first thing that comes to mind. Read a book or magazine you would never normally read. See a movie you would never see, draw in a style you have never drawn in. When your influences and inspiration become too homogeneous, so does your art. Mix it up a bit!

Those are just a few ways to get your idea engine tuned. So let’s talk about ideas. Thinking up new ones, polishing old gems. How does this thing called creativity work? When and where are you most creative? Is there really nothing new under the sun?...

Photos:
Idea Bulb by Flickr member qisur
Sketchbook 7th February to 12th March 201047 by Flickr member andeecollard
orange blue white swirls by Flickr member skalas2
Each used under a Creative Commons License

 



Quality Posts


bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation

I've done the word tree for logo concepting before. It's a great way to get the brain moving in weird (read: new and exciting!) directions.

I have to admit, the idea is the hardest part about tshirting to me. I've always drawn whatever I felt like drawing for me. For a shirt, however, it has to be something other people can relate to or grasp. It's a skill in itself to think of things that other people will look at and desire to put on their bodies.

Lately I've been trying to get my mind moving outside of the derbies some more. I keep a post-it note pad near me at all times to jott down ideas. Then I can revisit them later and think about if they're strong or not, search to see if they're already out there, etc. Write down everything interesting or funny you think of.

PixelPants


quality posts: 70 Private Messages PixelPants

Generating ideas is an active process for me, writing out lists of whatever comes to mind and scratching out crude thumbnails that hardly resemble the finished design. I'm generally indecisive and struggle to settle on what will work, but am learning to go with the simplest concept.

One idea that sat in my sketchbook which I thought was good ended up one of my worst recieved. A recent idea occurred to me on the day of the derby when someone said something seemingly unrelated. This lead to my most successful design.

The fact it's unpredictable makes the creative process challenging and satisfying.

nathanwpyle


quality posts: 37 Private Messages nathanwpyle

I love these posts. And Pixel, you speak truth! I never know how an idea may pan out from conception to finish - it seems totally unpredictable.

So I agree! Follow the above advice and just keep cranking out ideas.

Josephus


quality posts: 25 Private Messages Josephus

I've found that often my first idea, which is probably the stupidest idea I'm gonna have, and which I immediately abandon because I think it's so freakin' awful that I can't bear to draw it, and which I am completely right about, ends up winning the derby in someone else's design.

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

Josephus wrote:I've found that often my first idea, which is probably the stupidest idea I'm gonna have, and which I immediately abandon because I think it's so freakin' awful that I can't bear to draw it, and which I am completely right about, ends up winning the derby in someone else's design.



This happened to me on numerous occasions. Typically the idea was pretty tired and cliched, but wins anyway. Sometimes people like what's comfortable and not what's particularly original. Sometimes it's the opposite. Unfortunately there's no magic formula for what people will go for.

thatrobert


quality posts: 29 Private Messages thatrobert

I keep a perpetual log of ideas that I build every day. When I see something cool or come up with a fun idea, I jot it down.

I make an effort to keep that list long. Sometimes when browsing a magazine, I'll flip to a random page and not leave until I can turn something there into a t-shirt design -- I could be inspired by a font choice, the text, or the pictures.

When a new derby comes around, I scan through that list to see if anything matches. Usually I can't find anything that fits so then I just copy whatever Patrickspens is doing.

Seriously though -- my list concept helps more for Dailies than the Derby.


brockart


quality posts: 7 Private Messages brockart

"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case." - Chuck Close

One of my favorite quotes of recent. I thought that it fit nicely with today's topic.

Josephus


quality posts: 25 Private Messages Josephus
brockart wrote:"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case." - Chuck Close

One of my favorite quotes of recent. I thought that it fit nicely with today's topic.



I think this is also very true about "writers' block". You can always write something down. a grocery list. What you had for breakfast. something.
you can always practice drawing your fingers. or the desk. or what you think the vast cavern inside your brain must look like when you are without ideas. something can always be drawn.

davidfromdallas


quality posts: 1 Private Messages davidfromdallas

Great post. It's always fun to see people's brainstorming techniques, as there are so many ways to be creative.

nathanwpyle


quality posts: 37 Private Messages nathanwpyle
brockart wrote:"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case." - Chuck Close

One of my favorite quotes of recent. I thought that it fit nicely with today's topic.



So true! Great quote. I see it all the time when I have gotten stuck in a rut. And that is partly why I go out and take photos in the city both for fun and for inspiration.

bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation
tgentry wrote:This happened to me on numerous occasions. Typically the idea was pretty tired and cliched, but wins anyway. Sometimes people like what's comfortable and not what's particularly original. Sometimes it's the opposite. Unfortunately there's no magic formula for what people will go for.



This this this this.

There have been so many times I've seen the derby start, and boom, same idea I had (and abandoned) goes up to the top 10 ^^;. Often times I abandon ideas or concepts because I'm not satisfied with how 'original' or 'cool' they are. Then I see the same concept do well, and it's a slight kick in the pants. You just have to find a good middle ground where you're working on concepts you enjoy, while trying to add a new flair to it if you can.

Another big helper I've found is following artists on Twitter. I'm amazed at the sheer amount of cool stuff people post. Lots of links to art, WIPs, inspiration, designs, creativity blogs, etc. Just finding random people there and viewing their work helps to get the wheels turning. It can help freshen your style of open you up to new techniques.

bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation
brockart wrote:"The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case." - Chuck Close

One of my favorite quotes of recent. I thought that it fit nicely with today's topic.



Quality post. This is amazing advice. Thanks so much, Brockart. *_*

kylemittskus


quality posts: 234 Private Messages kylemittskus
tgentry wrote:Unfortunately there's no magic formula for what people will go for.



Turtles and bunnies seem to be a sure thing.

"If drinking is bitter, change yourself to wine." -Rainer Maria Rilke

"Champagne is a very kind and friendly thing on a rainy night." -Isak Dinesen

Jestik


quality posts: 50 Private Messages Jestik
kylemittskus wrote:Turtles and bunnies seem to be a sure thing.



and penguins.







fishbiscuit5


quality posts: 39 Private Messages fishbiscuit5

My most successful idea was one I didn't even particularly like. I drew it anyway because my husband insisted that I go with it. I think getting another set of eyes and ears to look at your sketches and listen to your thoughts is a good idea to help you get your thoughts focused or to give that extra little bit of encouragement you may need. Or just do what thatrobert does and copy patrickspens. That'll probably work too. :D










Mavyn


quality posts: 23 Private Messages Mavyn

Sadly, I've always found the reverse to be true--not that people strive to be creative and unique, but that people strive to make others be similar, to fit in. Punish those who stand out enough, and most people will stop trying.

Some of us just keep beating our heads against the wall, though. Or stand out for reasons that can't be changed, so learn to say to heck with it and not give in to the crowd on anything.



My speech is not parsing. I am speaking in ellipsis.

tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

I tend to think of bouncing ideas off someone to be helpful, but can it be a bad idea, especially too early in the process? I've read somewhere else that if you're working towards a large goal you shouldn't show your progress to others as it can trigger the part in your brain that registers satisfaction and makes you less likely to feel motivated to finish (unfortunately I can't find where I read this? anyone familiar with this idea?) What do you guys think? Can feedback and critiques ever be a bad thing?

geekfactor12


quality posts: 11 Private Messages geekfactor12

Maybe it's a personality thing- I don't share my ideas with people who instantly give a yes/no verdict on them, but I love having brainstorming conversations with people who build on ideas. For that kind of person, there's no such thing as too early.

If you're holding back your ideas until they're these impressive monoliths of creativity, you run the risk of never moving forward on them at all. It's better to cultivate your own sounding board (whether it's one person, a group, or many groups) of supportive and insightful thinkers. You should be able to tell them even the dumbest ideas and show them the roughest sketches, knowing that instead of laughing they'll help you to build it into something better.

I feel like coming at art and ideas from a place of fear is a good way to stop creating at all. Openness and freedom is where the most interesting stuff happens, imo.

thatrobert


quality posts: 29 Private Messages thatrobert
tgentry wrote:I tend to think of bouncing ideas off someone to be helpful, but can it be a bad idea, especially too early in the process? I've read somewhere else that if you're working towards a large goal you shouldn't show your progress to others as it can trigger the part in your brain that registers satisfaction and makes you less likely to feel motivated to finish (unfortunately I can't find where I read this? anyone familiar with this idea?) What do you guys think? Can feedback and critiques ever be a bad thing?



I've found that sometimes I can't see some of my own flaws until I post my work. In coding, we call this Teddy Bear Debugging. The idea is if you describe your problem out loud even to an inanimate object, you clarify everything and are better able to figure things out after that.

The other thing useful about getting input is to make sure your idea is actually being communicated -- to make sure your joke isn't so subtle or obscure that you're the only one who gets it.

Beyond that, I'm reluctant to share my work before I'm truly done. The things people tend to suggest the most (like color changes) are usually the things I'm least likely to be flexible on.

EDIT: On the idea side, I totally agree with GF12. It's never too early and you can't have too much brainstorming.


tgentry


quality posts: 111 Private Messages tgentry

Staff

geekfactor12 wrote:

I feel like coming at art and ideas from a place of fear is a good way to stop creating at all. Openness and freedom is where the most interesting stuff happens, imo.



I tend to agree with you GF. I think the only time I keep my ideas/WIPs to myself completely is when I feel I have a strong personal vision of what something will be and don't want to "taint" it with outside input or second guess myself. If I'm working on something I'm not 100% on it's always great to have that creative sounding board.

lonelypond


quality posts: 463 Private Messages lonelypond

I collaborate more often theatrically than with drawing or painting, but one of the exciting parts of that is finding people to work with I respect who can add to my ideas or provide a spark for a tangent.

I like to talk out art/writing ideas sometimes, partly to make sense of it as I listen to myself and partly to hear what somebody else's questions are and where an idea takes the listener's imagination. Answering a question or realizing there's a gap in my description/a part that just clunks can trigger some exciting leaps in the creative process.


Merry Christmas shirtwoot!

AdderXYU


quality posts: 38 Private Messages AdderXYU
geekfactor12 wrote:Maybe it's a personality thing- I don't share my ideas with people who instantly give a yes/no verdict on them, but I love having brainstorming conversations with people who build on ideas. For that kind of person, there's no such thing as too early.

If you're holding back your ideas until they're these impressive monoliths of creativity, you run the risk of never moving forward on them at all. It's better to cultivate your own sounding board (whether it's one person, a group, or many groups) of supportive and insightful thinkers. You should be able to tell them even the dumbest ideas and show them the roughest sketches, knowing that instead of laughing they'll help you to build it into something better.

I feel like coming at art and ideas from a place of fear is a good way to stop creating at all. Openness and freedom is where the most interesting stuff happens, imo.



Supportive and Insightful Thinkers. Don't ignore how important word choice is, folks. MJ hit it on the head.

I've seen brainstorming at its worst at woot. People who can't narrow things down without a vote, people who need every last line OK'd by someone, people who revolve around sycophants who don't know how to critique, or else people who don't have anything to add but "good" because they don't know what else could be. But I've also seen it at its best, if much rarer these days. Ideas that end up looking like nothing you'd have expected from the starting point. Ideas warped and twisted until they become something almost indistinguishable from the original seed. First ideas abandoned for a quick and dirty concept that was just irresistible but came up in discussions. And it's all about knowing who to trust.

If you want to make a grand, by all means, open all your art up to the every whim of a community of non-artists, whereupon a handful of people will give you ideas that will create a more marketable piece, in their eyes. If you want to make art, ignore that sort of brainstorming until you're entirely sure of your design (and by then, you might not need the cosmetic decisions). Instead, find people you respect. People you trust. People who will work with you, and people who will not just squee in their pants simply because its your work, but will tell you something sucks when it does. And finally, people you enjoy hearing from outside of art. Does your friend Sue tell awesome stories? Ask her for info. Does your friend Bob do nothing but flood your facebook with pictures of his kid? Don't ask him.

This last concept approaches another important bit: accepting and ignoring advice. Just as surrounding yourself with sounding boards who have something unique or interesting to say is vital, being able to analyze comments is more so. The two worst sins I see in pre-derby designs are listening to everyone equally, and not listening to anyone at all. Get to know yourself, and you'll get to know what suggestions are right for you. But TRULY know yourself. If you don't understand foreshortening, and someone says so, maybe you should react as if you care. If your work has been overdone, or includes property that isn't yours, be humble enough to realize this if someone warns you against submitting. And for the love of all which is holy, analyze opinions with as unbiased an eye as possible if you open yourself up for critique. If I tell someone something sucks, and I do it often, it's because I think it does. Do I have a point? You'll never know if you just take a "oh, well, Adder is just a jerk" approach to the comment, just like you'll never know where your work falls short if you take opinions from anyone who seems to be nice because they're nice. Learning yourself, and learning self-critique, is the best way to analyze other critique.

It's also important to realize that a sounding board isn't a friend. It could be, sure, but they should be more than that. Friends tend to let you down easy, or not want to let you down at all. Sounding boards should be willing and able to show you where you're potentially failing. Select them differently than you'd select people to get tacos with on tuesday. And seriously, DO select them. I've seen ideas stolen from pre-derby threads, though in my old age I don't remember them all. I've seen blind praise overlook simple simple flaws that led to rejections. Among the people I consider colleagues and friends here, it is far more important to have an honest dialog and a creative one. If you're not being selective, and selecting, as MJ notes, supportive (not sycophantic), insightful (as in, able to see something not everyone can easily see) thinkers (people who put the effort into the gears turning, so to speak), you're not in your art. Everyone but you is.

bassanimation


quality posts: 98 Private Messages bassanimation
tgentry wrote:What do you guys think? Can feedback and critiques ever be a bad thing?



I think it all depends on the person, and more importantly where you are getting your feedback from. If you listen to too much criticism, your own style may suffer, whereas if you listen to none, you may stagnate. It's important to try and guide people while still allowing them to remain true to their own style, ideas, etc. It's a tricky balancing act.