THIS BLOG CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

Friday, March 25, 2011

How Designers create, the style discussion

I had a fascinating conversation with my pal, Doris Chan the other day.  She really said something so basic and validating that I had to share with you!

First, you all know that I have a background in psychology, and while I have studied why people do what they do and how to get them to do something different, and how and why they relate to the world and others the way that they do... I have never studied how people create.  And, it never really crossed my mind! (How odd!)

Apparently Doris' thinking about how people create is of course the result of her experience in her own creating of design, and seeing how her friends and peers are similar and different, but also she attended a talk of some sort with Sally Melville on the topic of creativity.  (Wouldn't that be fascinating?)

In my conversation with Doris the other day she asked me if I swatch much.  Feeling some what guilty, I said, 'not really as much as I think other designers do'.  Which is the truth. While I may have a dozen swatches, I know other designers... cough, Vashti, cough, Robyn, who probably easily have hundreds of swatches lying around.  I told Doris, no, I don't swatch much, I usually just grab hook and yarn and start.  She says to me, (this is the magic moment here....) she says to me something like, "Ah, you are an organic designer".  TA DA!  YES!  She explained that while some people are "analytic designers" who do swatches, and meticulously plan an entire design before even picking up a hook to begin the project... other designers are organic designers who "grow yarn".

This resonated so true to me.  I used to say that everything (design-wise) I did evolved from a mistake.  Which was a really self-denigrating comment, don't you think?  Over the years, I stopped saying that and instead told myself the truth: I allow designs to evolve and I make decisions that help the project be better until I decide it is finished. But, I design as I go along.

Still, somehow, hearing how other designers plan out designs to the last stitch before they begin, how the projects are so planned out that they can hire others to make it for them.... that just blows my mind!  How is that possible?  It's a right brain/left brain thing.  While most successful designers, Doris says, have a good amount of both organic and analytical, it seems we have a preferred side when creating.  Of course neither style is right or wrong, but I'm thinking it's kinda like having curly vs. straight hair... whichever one you have, you'd like to have the other and maybe even try really hard to make it happen with all sorts of exercises in curling and straightening, but really, you're just fighting nature and eventually nature wins.  Your hair is just going to be what it is going to be.  GO WITH IT. I've tried to be an analytic designer, making a swatch and doing math and writing patterns with Excel before making the project.  It doesn't flow with me because after all that work, I make a different decision that takes the project in a new direction and all that time has been lost.

Doris, me, Vashti, at TNNA 2010.
So, from now on, instead of comparing apples to oranges, or in this case, organic vs. analytical, I'm going to be proud to be my organic design self, and continue to grow designs one at a time.

PS. Doris is an organic designer and I'm thrilled to be in her esteemed company. Thank you, Doris!

24 comments:

Sheryl said...

Thanks for a great post! I join you in the organic realm and am learning to embrace my random organicness!

365DaysOfCrochet said...

I'm just now designing an afghan. It's not much, but I'm finally finding my "voice" with crochet. I've written poetry, music, and stories. But I've never tried a creative hand with yarn or thread. I've been working to create something special for my bestest friend which wasn't from someone else's vision/creation and it's finally coming together. I didn't create swatches, but I tried my hand time and time again until I think I finally have it right. Does that make me organic or analytical... or maybe organically analytical or analytically organic? Leave it to me to not fall into any category :p

365DaysOfCrochet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JKW said...

I appreciate this blog entry. Even making dolls - they never look like the pattern. With crochet, I understand it so well that I 'improve' on the pattern and actually make them my own. Crochet patterns are the first patterns I can really figure out. Amazing to me, b/c it doesn't happen with anything else, even my checkbook!! Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings, Janet

Linda said...

Thanks for this really interesting post!
I'm an organic designer myself and I totally agree with you. It is like the piece I am creating is alive. And if it wants to go that way I can't force it to go different. I almost never make swatches, and a design can change several times while I am making it - I just follow what I feel is right at that moment.
Linda

TurquoizBlue said...

I've always called myself an organic designer. I see it in my head, grab my hook and start making it. It's like sculpting. I have become an "analytic" designer in order to write patterns, but it isn't my natural style.

Tracie said...

Oh, this makes me feel so much better! I'm an organic designer, too. I don't swatch, much, and typically just start and figure it out as I go. Glad to know I'm in such great company! :)

Jaybird Designs said...

Great post! Happy to be Organic too!

Amy Maxwell said...

I've never thought about in quite those terms before. I'm definitely in the organic design camp. I try to swatch sometimes but it rarely turns into a finished design.
Normally I don't like making 2 of anything but when designing it's nice: the first one is organic and the pattern is written as I go, the second is the test to make sure my pattern works :)

melbatoast68 said...

Love this! And it is so true! This curly hair, organic person has tried being straight hair and analytical and it just doesn't work! Thanks for sharing.

Kimberly said...

Totally organic here.... maybe that's why my favorite color is.....wait for it......green!!! Loved your post friend!

Linda said...

After reading these comments I have come to the conclusion that maybe there are no analytical designers at all? Or are they hiding somewhere? :)
Probably it's the law of attraction - and analytical designers are gathered somewhere else :)
But I'm sure I could learn a lot from them :)

Shelby Allaho said...

Wow, I am glad to know I am not alone! I have always felt like I was cheating by not swatching first! My original sketch is just a starting point and often nothing like the finished design! Thank you for the interesting discussion, Ellen!

Karla said...

What a wonderful, thought-provoking post. I'm definitely more on the organic side, but sometimes I swatch to explore a new stitch pattern.

Karen said...

LOL! I just posted a note yesterday saying that I fully expect a crochet committee to show up at my door demanding all my hooks and yarn.

I saw Kim Guzmans post and conversation and came here to read about other people like me. It is so great, though I still may be in a different realm. My latest "what if" is a market bag I am making for my daughter, which I wondered about halfway through how working fishing line into it would work. So far, so good...

Doris said...

Brava, El! Feels pretty good, huh? :-)

April Garwood said...

Great post Ellen! It's got me thinking. Mostly I am an organic designer, but I'm moving slightly in the direction of anylitical as I go along. I'll have to contemplate further on this.

Kristine said...

I am definately an organic designer. Nice to know I'm not alone, and it's ok to be like this :)

Vashti Braha said...

I love this way of looking at it! How it seems to go for me is I get all organic with the swatching. Sometimes the swatch wants to keep growing into something right then and there. If not, it's one extreme or the other--a dead end swatch, or it gives me 5 ideas.

If it gives me 2 or more ideas, I get all analytical, and I really enjoy how analytical I can get with one swatch.

If it's a dead end, I've learned not to rip it out because sometimes it's not really dead, just dormant. If months go by and I look at it again, it might wake up and say something--like if a season changes.

CrochetBlogger said...

Really great discussion! And it makes me feel better to know that there's a name for my style ("organic") instead of just feeling lazy and disorganized about it!

Veronica said...

I feel so validated knowing that there's a name for my style and that there's nothing wrong with how I do my crochet. I unite with my organic sisters!

Robin said...

What a validating thing to discover! I tend towards the organic also, and always felt like I 'should' write everything down first, even though I enjoy the process of discovery as I go so much more. Thanks for an interesting post. :)

Stitchy McFloss said...

First, I have to tell you I stopped reading after the sentence "had a fascinating conversation with my pal, Doris Chan the other day." I drifted off in thought of how awesome it would be to have a "pal" like Doris. OMGosh the woman is like Michelangelo with a hook! She creates such amazing designs. I am so star struck by her, that even though I read her blog, I can't seem to leave a comment. So I am in awe that you have "conversations" with Doris and yeah green all over, too.

Ellen, I love your designs. Every single afghan you have ever made, I have loved and most I have made as gifts. People love your designs, I know I do.

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing all your talent with us through your lovely patterns.

Wishing you a lovely day. :)

Ellen Gormley said...

Thank you everyone for your comments and thoughts! It appears "most" of us are organic designers. Thanks so much for chiming in and making this an interactive discussion.

Thanks for your kind comments, they keep me going!