Stuck in the middle
Technology is pushing us towards a digital world where everything happens instantly and in a pixel-perfect medium. As a designer whose work almost exclusively ends up in this computerized realm, it’s easy for me to jump straight to my trusty keyboard and mouse, open up multiple Adobe software programs and dive right into a digital brainstorm.
Fortunately, I’ve learned (for the most part) to resist this urge long enough to grab a piece of paper and a pen and let the good old-fashion connection between my brain and hand do the heavy lifting for design exploration and experimentation. I must admit, I can’t take credit for this habit, as it was drilled into me by my college professors.
Paper and pen give me the freedom to sketch out my ideas, including the awful ones, quickly and spontaneously. Sketching allows me the freedom not to get caught up in the details of the design, or the tools I am using. It’s all about the concept. If a design concept is good, it will shine through the roughness of my illustrations. On the flip side, if a visual concept doesn’t work in a 2″ by 2″ drawing, it’s not going to work magnified by hours of invested work and effort.
That is the beauty of pen and paper. This medium gives me the freedom to make mistakes, which is a vital part of the brainstorm process. Good ideas come from lots of ideas. They come from the ability to move past the safe, cliché, expected answers that always present themselves at first. The great ideas come when you’re drawing so fast that you don’t have time to judge and label them as successes or failures.
No matter how many screens my work puts in front of me, I always plan to keep a bit of paper and a pen at hand.