Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Help! I can't find my Signature Style!

It’s hard to believe it’s nearly the end of the first module of the ‘Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design' course!

The five weeks have flown by and soon we'll have a five-week break in which to catch up with things we didn’t have time for, before we start the second module in November.

This week has been all about making new designs and their coordinating patterns and learning how to present them (as above), all with a view to identifying our 'Signature Style' - that 'certain something' that makes our work recognisable as ours and ours alone.

And this is where I feel stuck, in fact very stuck indeed!

I should, by now, be designing my business stationery, all based around my unique Signature Style, but I’m not even beginning to think about doing that while I feel so unclear about how to define my style.

I've had the same problem with my greeting cards, designing in various different styles for different occasions. But one thing I can say is that looking at a lot of patterns in the course of this work, both from other students and from elsewhere on the web, I am a lot more clear than I was about the kind of style that I don’t identify with! Maybe it’s my age, which means that I remember them first time around and didn’t much like them, but I’m not at all enthusiastic about a lot of the ‘Retro’ style that is currently so popular. It simply ‘isn’t me’.

To me a lot of ‘50s patterns seem drab in their colouring and I find the ‘70s geometric shapes quite overpowering. And I’m wondering why ‘Retro’ doesn’t appear to include Laura Ashley’s wonderful late ‘60s/,70s prints - which I really do like and am probably influenced by!.

Found this patchwork of Laura Ashley's '70s  prints on a blog -

In fact, I’m surprised that, so far, there has been no mention of Laura Ashley on the course. She and William Morris are surely two British ‘giants’ when it comes to ‘pattern’ and I would have thought they would have been worth a mention!

Looking at my home decor, as was suggested as a pointer towards finding our 'signature style', there are plenty of patterns on wallpapers, on fabrics and on china and ornaments that are reminiscent of William Morris and Laura Ashley, even if they weren’t actually designed by them.

So maybe that’s a clue to finding my style.

The design exercises we were given on the course were all demonstrated by Rachael Taylor, the tutor, using a black pen. But, knowing how easy it is to pick up someone else’s style if you use the same medium, I decided early on to carry out the exercises in collage or to use my old watercolour designs. So at least I've avoided that pitfall in the search for 'my style'!

Here's another common thread in my patterns - maybe another clue? - flowers seem to feature in my home decorations as well as in most of the patterns I create. But my collage ones are in a very different style from the watercolours. So that isn't a lot of help!

But I noticed that the patterns on my ‘Presentation Boards’ have some colours in common – the warm, bright orang-y reds, contrasting with the blues and greens.

Another clue, maybe, in the hunt for my elusive 'Signature Style'?

But then I muddied the waters by doing this one!

I quite like it – though I probably wouldn’t want to live with it as part of my decorating scheme!
Wrapping paper, perhaps?

Maybe it’s too soon to know which way my designing will go.

Maybe a clear trend will emerge as I design more and more patterns. But I think seeing someone else’s ‘Signature Style’ may be easier than identifying one’s own.  

So if you can think of any words that seem to you to describe my ‘style’, it would be a big help if you would leave them in the comments - thank you!


Sue Grilli said...

Judy, you are doing such a great job in the class. I got sort of sideways with the whole photoshop piece but I just found someone who can teach me on the side. So I am hoping to catch up and perhaps continue onto the next class.
Meanwhile, your designs are looking fabulous. I understand how hard it is to find your style. I think it is harder for us to see our own than others to see it. I absolutely love Laura Ashely and you're right we need to bring that back, maybe in a bit more modern look. I say go for it. I think you have done a great job pulling the designs together and my favorite is the Nasturtiums. Although the last one with the blue circles are stripes was very bold and stood out.
What a great job!!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Sue - thank you so much for all your encouragement! Photoshop is indeed a challenge and I'm sometimes using my old designs, such as the Nasturtiums, so that I have more time to spend on learning the Photoshop processes. Good luck with your lessons. I'm sure that will make things a whole lot easier and I look forward to seeing more of your work in the next module!

Carole Barkett said...

I remember Laura Ashley and how much I loved her patterns. I can't imagine trying to define style. Could you get feedback from classmates? Has she given you a list of styles to choose from? Whenever I do a pattern for Zazzle I never know what to call it or where to put it.
I love what you are doing and your color combinations. Maybe as you said the more you do you will eventually evolve into an area you love most.

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Carole - I'm glad to find there are others, like you, who still appreciate Laura Ashley :)

I think you are right - I need to do more designs and then I might see what they have in common.

Ilaria Ruggeri said...

Hi Judy, what a big question! Defining your own style is the most difficult part. Actually I'm not even sure it's a completely good thing to adopt a singular style. I think maybe is useful to have different elements (colors, subjects, forms, mediums) which are the core. And then design them in different ways.
I don't know... I've not been designing much in these last weeks and I have lots of old works to do!
I won't attend next module because I feel I need much more time to work on this subjects.
Anyway, you're doing a really great job!

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Ilaria - thank you for visiting my blog. Good to see you here!

I've struggled with this question with my greeting cards, where I have even more different styles! So I was pleased when I saw that this course would help me identify my signature style. But I'm not really any nearer to finding it now than I was at the beginning!

Sorry to hear you won't be attending the next module but I hope to see your work posted to the flickr pool so we can keep in touch that way :)

Carol Allen Anfinsen said...

Judy, you are so fortunate to have taken a design course.I feel that is a weakness of mine.

You hit the nail on the head when you said "maybe it's easier to recognize other people's style than your own."

People always recognize my style, but I wasn't aware I really had one. I do notice that my brush strokes have a certain style. I wish I could get more comments on my blog! Nice!

Anonymous said...

Hi Judy, I know how you are feeling - I feel confused too - the break has had me trying a few other things and that has made me really uncertain what to commit to now. Here's hoping i will simply evolve on its own? Eeek!! Good luck! Brenda , gobennygo

Judy Adamson said...

Hi Brenda - thank you for your comments. I think I'm beginning to get an inkling of what my style maybe, mostly by deciding what it isn't! Collecting things I like on Pinterest boards has helped and I hope you'll soon find a way that de-confuses you too! I'm sure you will, even if it takes a while.