I think my basic drawing is not too bad, but what can I do to work on my design skills?
Anders Merson, US
Answer Tony replies
I recently read an anecdote about a pottery group that may or may not be true, but I think the message is. A pottery teacher split her students into two groups. One half would spend the entire semester designing their perfect pot, the other half would be graded on the number of finished pots they produced. Once the final lesson was over, a competition was held to choose the best results. Half the students turned in their extensively researched pot designs, while the other half chose their favourite from the many they had made over the semester. After voting was over, it turned out that most of the pieces chosen were from the side that had made lots of pots.
The message is that experience trumps research when you’re learning a new skill. Assuming that’s true, I think a good strategy for honing your designer’s eye is to make lots of compositions: nothing too complicated, just something where you can experiment with two-dimensional shapes and explore what you like.
You may not know who Patrick Nagel is, but he painted the album cover for Rio by 80s-supergroup Duran Duran. I think that his style of flat colours, clean lines and simple shapes makes for a fun kind of student exercise. That, and it gives me a reason to draw the Nagel-style image of British TV celebrity Sue Perkins that this world so desperately needs. Fair warning, a Google search for Nagel’s art may get a little saucy.
Below is a drawing where I’m using fewer elements. I suggest at least trying a few where your goal is to use as few shapes as possible.
Don’t stress about it, just have fun and create something you like. It may sound crazy, but the more fun you have,
the more you’ll learn.