Where's The Big Idea?

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. :slight_smile:

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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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

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.

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. :slight_smile:

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.

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

Turtles and bunnies seem to be a sure thing.

and penguins.

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. :smiley:

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.

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?

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.

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.