Shalom's Cottage Home Blog
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Ever been flipping through a magazine or just minding your own business somewhere and have one of those “mind bursts” where an awesome idea pops up and you just have to jot it down before you forget? That happens to me all the time and for years, I had notes in dozens of magazines scattered all over the house and drawings in various notebooks that might have or might not have been the main one in my purse at the time. And it seemed that every time I actually had some time and wanted to sit down at my craft desk to work on making a specific idea into real artwork, I could never find the original sketch or picture. It wasn't a big deal (just more of an annoyance) until I decided to go into business and I realized I needed a better plan for collecting and organizing my thoughts, since they would most likely turn into money-making artwork some day. I started to think of my ideas as valuable supplies that couldn't afford to be wasted, and in the few years I've been selling my artwork, I've developed a plan that (with a little tweaking from time to time) seems to be working.
• I have an “Idea” Binder. This is quite a behemouth of a binder, but it is really quite useful. I have divided it into several “categories” and in each of those I put page-protected sheets of blank paper with pictures I've cut out of magazines that fit the category. These pictures are not arranged any certain way and they tend to be cut out at odd angles and secured with 1 or 2 pieces of scotch tape (my pages wouldn't win any graphic design layout awards), but now whenever I get in a mood to create a certain type of artwork, I have only to flip to the category I want and browse through the pictures I've personally selected for instant inspiration. I collect these pictures, whether I have a specific idea in mind at the time or not, because if they stand out to me at all, I never know when I might need them at a later time and I don't want to have to go searching for “that one photo I remember from a magazine (not even sure which one) about 3 months ago.” I might have even tossed the magazine away by that time – Ouch!
• When do I have time to collect all these picures you are asking? There really is no set schedule, but I do try to have a pen or colored marker handy when I'm flipping through a new mag, so I can put a star by the pics I really like. Then, if I know the whole magazine is a keeper, I will write “KEEP” in big, bold letters on the cover, to remind me not to toss it when I do house cleaning. If I do decided to get rid of some piles of paper, I will usually briefly flip through the mags first and either cut out the highlighted pics first or just stack them on my desk to be dissected later. If I have time to cut, but not sort, I will tuck the new pics into the pocket of my binder and the next time I crack it open looking for ideas, I will take a few minutes to add the new pics into the appropriate categories.
• I carry a small sketchbook or notebook with me at all times. I work evenings at a hotel front desk and I keep my sketch book in my lunch tote so it is always handy if I have the time to flesh out a new idea while I'm at work. I usually have 1 or 2 newer magazines in there too for some visual backup. If I'm just out and about with my purse as company, I at least have a small notebook handy, so I don't miss out on any potential “mind bursts”. These notebooks frequently contain my grocery and to-do lists as well, but they are there when I need them. To keep all my personal sketches organized I have also added another section to the back of my Idea Binder, where I put all notes and drawings that didn't originate in my main sketchbook. Once it's time for a new sketchbook, I will usually tear out my “favorites” and add them to the binder as well. I should also add that I always sign and date my sketches, for future reference (I figure this might also come in handy if I ever have to deal with copyright issues).
I have found that anything I can do to keep my most important assets (my ideas) in one place, organized and easily-accessible saves huge amounts of time and lets me get right down to the business of creating – which is hard enough to find time to do as it is. Just thought I'd pass the word along.