Day #2 minimalist and mono

Pleased that I managed to get this one together today. Even more pleased that I had time left over to put it into repeat and upload it as a pattern on Spoonflower, Fashion Formula and Redbubble. I really like this style of minimal t-shirt and I've decided I will make a few more designs of this ilk, but long-term it's not going to be my main focus. 

bugeyefly pattern design mockup
 bugeyefly surface and pattern design

Men's designs

I've started work on a series of new designs for men. Personally I am all for wearing bright colours as a man, but in the main (it's not hard to find exceptions, granted, but they are still very much that) men's fashion is significantly calmer when it comes to colour.

Rugged is a pretty natural fit for my style. Looking forward to developing some new pieces.


Update comparison and 'on the road'

Colour changes

Popping a couple of images in here which show clearly the kind of updates I've been applying. On the left, the rather dark old piece, on the right the new perkier version. Biggest change here is obviously the colour. I don't use opacity tricks very much but in this piece it seemed ideal. The motif is a translucent butterfly (tied to a psychedelic trend) which you can see once you've stared a bit. A lot of colour was lost, so I've brought it back to singing vibrancy.

enough is enough

I've balanced out the layout too and of course put it into repeat (you can't quite see the edges here due to the size of the tile and image frame.)  I also made a version with much more open ground and an additional textural motif which added some vertical movement. This was fine but I prefer the final piece here, it has a nice simple all-over rhythm to it, enriched by the transparency effects and pulsing linework. It feels like being enveloped in a butterfly swarm.


And I just remembered what I was thinking about when I made this piece: Kerouac's "the mothswarm of heaven," part of my favourite passage from that book.

alt colours and mockup

Side by side it's no contest: the punch in the new version makes it leap out at you. Also shown is a super-quick recolour and mockup job. Anyone not familiar with Photoshop will wonder about recolouring something complex like this, but there is a way of doing a useful rough version very quickly. For the purpose of testing palettes and making this post, this is pretty helpful. Liking the new palette a lot, will do a refined version later. I'll post a quick video on the technique/tool that I used too.

Trial recolour and mockup


I've been using a little of my quieter time in the past few weeks to go back and look at older work, to see if there's anything I can update and re-use (as I started to discuss in this earlier post.) One thing that came to mind is the problem of being knocked off-track, whether it's by the need to pay the bills, falling under the spell of great work by others, or whatever.

This little image here is something I made quite early in my development and it was, for a little while, available on products through my Redbubble store. I took them down because it wasn't getting traction, but you know what? I think I might give it a shave and a haircut and put it back out there.

When I first made this piece I was pretty pleased with the result. It was one of the first handful that I made using Photoshop and the first piece in which the kinds of expression I enjoyed (abstract expressionism and all that) were coming through into my surface design work in something like the right way. It felt like the clearest signpost I had then to what I would focus on developing later.

But then I moved on, in response to a brief from somewhere or other, and the fact that this piece was largely ignored by others seemed to suggest I shouldn't bother going back. Since I pulled it I've been shown all kinds of things from other people which are related in some way to this piece. A couple of weeks ago I was introduced by my other half to the latest: the work of Lillian Farag. If you know her, I think you'd agree there's a bit of common ground there. If not, check her out for your own sake! 

In spite of all the growth since then, this piece still represents a seam of things that I really want to mine but still haven't tapped properly. I'm not saying it's a wonderful piece, but I can still read the sign well enough! And I can iron out the flaws for a POD re-up.

I'm sorry to say that I wound up so convinced that this piece was a failed experiment that I threw it out. I mean I actually deleted all the files from my main storage to make room for other things! Took me a couple of hours yesterday to find it in one of my various backups. 

So here's a few things I've learned from all this:

1. Don't chuck stuff away, ever. It was good luck that I still had the piece, not planning. My backup schemes these days are rigorous, but they weren't so tight back then. You never know what might turn out to be useful, so don't delete!

2. Back everything up. Yeah,  I know you know!

3. Don't let the currents of present need wash away the bigger picture. I've been surprised at how much of what I was doing back then is still relevant now and I've found that reviewing this stuff has helped me get mentally back on track in my personal work. 

4. Don't rely too much on third party judgments. I let the court of Instagram and the silence of the masses get to me and that was a mistake. Somehow we have to learn to be reliable judges for ourselves (forgive the plug, but my other half has some great advice on that!) while at the same time listening attentively to the views of those we trust. Views from other people are absolutely invaluable, but we  have to know how to use them. Also, there can be many reasons why this or that piece isn't getting attention on POD sites. It's a barometer of something, but what that something is is often not very obvious, so don't assume the worst.

I'm fortunate to be working with a studio that allows me a very broad range of personal expression. But rediscovering more of my early interests has shown me that I've gradually dropped and forgotten some things that I would like to bring back into focus.

I had a pretty good idea of what I liked when I came to surface design, which I suppose is not true of everyone. But there's a sort of golden period early on when you're not so worried about the results and are keen to try to reach some vision of what you want without the pressures of delivery or need or comparison to pull you around. Perhaps it'll reveal nothing for you, but as an exercise I can now recommend revisiting your work from those times in order to remind yourself of what got you motivated in the first place.