I always have a notebook with me – usually more than one. They are full of lists and notes and doodles and sketches. Blank pages are terrifying and paralyzing and my notebooks are a safety net. It is essential to my forward motion to record ideas as they come to me, to sketch-out possibilities, and to doodle, sometimes with no direction or intention, just playing with lines and marks and shapes and symbols. Sometimes the notes are specific to a project I’m starting but often one thing leads to another and while I’m trying to work one idea out that effort produces all sorts of new unrelated thoughts, glimmers of ideas, all recorded and saved. My notes and sketches are made for my eyes only, spontaneous with no pressure to be fancy or tidy or to impress, just beginnings, but I chose a couple pages to share anyway.
I also find huge value in writing about what I’m going to make – it develops my ideas in ways that sketching doesn’t. I noticed on occasions when I had to write a proposal for a project, describe my ideas to somebody else, convince somebody else an idea had merit, that details and richness would come from that exercise so I’ve made it a habit to spend time describing my ideas and plans to myself in writing.
I’ve been keeping notebooks for years and I have volumes to refer to – they are a mess but that seems to work for me too – I peruse them when I need a place to start, the tiniest thing, scribbled years ago and forgotten can get my wheels turning. They have saved me again and again, I never really feel like I’m starting from zero. I’m working on some holiday ornament designs right now – they will either be licensed and produced by someone else for 2016 or I’ll release them myself as patterns this year. I’ve got a ton of saved ideas. I can’t show you my current thoughts but the castle sketch below is from a few years ago – a rough idea that eventually became an ornament set for Crate and Barrel.