The Need for Inspiration
My time as a foreign designer.
Inspiration is the source of many different kinds of creative pursuit. It
is the spark that ignites the fuel of skill and talent. Despite its importance, it is
often an intangible thing. Similarly what may be inspiring to a certain person,
at a certain time, may not be as equally stimulating to someone else in a different environment. For this Honors Project, I decided to examine my personal
sources of inspiration as I worked and traveled in Europe.
I traveled to Europe in order to complete an internship as per the requirements of The University of Cincinnati’s Industrial Design program. It was
my fourth such experience, but the first with a European firm. In addition to
my daily professional work, I took advantage of my surroundings to complete
some personal work. The following is a concise summary of what inspired me
to create during the three months that I lived and traveled in Europe.
The Making of Inspiration
Three parts that form the whole.
For the duration of this experience, I believe the following three things
were the most useful in my search for inspiration: sources of information,
changing geography, and time. I will elaborate on these further.
Looking out and in.
My main purpose in Europe was to perform at work. My primary goals
were to support my employer and improve my design skills in a professional
environment. As such I could always count on my work environment to
engage and stimulate my thinking. After work and on weekends, the time
was my own to pursue my own information and make my own conclusions.
Learning new things at work allowed me to better question the design
choices in my personal work. As such I deemed these two separate
environments important for the stimulation of inspiration.
Belgian Comic Strip Center; Brussels, BE
Drawing upon wide and varied influences.
Europe is a particularly fantastic place for travel because it offers
subtly different experiences in relative close proximity. The countries that
make up the continent vary in architecture, culture, and general impression.
Travel reveals these minute differences amongst the similar backdrop, which
enhances their distinctness. This is a sampling of the variety that can be
found, sourced from the four countries I traveled between.
A street in Bruges, BE
Allowing for experience to accumulate and distill.
The final ingredient necessary for the enticement of inspiration is
time. I don’t believe I’m alone in knowing the value of sitting on an idea and
letting all that you know work its magic toward resolving an outcome. Often,
all that is left to do is allow time for the mind to put the pieces together in the
background. In Europe, time was often plentiful on the trains and parks of the
Train arrival; Antwerp Central Station
Collected works from time spent abroad.
This document and the photos contained within are as much the
output from this experience as the works detailed further. As design is
my passion as well as my profession, nearly everything I do has a design
application. As such, this experience was a chance to improve not just my
design skills, but my photography as well. Within the enclosed works, you’ll
find instances of story-telling, iterative design, and sketching, all skills that
stand alone while enhancing my skills as a designer.
Story Book Concept
Story and illustration.
This project is the product of my long-standing desire to simply tell a
children’s story. The exercise, while appearing simple at first, demonstrates
design thinking in the creation of the story outline, iteration of character
design, and the emotion of the actual story telling. This story concept also
features simple line drawings in black and white allowing the child to color
their own story book as they see fit. Only the main characters are colored to
excite the imagination.
Initial inspiration and my surroundings.
Views of the city of Antwerp formed my initial impressions of Europe.
The setting was fascinating enough to always hold my interest no matter
where I explored.
Setting the scene.
The city would become the setting for the story. Here the buildings
that form the backdrop for an early page are enhanced with color. This style
choice was ultimately only reserved for the main characters.
pen on paper; Photoshop
Story outline and page mock-ups.
Any story starts with an outline. Here the number and content
of pages is mapped out to ensure the story is easily understood, while
maintaining a strong visual dynamic.
Old and new sources of visual style.
Everywhere I went, I was struck by the contrast of old and new. That
was most evident in the variety of graffiti all around Europe, combined with
the stained-glass art of ancient churches.
Exploring character visual style.
The characters were drawn until they felt right. Ultimately, to fit the
mood of the story, the animals became full bodied, and nearly realistic, with
human expressions and movements.
People watching: dress & pose.
The streets of Europe, were full of interesting, and interesting looking,
individuals. From stylish fashion to traditional dress, there was no shortage of
inspiration to be gleaned from Europe’s residents.
Exploring character motion.
The characters in the story are very active. To ensure the poses corresponded
with the actions, extensive iteration was done to ensure the masses of the
animals moved as close to reality. Here, the motion of the cat is explored and
finessed as he tugs on the tail of a dog.
marker; pen & Photoshop
Old world luxury and intricate detail.
Rich details and extravagant use of material is a quality in the art of
the aristocracy. These works can be found in museums all over Europe.
These sketches were done in preparation for presentation drawings
for a designer of a particular high-end watch.
graphite on paper
Forms in glass and steel.
To contrast the elaborate details of old architecture. Modern designs
favor the straight line and high-tech materials.
Upcoming portfolio projects.
These are the beginnings of future portfolio projects. Examinations of
traditional forms on modern appliances. Work begun while in Europe.
graphite, pen on paper
A brief overview of work for my employer.
The main focus of this presentation and client NDAs prevent me from
showing all but the most brief look at what I did in the office. Nonetheless
it’s noteworthy as a product of the same environment responsible for the
graphite, pen on paper; Photoshop
The mechanics of design work.
Before my camera, and before my preference for pens, the ultimate
necessity for encouraging inspiration is my notebook. The one pictured fits
comfortably into a jacket pocket, allowing me to take it anywhere. Shown
here is one of the first exploration of scenes for the story, and the very first
sketches for the tea kettle.
Last remarks and contact information.
This is by no means an exhaustive study on inspiration, instead this is
meant to resemble a diary entry that reflects on my time in Europe. I can be
contacted for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More photos can be viewed at my personal blog: khramovr.tumblr.com
The full story book can be found at: http://db.tt/7DDwiaCj
All photos, text, and illustrations copyright Victor Khramov 2013.