Sunday, 23 January 2011

Keep Calm and Keep an Art Journal

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Inspired by Kendra's beautiful blog, Days in Mayfair and Gertie's blog, I thought I'd start making some attempt at proper blogging myself. Wish me luck and please try to stay awake. :D

I'm starting a BA in Fashion Design in September and excitedly ripped open my latest letter from Uni which included (apart from very nice stationery), the usual blah, a extremely lengthy and expensive looking equipment and book list, AND a summer project: designing a wardrobe for a professional surfer going to Puerto Rico for advertising and competition work. This should be interesting in the sense that this project is so completely not my bag it might as well be "design a camel". Actually, that sounds fun but unfortunately I'm stuck with surfer girl. I'm madly researching "what to wear in Puerto Rico", wetsuits, rashguards and other strange sounding lycra x polyester x neoprene mix things. Apparently being out of your comfort zone really can be a good thing.

Sooo...I thought I'd post about my journals because they're a really core part of my studies and it's part of my not-so-secret plan for everyone to keep a journal. :D

When I did a foundation diploma in Art and Design, the tutors encouraged having a contextual journal and a reflective journal. While at first, I thought it was all a bit of a drag, I recognise what useful tools they can be.

Here are my current journals. The pink one is for reflections,
the blue one is for research notes on the surfing project
and the black book is for contextual references.


The reflective journal is useful for keeping notes on what you're doing, how you feel you're progressing...all that blah. Tutors like them as it shows them your thought processes and proves to them that you can evaluate your own work and make decisions. Particularly in conceptual contemporary art, it's very useful to record the whole timeline from the spark of an idea, to the finished piece and how and why it changed in-between. Personally, I've found that journals are useful in getting a better sense of, and broaden, your personal aesthetic and in turn, to gain confidence in it. After a period of rebelling against journaling, I really don't know how I'd live without them now. Everyone should have one. I think I struggled with it at first because I was trying to write what I thought my tutors would like to read. It was only when I started treating it more like a regular diary just for me - to act as a soundboard and record my projects and studies, that I started to see and feel the benefit of having it. I also stick in letters from uni, loose sketches and notes, photos I've taken, objects which remind me of things - receipts, tickets, shells, bits of fabric or knitting, everything! I have a real problem throwing things away.

A page from my conceptual journal

Contextual journal (posh teacher speak for scrapbook) - textures, colours, anything you find inspirational. I also stick in photos and brochures from exhibitions and write a few lines about what I thought of it. Some of my friends had dual contextual and reflective journals but I prefer to have separate books otherwise it gets messy. Both books do, inevitably crossover.

This is probably one of my favourite books in the world. I have about 3 of these A4 sized books filled and every time I look through them I can't help but be inspired, even when I'm really in a funk.

Photographer, Tim Walker's scrapbooks are wonderful if you're interested in starting your own. I'll make a post about him next time.

I love taking scissors to old mags and making a mess!

Lastly, my Surf Project book. I think if you have a particular project which calls for lots of research, it's a good idea to have a separate book to keep everything together. At the moment I'm chucking in any research I've done and also trying to compile some lookbook images to get a better idea of what I'd like to do and working through each aspect of her trip and her planned activities to try and design a capsule wardrobe in easy care fabrics.

The surfing aspect is really challenging, I mean, surfwear is a hugely innovative, complicated, high-tech area of design which I have no idea about. I constantly have to remind myself of the climate and the terrain of Puerto Rico. It's not going to be easy but it's fun!

Special Project "Surf" book

I have a day off from work tomorrow so I'm going on a little study trip to St Ives, Cornwall to visit some of the surf shops and pick some surfer's brains. Hopefully, I might be able to snag some wetsuit  fabric swatches or something. Will report back!


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