Saturday, May 2, 2009

DIY Graphic Art


When you think about creating your own artwork at home, do you find yourself stuck sketching the same flowers, trees, ponys, or even the occasional Garfield that you did when you were a 4th grader doodling in class? It's not your fault. Most people have a hard time thinking outside of the "literal" sense when trying to be artistic. We are programmed pretty early on to see things in easily distinguishable forms - hence our rudimentary doodles.

When I was in design school, we worked on a very easy project that helped us learn how to appreciate shapes and iconic symbols in a more abstract way. The result is interesting graphic patterns that I think would be fabulous either framed on your wall or even used as patterns for custom stationary and invitation suites.

Here we go:

1. Pick a basic symbol or shape. I'm using a Shamrock as a nod to my husband's Irish heritage, but things like a fleur de lis, a silhouette, or even a bold font letter would work great.
2. Insert this image into a Microsoft Powerpoint Presentation sized at 15"x15".

3. Draw a 3"x3" box outlined in Red with No Fill Color. Move this box over the basic shape (shamrock) to locate a place within the shape that you think has an interesting form. You may want to blow up the size of your original shape so that you can focus on small section of the overall picture.

4. Now crop out all of the area outside of the red box, so that you are left with a 3"x3" section of the overall picture. Delete the red-outlined box.

5. Now copy the 3"x3" section and paste anywhere onto the presentation.

6. Using the green "rotation stem," rotate the copied image either 90, 180, 0r 270 degrees around.

7. You will then make copies of both 3"x3" sections and arrange in repeating patterns in whichever way looks interesting to you until you fill the entire presentaton.

You really can't go wrong as long as you keep the pattern consistent. If you don't like what you have, try rotating the shape another 90 degrees and starting over. And remember that you are not trying to recreate the original with the small part...this is totally abstract.

To give you an idea of what to expect, here are a couple of examples of what I did with the shamrock.
This was the 3"x3" section that I chose.

First Shamrock-Inspired Pattern

Second Shamrock-Inspired Pattern

Now all you have to do is come up with your intellectual description for your handiwork. Mine will go something like this: "I was inspired by the form of the traditional iconography of Ireland and wanted to explore the graphic elements in a bold new way." Doesn't that sound a lot better than, "my husband's Irish so we like shamrocks"?

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