Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Birch Forest

It's funny how sometimes the craft/design blog world can be simultaneously inspiring and petrifying.

Sometimes I look around and it feels like there's so many great ideas flying around out there and it's all too much. Not that long ago it seemed like there was a clear path and it was really obvious what would make a great design. Now it feels like a lot of those things have been "done", and there's a feeling (for me at least) of "where to next?".


Against my own advice I've also been putting more pressure on myself to come up with "the best design ever". I have all these ideas on the edge of my brain that I just can't seem to make come out right.
I'm also trying to think of designs that can challenge the mediums and processes I have on hand. For example, I'd love to come up with a 2 colour screen print design where both colours can be printed off the same screen. I'd also love to be able to do an "inverse" print - where the design is made up of solid inked areas with gaps that form the design, rather than the other way around. This can be technically difficult though - because the printer prints the design in panels, you can get a double inked area where the panels overlap slightly.

Anyway that all said, below is a design that came to me this morning. It can work as as inverse print if the edges of the repeat go through the middle of a tree. I can just imagine a cushion made out of this :)



Only problem though is that it reminds me a lot of some other designs I've seen out there recently. Like Bird in the Hand's tree screen print or (scarily close to home) Auntie Cookie's home sweet home fabric. Am I being crazy? Tell me, honestly....

33 comments:

At Home with kim vallee said...

Your pattern catches my eyes the minute I saw it. I like the yellow tone and the way you drew the trees. I prefer your pattern to Home Sweet Home because it makes me feel more alive. And I am not to keen on tree screen print.

About your interrogation: There are so many designers around the world that it is almost impossible to create something completely new.

Shannon said...

ooh this one is cool! very 'lara' colour!! and not at all like mine...and someone already prefers it to mine anyway (I shall be crying myself to sleep over that!!)

I see cushions, lamps...and a nice longways printrun....I was at the printers thismorning and Nadia showed me a cool trade fair we should go to. I think my sister should be able to score us tickets...

metremade said...

it's funny, i know a lot of designers, myself included, who are keen to branch out (pun intended) from trees and birds which are everywhere at the moment. but where to from here? trees and birds boast the ability to be both iconic and organic... they can be represented realistically or pushed to their geometric limits - the perfect combination of designing within/around limits! and they're still popular with the masses.
birds & trees will always be a favourite combo, just like floral patterns in fabric (how many millions of flower patterns have been created over the centuries!?). i think just keep doing what feels right at the time, fashionable or not, and keep pushing those darned screenprinting boundaries :)

Sheridan said...

I am deliberately commenting before looking at the links to the other designs because I can tell you straight off the bat that I would buy this. I love the design, and I love the colour.

bluemountainsmary said...

I have had to delurk because I like this very much. At first I saw yellow trees with birds in them and then I saw white birches with the trees! I think this clever visual trick differentiates it from the others you mention - would be fantastic in crimson and brilliant blue - in fact in any number of colours - really lovely

Heather Moore said...

That's a beautiful design! I used to also over-think things, afraid of doing something too reminiscent of others' work, until my husband convinced me that I have good instincts and that I need to trust my ideas. Once you do that, of course your own voice shines through. I think you have brilliant instincts too, and have more than adequately demonstrated that you can trust yourself. Go for it, Lara!

Amber said...

I think yours is so beautiful and not at all related to the others...it is much more serene and not as busy - I like it alot!! The colors are so nice as well!

Jessicah said...

I like how the yellow background makes me think the birds in the trees are canaries! They are similar but different. I think there is always room for slightly different takes, as they convey different feelings and emotions. Maybe this will be the fabric that finally pushes me to actually purchase some of your fabric, not just drool over it! Keep up the amazing work :)

cristina said...

i know what you mean about the "waves" of creativity...and their similarities. i guess thats part of the creative energy we all contribute to this community, right?
first i want to say that when i first saw the print in bloglines, my first thought was "where did she find that!! i need to email her and ask, right away". so i'm pleasantly impressed (amazed, really) that you came up with it. no, it's not like bird-in-the-hands print. yours is sharper, more refined. it's sorta kinda like the aunt cookie print...but not enough to really abandon the pattern. the yellow...simplicity...inverse coloring...scandinavian feel are all things that makes yours unique + stand out.
so of course, you know my next question, right? when is it going to be for sale?

Jesse said...

I don't think your design looks at all like the 2 you mentioned - all they have in common is the subject matter. There are a lot of tree trunk (and in particular birch tree trunk) designs out there, as well as birds, and one-colour screenprinting seems to be the most popular medium. So some similarity seems inevitable; but it's a similarity of subject matter and medium.

If you have similar tastes and find inspiration in similar places, you'll probably have a bit of overlap with other designers. And that can be a good thing, as your unique take on something adds to the overall design vocabulary.

It would be wrong to fight your inclinations just to avoid echoes of other work. I think we'd all have to live in a vacuum to avoid being influenced.

I spent a lot of time freaking out and reworking ideas because every time I saw a friend's work she seemed to be on the same track. Then I saw her scrapbooks, and they were eerily like mine. So I've realised that we're working on the same stuff. It still feels uncomfortable, but it hurts a lot more to cut off ideas that feel right just because they might be similar to someone else's. Or to twist them in unnatural ways to make them superficially different.

That said, sometimes you just have to finish a design you're not sure of, to get it out of your head so you can move on.

Your design is lovely, by the way!

kwoozy said...

heheh.. well I am not a designer, but I was just feeling this in my day job. And my current crafting too. A prof told me this before about his research work: It is not for us to decide whether something is the same or not - that's for your peers. A slight slant may yet bring a new light to the same problem. I am sure that applies to design too.

You do very good work and I don't think it's the same at all! Don't worry about it :)

paolability said...

I like your tree pattern a lot. Neither of the other two you mention are inverse patterns and so I don't consider yours derivative.

I sympathise with the quest to "make the best ever" but I am pleased that your high demands of yourself doesn't stop you from creating at all.

When I make jewellery, most are one-offs as I get so bored making more of something I already made. As a result, I get better a lot quicker than if I was making in bulk.

Similarly, as you continue to design, your skill will improve and (as a lot of film directors say), their favourite will be the last thing they made.

Your trees reminded me of a James C. Christensen painting: Cleverly Disguised in a Doolittle Landscape. I think it's genius but a) imagine how long it must have taken to do and b) do you think he was completely satisfied with it?

I think that making things that are wonderful, cheerful and popular is more than good enough; 'best' is a unhappy diversion as you'll have no way of knowing when you've reached it. And, if you could, what would you do next?


Paola

Jason said...

This pattern looks great! Would make a beautiful Album cover. The negative space has a secretive feeling too it - what's around those trees??? - just like an Album or Journal, which also have that secretive feeling if they're personal diaries.

So many designs are similar to other designs, that you almost can't get away with creating something totallly original, especially if you're using organic elements. Birch trees have been around for centuries offering inspiration to artists and designers. I think your pattern is beautiful and has a "Lara" feel to it which is all your own.

We're big fans!

kat said...

I think this is absolutely beautiful. And though the elements... trees, branches, birds are everywhere, the way you put it together makes it different and unique. I love it + would buy this!

Andi said...

I love this! Would definitely buy it. Don't worry about it being similar - those subjects are popular right now, and people are still eating it up! Gorgeous!

Molly Irwin said...

Hi. This is my first post to your blog and I want to say thank you so much for sharing your thoughts behind the amazing designs you create.

I understand your concern/query about the similarities and the desire to provide something fresh, but let me assure you, your designs and approach to thinking are uniquely your own. Sure, we can all be influenced at times by all the visual stimuli out there, but when it comes down to it, only YOU can interpret the imagery in your own way.

I LOVE this new birch design and also really like the other tree/bird prints you mentioned. (have them marked as favorites on flickr as a matter of fact) But this birch print is so special and in no way a copy-cat approach. It reminds me of skiing through the birch in southern Vermont on a sunny morning. There is room for this new, original work of your own.

Stay the course and let your mind wander!

A fan - Molly

I am Jen said...

I believe it's hard not to be influenced by peers work. There are always some touches of what we like showing up in our works. I love your trees and the yellow color. I like yours and auntie cookies for different reasons.

suki said...

oh I have the excat feeling all the time!! sometimes it seems to me that people are too good out there and why do I need to work so bloody hard? But one thing I am sure is, if i don't do it, i will regret for the rest of my life, so, just keep on going!

anyway, i think birds and tress are a little bit overloaded now, i think we should move on to the next pattern!

nicole lecht said...

hey girl, your doing fine and always remember not to sweat what other people are doing, i think all of us have that same constant worry but unfortunately it will probubly never go away, so instead of using it AS A worry, use it as a motivator to dig deeper...although you might not have to go deeper, it could be right on the surface! I often have to take a step back and tell myself to only think about what I want to do and good things usually come out of it!

KiWi said...

there's a similarity of theme but the styles are very different. Not sucking up, but I prefer your design to BITH's trees.

Anna said...

Hi Lara,

just thinking of how you could do a two colour print with 1 screen. Perhaps you can give 2 sets of regisration marks for the printers to line up. the first could be for colour A, the second for coulour B, which could be spaced some distance apart, so that there is a shadow/overlapping effect. try it out on illustrator first to see what you think.
I think it is very easy for a common theme to pop up in design, given that alot of designers like sharing their ideas. i think that your print would look great on a skirt

Anonymous said...

I think the design is unique, it's gorgeous. You can never have too many designs like this!

Circular Accessories said...

I just love all of your patterns. Funny you should mention that you felt your birch forest design was similar to some other designs out there; I have numerous doodles of a birch tree design that I want to make. I guess it is true that it has all been done before, but you put your own twist/spin on it and just make it your own. Keep your fabulous patterns coming! Much love, Alison

Tali said...

there ain't no copyright on birds and trees ;)
and your design is fab.

i think nicole speaks words of wisdom.

marlene said...

This is however VERY original - sooo beautiful with lots of atmosphere.(though a bit marimekko like) You really have an eye for creating wonderfull and eyecatching designs. You should go BIG scale fabric printing - I would love to see your fabric all over the world.
Greetings from Denmark

Megan said...

I feel like that every day. Ugh. That's the plight of designers I guess. I'm always thinking "where can it go from here!?" and "Hasn't this been done before?" It can be so stressful. As for the design; LOVELY! I love the color. I thought it would make a great print to frame or great wrapping paper. Fabric is great too!

Becky O said...

I think all have made the same point for me...
Just do it then own it. You have wonderful work.

~Becky

Clare said...

I really love this print, and the colour. The inverse idea is cool. I think it is really different to the ones you linked and I would buy it for sure. Beautiful!

Hollabee said...

Lara, I love your design...The colour is perfect...would love to make lamp shades of it..those big ones..

lindsey clare said...

ok i'll be honest and say that i did think of Lisa Congdon's work when i saw your pattern. having said that, i don't see it as derivative at all, just similar. and there's certainly nothing wrong with similar.
i think there are lots of wise words above mine!
at the end of the day, as long as you're true to yourself, you'll be fine. (awww)

i find the abundance of work out there quite overwhelming. i adore reading crafty blogs but it's actually not very good for me... i find that i create less because i am too busy admiring other people's work! i often think i should become a curator or retailer instead of a creator!

Lynn said...

Heys Lara,
Just do what you love best as there will always be overlaps in design work or any other work for that matter.
For instance, PANTONE needn't bother coming up with any shades of red for this fall's selection as there are heaps of them already.
As long as the work you have is yours, it will emanate your design sense or touch.
(I understand where you're coming from, as I am a designer too)

p/s - I enjoy your prints. Simple yet arresting to the eyes.
Cheers, Lynn

Joy said...

It's a similiar pattern, but I like yours better. It's far more linear and less chaotic than that other pattern.

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