Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Print Inspiration & Research Process

I thought I would go ahead and share with you my print research and inspiration process! Things you've got to know about me are that I am a researcher. I live for research - well print and color research that is! It fuels me and inspires me and I love to review and collect information.

I work in the fashion industry, and for about six years my job entailed researching print and color trends, and then creating prints for our line based off of those trends. My responsibilities involved predicting trends for our product lines 8+ months out, creating color palettes for our buying team to choose from, designing color boards and print trend reports based on my findings, and then I would present this information as well as supporting prints, to our team and buying team. Ok, that's the backstory of where my obsessive researching all started! : )

With that said, I looooove books and magazines! Jake and I frequent Barnes & Noble, and with chai in hand, I sift through the new magazines that come out each month. Sometimes a few come home with me, if there is enough amazing print or color inspiration inside them!

I subscribe to a bunch of fashion magazines: Vogue, Bazaar, InStyle, Lucky, Teen Vogue, etc. and always pick up Boho mag from the newsstand as soon as it comes out. Other magazines I frequent on my trips to Barnes & Noble that usually come home with me are: Marie Claire Idees, Ideal Home, Living Etc, Do It Yourself by Better Homes and Gardens, Sew Hip, Computer Arts, Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings. There's a TON more magazines that catch my eye that I pick up and sift through too, but these are the ones that are always in my arm, heading to the table to peruse.

Years ago, I found myself saving whole magazines when there was juicy print inspiration inside. I would tag the pages, and then never go back to them because the following month's magazine would be out and I would be on to something new. Of course I didn't want to toss my magazine stash, knowing that there were goodies still inside! So after having to move my magazine library a few times, I finally decided - I would rip out the pages I wanted.

That was a very fun and freeing feeling! I would rip out the pages, then recycle the rest of the magazine. Suddenly my load was much much lighter! But then my stack of magazine tears started climbing high, so I started organizing them into different categories. My print inspiration categories include things such as hand-drawn florals, graphic florals, geometrics, medallions, paisleys, stripes, plaids, wallpaper prints and the like.

Well, of course I couldn't live with them in their stacks! Sifting through pages and pages of inspiration, when the inspiration would only be a small portion of the page just seemed like it wouldn't be very inspirational after all, and would take so much time to find anything.

What I end up doing is clip out the part of the page that has the inspiration piece on it that I like. I purchase a ream of white cardstock (cheap but sturdy), tape, comfortable scissors, sheet protectors and binders. I then organize my clippings on a page and group them by color, hand or print feel and tape them down.

Once a page is done, I stick it into a sheet protector and then into a binder. My binders are organized by print theme, so when I am ready to start creating a "wallpaper" print, I'll pull my inspiration (clippings, books, etc) for a reference and begin drawing away!

Mind you, I am a stickler for going off on my own and creating original artwork. I am totally against copying someone else work - that practice outrages me! I have my style and create what I like according to my style and personal interpretation. When I look at inspiration I may be inspired by the concept, such as for a wallpaper print "Oh, I like how there is an outside element that wraps around the center design, and how the outside element has a texture inside of it". Then I go off and draw my own motifs keeping in mind what inspired me, and then deviating from that path as my print develops. Inspiration is used as a starting point, and I always recommend pulling inspiration from 3-8 different sources.

I've been creating my print inspiration binders for about 5 years now, and have a few binders and a hundred plus pages full of beautiful inspiration that makes my mouth water whenever I go through them! I'm still in the process of getting my binders up to speed, as I'm tearing out more inspiration than I'm categorizing! I think my goal will be to spend time building my inspiration library once a month so I stay on top of things and don't get inundated with tears, like I am now!

I also do this process for color, and will be sharing that with you soon as well!

How do you organize your inspiration? What type of inspiration drives you? What are your favorite resources? What tricks have you found that help you keep on top of it all? I'd love to hear!!


  1. Your focus is inspiring and intimidating but mostly inspiring... I have a stack of tears about a foot high of which maybe ten got cut and organized. Is it a wonder that I can't find things? Your designs are beautiful.

  2. Sometimes I wonder if we share a brain:) I just spent all last Friday doing exactly what you talk about in this post. (all the way down to the cheap but sturdy card stock!) When we moved to Hungary I could not ship all those magazines and so I tore out what I liked and made my first binder. I organize the prints by color. For me, I might be inspired by a geometric while working on a floral. Some thing about that geo-maybe a pattern fill-will inspire me to do a pattern fill in the floral.

    I totally agree with you on not coping and using many pieces of inspiration to get my brain working. Usually when I finished a print, it is so different from where I started that you can not even tell that the inspiration used was what inspired me.

    I like the new blog look by the way!

  3. i love seeing and hearing how you pull things together. thanks for sharing your insights, josephine!

  4. Corinnea - thank you : ) Believe me, I still have stacks and stacks to organize! ha ha! It's definitely a process!

    Diane - I remember seeing your inspiration pages and admired how we each did them differently for how we like to work! How often do you find yourself organizing your tears? Are you able to keep up to speed? I'd love to hear your tips!

    Laura - Thanks Laura!!! : )

  5. What an inspiring post! You make me want to be more organized and to be more thoughtful about my design. Thanks for sharing this!!

  6. This is awesome Josephine! Thank you so much for sharing. I tend to get overwhelmed when I sit down to create a new design/project and try to start without a clear idea of what I want to create. This has encouraged me to get organized!

  7. Where would we be without prints?..I stumbled upon your beautiful blog when I was writing my latest update..... I share your love for prints.


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