Feeling creatively stuck? Try this illustrator’s process for instant inspiration

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When it comes to illustration, half of the battle is coming up with a unique idea that perfectly communicates your intended message.

If you’re feeling uninspired, Bulgarian product & editorial illustrator Radostina Georgieva has some techniques to break through creative block and generate brilliant concepts. Learn how Radost successfully manages client projects and structures her days for maximum creativity!

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Where do you work? Tell us about your space(s).

Most of my work is done in a studio that I share with a few friends and a Corgi. I left my full-time job around six months ago and I knew from the very beginning that working only from home is not my thing. I love being surrounded by like-minded people to discuss projects or just go out for lunch with!

My desk is big enough to fit everything I need: a bunch of paper and pencils, my tablet and laptop, my plants, and even some of my Kinder egg toys. The wall above the desk is filled with work in progress, sketches, and posters — including my fresh Andy J. Pizza print of “Invisible Things” that traveled around 8,000 km to be here. It might seem a bit cluttered at first, but this makes the space feel cozier and helps me get into play mode.

Some days I prefer to stay at home because it helps me unwind and work on personal projects. I’ll put on some happy tunes or a podcast and just spend the day sketching and exploring styles or interesting case studies.

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Where does your inspiration come from and what does your creative process usually look like?

Lately, I’ve been drawn to old illustrated books, newspapers, and magazines. I can spend hours in vintage bookstores and be completely immersed in the atmosphere there. I love looking closely at the techniques and materials that were used before modern software and printers were available.

If I can’t think of anything to draw I start writing random words until something sticks.

For my digital collection of visual inspiration, I create moodboards and use browser bookmarks. I try to make the collection as diverse as possible, saving everything from design and illustration to art history, vintage photography, or quirky microscope shots of plant seeds (the seeds are worth checking out! I’m actually thinking of turning some of those into illustrated characters).

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When working on a commission, my process always starts with a discussion around the goals of a project and the expected results. I try to listen carefully and collect all the information I need from the client. Once I get a good idea of the brief, I simply start digging deeper by doing more research and collecting images and keywords that might help me come up with interesting ideas and metaphors. All of this ends up on a Milanote board where I can show it and discuss it with clients.

The next step is to look closer at the collected bits and pieces and come up with concept sketches. I like keeping the initial drawings rough. This way I don’t feel attached to them and I’m able to come up with more ideas.

Once I see potential in something I polish the details and “pin it” to the board. Adding a few variations of color palettes and brush strokes next to the sketch usually helps to get a better idea of the final results. I check in with the client for any feedback, and only then do I start illustrating and bringing sketches to life.

  1. Overprotective

  2. Deal!

  3. Get rid of those templates.

When it comes to personal work, I do whatever feels right. Sometimes this means starting with sketches, sometimes – jumping directly into shapes and colors. If I can’t think of anything to draw I start writing random words until something sticks. Naturally, the first things that come to mind are reflecting my own feelings or experiences.

Tell us about your routine (or lack of one.) How do you structure your days to get things done?

While my routine is not very strict, but there is one thing that remains the same: I never skip breakfast. It’s one of the reasons I get up in the morning — I’m simply too hungry to spend my day in bed. Fast forward the typical morning prep, it takes me about 15 minutes of walking to reach the studio. I’m usually ready to kick-off by 9:30 am.

I follow a few simple rules to distribute the things I need to get done. Mornings are for focused work and coming up with ideas, early afternoons are for illustrating approved sketches, and late afternoons are for emails and calls. My bullet journal and my calendar help me keep everything on track.

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How do your space, tools, and habits benefit you? What about those things do you think needs improvement?

One of the big benefits of sharing a studio is being around smart people who are also running their own creative businesses. This helped me a lot when I started my own journey. I was able to ask all kinds of questions around legislation, accounting, proposals, and get helpful advice and support.

When it comes to habits, I’m trying to get regular with meditation and gym classes. I tend to overthink struggles and come up with all kinds of “disaster scenarios” in my head which only make me anxious. I believe that paying attention to physical and mental health helps me overcome stress and be more grateful. After all, what would be the point of creating if I’m too stressed out to enjoy the process?

Want to keep up with Radost? Find her on Dribbble, Instagram, Twitter, and at joypepper.co.


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