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  • laura

creativity purism

Working in the design industry needs a thick skin, to not be too precious about your work and to be willing to accept feedback and changes that you might not have previously considered. On the other hand, it also needs you to be able to stand your corner when you believe you need to and argue passionately for steps you feel need to be taken. These are all valuable abilities when they're needed but there's something about being a designer which gives you a slightly strange perspective on your own creative work, too, I think.

I think it might be something about how since we're involved in this back and forth every day. We start to lose sight of the fact that the choices we are making are, in themselves, creative, and not just the day to day admin of our jobs.

Glass Shadows - drawn by Laura Siragher with Procreate for iPad Pro. All rights reserved.
Glass Shadows - drawn by Laura Siragher with Procreate for iPad Pro. All rights reserved.

This is a drawing I did a few weeks ago. We had some wonderful sunlight coming into our living room, which was already causing the lovely shadow from the candle, so I got a jar and a glass from the kitchen cupboard and took a bunch of photos. Different angles, different combinations of glasses, different crops. I then picked the one I liked best, took it into an editing program and ramped up the colours until I ended up with something that felt right. I then used

that photo as reference for the drawing you see.

And then I got some comments saying "wow it looks just like a photograph!" - which is a wonderful compliment - and I immediately started to doubt myself.

Was I cheating? Had I conned people into thinking I was better at drawing than I really am? Was I fake artist? Was I going to get found out and branded as a fraud?

Which of course is nonsense, because every step I took along that journey to creating this work was an artistic choice. Seeing the opportunity to set up the glasses, taking lots of pictures and selecting the best, digitally editing the colours until I found something I liked, and then the final drawing. These were all steps I had taken as an artist. Somebody else who had been in that situation would not have ended up with the same piece of work that I did. And because those kind of things are what I do day to day in my job, I'd almost forgotten they are still art, not just a shortcut to a result.

And then, in the end - who's the real arbiter of what is 'real art' and what isn't? Colouring in books require creative choices. Tracing a photo still needs you to look at that image and pick out how it is composed, where one shape starts and another ends (copyright issues aside, of course). It's easy to hold yourself to too-high standards that don't even exist. Enjoy your processes and enjoy them as the creativity they really are.

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