Style: thinking critically about what inspires you
A few months ago this post by Rubi Jones about getting down to the why of being inspired something really struck a chord. It reminded me of being a first-year art student, and learning how to write a proper critique of a piece of art. Step 1 is to describe the piece in minute detail. It feels almost silly to get super specific, but it causes you to see the piece better than a cursory glance. In step 1, you never ever offer any judgment on the piece. It’s strictly descriptive. Steps 2 and 3 involve analysis of the overall piece (how did the artist create it) and determining the why of the piece. It isn’t until step 4 that the critic gets to offer any kind of judgment.
We weren’t ever allowed to say “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” Because that doesn’t really tell you anything at all about a piece. Who cares if you like it? What does that even matter?
Regardless of the medium (fashion, interiors, print, etc.) thinking critically about design helps you to be less judgmental (I hate it; it’s awful) and gets down to the “why” of your thought process. It forces you to consider the value of design that might not be essential to you personally but still has merit overall. I remember hearing someone say that they despised wood floors in houses, which seemed like a pretty broad statement to make. Why did that person hate them so much? It turns out that in that woman’s generation, having wood floors wasn’t exactly something of beauty or luxury; only wealthy people had carpet at that point. Having wood floors felt shabby to this person because of feelings from her childhood. I think that’s kind of huge – it isn’t that the wood floors themselves were awful or ugly. It was more about the interpretation given to them from the past.
Case in point: do you ever pin things to your Pinterest boards and wonder later why you pinned it? Where does it all fit in the grand scheme of things? We view “inspiration” at 100 miles an hour these days. I’m feeling more in favor lately of slowing down and analyzing an image to get to the bottom of why I feel the way I do – love or hate. And in return, I can become better aware of design elements that I either can use or reject.
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