Coming up with new ideas

I often get asked just where or how I manage to come up with the things we do. It is easy really although sometimes I have to think about it longer than I like. First I really SEE what is around me - constantly. But just seeing isn't enough. I have to somehow trap those ideas inside my brain for future reference. If I can manage it I'll whip off a quick sketch in one of the sketchbooks I always keep handy to capture an idea. That's the best for it already translates what I see to my style, and helps me remember it forever. Sketching also gives me practice drawing. I need to do that regularly for practicing is the only way to get good. If I don't have time to do a sketch I'll snap a picture with the small camera always in a small pouch strapped to my belt. But I have a whole lot of photographic images on file (tens of thousands) and can't always remember just where they are. Failing that I try and just remember - but after 58 years of collecting ideas my head is starting to get pretty full and this doesn't always work. I have a theory that everytime I push something new in something old falls out. Somehow the thing I lose is never something I won't need later.

I was working on a sign design for one of the last show pieces for inside the Fox and Hounds Pub this past while. I had discussed some ideas with the owner but nothing I was drawing was working. I filled a bunch of pages in my sketchbook to no avail. This morning for an extra shot of inspiration I typed 'pub signs' into google to see if anything would spark my imagination. One sign of hundreds there caught my eye. I did a quick scribble in my book. What I saw on that web page wasn't what I wanted but it sparked an idea...

The sketch I had drawn was far too much of a cartoon and lacked the character I desired. Fortunately I knew where I would look next for inspiration. I simply swivelled by chair around and looked on my bulletin board in my studio. Up in the top left corner was a pencil drawing I had done more than twenty years ago. Back then I had been paging through an old National Geographic Magazine and had come across a picture of a grizzled old man. I liked him and had drawn this characature of him. I had no use for the piece at the time but I knew that some day I would. Today was that day at last.

The drawing was not usable in it's current form. I had to cut and paste, and modify things quite a bit. I ended up redrawing him entirely, adding an open mouth and a hand with a bell. He got a powdered wig, a tri-cornered hat and a ruffled shirt to bring him back to merry olde England. Adding a barrel head as background and a scroll with the whiskey label tied things nicely into the pub decor. Suddenly I had an idea I liked. Looking at him kinda makes you want to plug your ears as you smile. :)

Now I'll present him to the owners of the pub and see if they agree.

-grampa dan