The Fear of Sketching

Written by Yaron Schoen April 05, 2010

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Recently I have been seeing more and more sketching going on. Either it’s always been there or I am now simply paying attention to it, either way, I’m loving it. I would say that drawing is what got me started as a designer. As a kid I use to draw all the time, my favorite method was simple. Pencil and paper. I used to draw all sorts of things, mostly the skyline of our upper east Manhattan apartment. I had an obsession with buildings, I guess that was because it was the easiest thing to draw for a 5 years old. I wish I knew where those drawings are hidden, so I could share with you, but I don’t. Probably somewhere in my Mom’s place in her suitcase of memories.

The real evolution came when I was introduced to Marvel comics. I would say that was one of the biggest inspirations of my young life. The amount of detail that went into each and every drawing left me in awe. All I wanted to do was mimic what I saw on the page. I taught myself how to draw these amazing illustrations the only way I knew how, by copying them. I didn’t use tracing paper though, I guess I felt that would be cheating. After a few years, by the age of 12, I was already capable of drawing figures by my self, and even started creating my own characters. But then came puberty.

From the age of 14 or so, I completely abandoned drawing in favor of music, especially for that new and fresh style called Grunge. It was a shame really, cause I never went back to my sketch pad. I became rusty as time went by, and slowly but surly all the time and effort I put in as a child went to waist. I simply stopped drawing. I guess, as a perfectionist, to see myself creating drawings of poor quality felt like a stab in the heart and that’s why I never really tried again. But good news…

Lately my fear of getting back to the sketch pad has dissolved and I attribute this to 3 main factors.

  • I purchased my new Wacom a few months back. I started doodling small stuff for very specific projects (that are soon to be released) and it really made me overcome some of the barriers that held me back. I am still not close to where I was when I was 14 (which btw I am now 30) but I don’t think it really matters, since I am enjoying it.
  • Leaving Fi more than a year ago. Since then I have really tried to escape the Fi style, not because I don’t think it looks good, but because as a designer I really needed a change. Fi’s style is very sharp, perfectly organized, has distinctive coloring and Photoshop effects. That is all good, but I needed to design something that had more of a handcrafted feel to it. Less perfection in the sense of perfect straight lines ect. The natural way to escape this style was through illustrations, handmade lines and textures.
  • And finally, my web designer peeps. I draw inspiration from many things, usually from sources other than actual web design. That said, there are some designers that simply draw my attention. I would normally not do this in a blog post, but since I feel these guys really help me overcome my fear of drawing, I would like to pay respect to them and display some of the works that are refreshing to me.
  • Kyle Steed - I was fortunate to meet Kyle at the recent SXSW. He is a genuine guy and it was a real pleasure hanging out with him. Kyle’s style is very distinct and it seems he has the same approach of the handcrafted design which I think is a rare and amazing style. Check out his stuff.
  • Elliot Jay Stocks - I am assuming you all know who Elliot is, so no real introduction needed. I stumbled upon his latest work on Dribbble. The Money Pig illustration drew my eyes immediately. This was a perfect blend of hand drawn illustrations with a blend of Photoshop touch ups. I also noticed that he created some buttons that feel handcrafted. I had done something similar in a project which will be released soon, and was really excited to see that this idea works. You can see his stuff here.
  • Mike Rohde - Though I have been aware of Mike’s work for a while, it is only recently that I really started paying attention to it. His SXSW sketch notes are to die for. There is something so beautiful in them, which makes me want to create my websites with hand drawn fonts. The work he did for the Rework book by 37 Signals is also amazing. Check it out here.

Where Is The Grunge?

So I am happy to say that I am slowly getting back to drawing, even if my abilities are not the best. I am incorporating the handcrafted feel to recent projects (where appropriate) and enjoying it. I must say, Photoshop is an amazing tool, heck, even with all it’s flaws it is by far my favorite program. That said, I feel we kind of lost ourselves within its perfection. That can be said about anything computer made. I miss the grunge of an illustration or of the music we listen to or even the movies we see. Everything became so electronically perfected that it kind of loses it’s soul. In a way I miss the good old pencil and paper. Hope that this feeling will last, before I hop back to my good ol’ Logitech mouse and create that perfect drop-shadow…

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