i am gerard thomas - the postit note project

The PostIt note project

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2020’s Inktober rolled around rather quickly this year and I had made a pact with myself to hop to it; 2019’s attempt fizzled at about week 1.5, so I was determined to run the full course. I even had the aim of using it as a vehicle to explore the ‘Tour of the Universe’ world building project further. The problem was, I have been busy with… ‘stuff’, so the idea of spending an hour a day on an ink drawing was not really on the cards.

I was off to a bad start even before I began.

And then there was my natural propensity to get bent out of shape about the technical aspects, a matter only complicated when debating whether to do it digitally, or analogue. But about a week out from the start of Inktober, I had the idea of drawing on PostIt Notes. I am not sure where the idea came from (nothing’s original) but I thought it was an interesting concept. So after having a bit of a play around on an old pad that was laying around, I decided to give it a go. If nothing else, I’d be doing something very different from what I’d usually do…

When I started with the PostIt Notes, I quickly found they not only have very strict boundaries (duh!) but also remove any ‘preciousness’ that often comes with sketchbooks. Their small stature as a canvas meant sweeping lines, or large levels of detail were not options, and even the smallest fluctuation in line weight made a big impact on the sketch. So over the course of two weeks, I found my drawings becoming lighter, simpler, with the emphasis on conveying the idea through composition, with ‘just enough’ to make it interesting. Plus, the very nature of PostIt Notes, sitting unobtrusively on the desk, always open and ready for something to be jotted down, meant I found myself spontaneously popping out little scenes and designs several times a day as they came to mind. I began sketching a lot!

I am gerard thomas - postit note sketch

Then, one day, this appeared in my Instagram feed:

“I’ve been following you for a while and I really wanted to emphasize to you how much I love your work. I see all kinds of complex art on my feed, work that takes hours, days, months, and yet the originality of their work is lacking. Your style is so simple, yet the ideas conveyed are extraordinary. Simply wonderful. Thank you for doing what you do!”

And that’s when I realised what’s happened…

<fade to anecdote>

Way back when, my graduation project was a design for a semi conceptual Ducati (it was the project than landed me my first job at Ducati). As part of the project I had to make a half scale model of the design. It was a fairly large undertaking, if for no other reason that a motorcycle has lots of ‘bits’, most of which had nothing to do with what I was designing. When everything was done, I’d graduated and all that, the head of the transportation design department came asked if I would bring my model in for him to show the 4th term transport design students. I was a bit flummoxed, the model was goodish, but nowhere near the insane level of detail and quality the trans majors popped out term after term (I went through the product design department, causing more than a few ruffled feathers with my project). Regardless, I brought it in and he showed it to the full class of students, some 35 odd.

And what did he say?

He said it was an excellent model, the perfect balance between accurately representing the design concept and detail. ‘Just enough’ I think he told them, in an attempt to make them understand that what had been going on in the department, as far as the models being made, was excessive and somewhat pointless in the scope of a design project.

<end anecdote>

My constant wrestle with sketching comes from a commitment to use 3D as my main medium for illustration. Sketching, drawing, is a tool to help me quickly visualise an idea to translate in the 3D world; where I can resolve, detail, colour and all the rest. But the lure to create more elaborate 2D sketches and drawings is always a constant distraction to my end aim, and in many ways, that has always been a source of distraction.

In the Instagram and online folio world of highly polished work, it’s very easy to loose sight that the drawing, or sketch, need be nothing more than a communication tool, conveying what’s needed to get the point across. This is especially true if you’re working in 3D. The PostIt Note project has not only seen me increase my ideation output tenfold (a very useful thing when trying to ‘world build’), but it also has forced me to relearn how to do… ‘just enough’.




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