Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Master Your Craft by Tien Chiu


I forget where I read about this book or on what website I saw it listed as a 'must read'. Hey, I'm nearing 60 and live with a 4 year old. Some days it's good that I remember my own name.

But regardless of where I saw it, I am so glad I was able to obtain it from my local library via interlibrary loan. Now I just have to get my own copy.

Master Your Craft by Tien Chiu is full of quotes from artists in all disciplines, as well as, tons of pictures. The strategies she outlines work for both artistic endeavors and other aspects of life. I really, really enjoyed this book.

One of the first things which struck me was the concept of what you need to start designing. According to Chiu you need the following...

  • joy in learning
  • willingness to produce imperfect work
  • faith in yourself
  • persistence to overcome failure

She continually focuses on enjoying what you are doing and being willing to study, practice, and accept things not being 'perfect'.

Another thing she brought out was a similar process I learned in my numerous web and graphic design classes....

  • Design
  • Create
  • Evaluate
  • Change

This design cycle not only works for the arts, but over many other things you want to do in life.  And this a continuous circle throughout the piece you are working on. 

While reading the book, I keep thinking about the quilts I am designing and planning on making. Chiu talks about getting started and making sketches of your idea, brainstorming about it and setting yourself up for creating what is in your mind. She also makes a point of saying your sketch or drawing of the 'vision' doesn't have to be complete. It is just a starting point. And as you go through the process you may change it up, resketch, rethink your idea. 

Another part of the process is how you will construct the item and also looking at the overall visual design aspect.

This chain of events was really brought to the foreground as I am working on my "Queen of Ween" quilt. I didn't have a set pattern to follow created by someone else. I was creating my own design. What I did have was a set of different size panels to use, but no plan for how they were to go together. I sketched out one idea for how it would look before I started actually working with the fabric. 

However, after cutting out the panels and actually measuring them and hanging them on my temporary design wall, I knew my original plan wasn't going to work. So with those measurements and the panels on the wall, I redrew a sketch for the quilt based on what I actually had to work with. 

But one of my concerns was how I was going to join the panels together in a way which limited the number of 'y-seams' I had to sew (they are a bitch). However, once I had the second version laid out, I could actually sew the panels together with background fabric to make a set of five vertical panels, eliminating the y-seams completely. Huzzah!

Most of the book is dedicated to actually going from concept to creation of your idea or product. Then she does go into selling your art and things you need to take into consideration. 

Chiu also talks about what happens when you make something you don't like. She suggests you set it aside for awhile and come back to it at a later date. You might find you like it after all, or you can make some changes to turn it into something you will like. This setting aside principle also works when you get to a point you are stumped about what to do. Sometimes setting a project aside gives you new eyes and ideas.

I was pleased, while reading the book, I am actually 'doing' it the way she suggests. Past classes haven't been wasted even though I am not actually doing any web design or graphic arts, the principles translate well into other areas. I found I am not only thinking about my 'vision', but also more of the 

This is one book I want to have on my bookshelf one day!

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