I think a lot, and I draw a lot. When I draw I think. Last night as Maryanna was cooking us up a late meal I sketched what I saw in front of me. A thought that I had encountered before resurfaced – drawing is itself an act of design. Now this may sound rather obvious, but it’s worth pondering.
Design involves the ordering and structuring of information. A designer prioritizes information from the most critical down the superfluous and orders it accordingly. As a designer, drawing has greatly helped me in my critical thinking and compositional skills.
In the case of a drawing, the observant eye is given a massive amount of visual data to relay down to the hand. There’s no way that one can duplicate exactly the nuanced shades, tones, colors and contours present in reality with a simple line of black ink. A drastic simplification must occur in order to represent something akin to the view transmitted down from the eye. The artist must prioritize the forms, textures and shading and work down accordingly. One doesn’t need to know how something works in order to draw it. This same naive approach can be helpful in design. A designer should be very knowledgeable about the subject they are designing for, but the design should communicate in such a way that a lay-person can grasp the information presented.
Drawing is an exercise. Like any exercise, it may be tough at first. It takes practice and discipline but I guarantee it will strengthen. The benefits extend far beyond the sketches produced. Draw long enough and you will see results.
I’ll admit, I can be lazy sometimes. I don’t draw observationally as much as I should. It can seem daunting at times, there are so many details in any given field of view! Whenever I pick up my pen and record what’s in front of me, the process is always rewarding. Observational sketching trains your eye to pick up the little details, and strengthens the coordination between hand and eye. I know there is science behind it, but I won’t quote numbers. I will say that the next time you find yourself in a creative rut, try drawing the view across the street, or even the messy desk in front of you. You’ll find it jogs the brain in surprising ways. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sculptor, video editor, painter or graphic designer, drawing always stimulates the brain.
Lately I’ve had this drive, this compulsion really, to analyze my work and take it to the next level. What that is I don’t quite know yet. I know that I want to utilize vector graphics much more. The challenge I’ve run into is how to hold onto the lively energy of my sketchbook while harnessing the power and flexibility that computer aided art has to offer. I’ve found that it’s necessary to show the human touch in some way.
In addition to constantly recording my ideas in my sketchbook, I’m also archiving textures, ink drips, paper wrinkles, old halftones, watercolor smudges and woodgrain. These assets I can use to add life to my design work, as though it’s already lived in the world outside the computer and seen a little abuse.
In our latest collaboration projects, Maryanna and I (aka Eagle & Wolf) have been working on the same page together. This is a departure from how we originally started collaborating, where Maryanna would hand me he part of the work, which I would scan and work on within the computer. I’ve really been enjoying this method of collaboration.
This piece is a gift for my Grandmother’s 85th birthday. I rendered the hummingbird while Maryanna created the floral environment. Maryanna worked her pastel and charcoal magic to tie everything together. The present was very well received.
This drawing is a wedding/housewarming present for a two friends who married earlier this year. They recently moved out of town, so we wanted to give them something to remind them of Portland. Maryanna had the idea to create the notable bridges spanning the Willamette River, but with a surrealist bent. I created the miniaturized version of Portland’s cityscape, while Maryanna crafted the bridges from flowers, bows, fur, teeth and feathers.
The Pyramid Monster drawing represents our first collaboration where we worked directly on the same page. I created the central character based on a sketch from August of last year. Once I completed the ink work, the piece sat for a month as I couldn’t decide on how I wanted to treat the background. We decided that the piece would work well as a foundation for an Eagle & Wolf collab, so I put it in Maryanna’s hands. She effortlessly created a cast of motley foodstuffs to accompany my monster. Her charcoal treatment really brought the whole thing to life.
We definitely plan on continuing these collaboration efforts. We certainly accept commissions, so if you’re looking for an Eagle & Wolf piece of your very own, please get in touch. You can view our complete body of work here: EagleAndWolf.net
Posted in Eagle & Wolf
Tagged bridges, charcoal, cityscape, Collaboration, drawing, Eagle & Wolf, Illustration, ink, Jake Hollomon, Maryanna Hoggatt, portland, surreal
It’s been about a month since I got this piece, done by the supremely talented Clae Welch at Historic Tattoo Society. The tattoo depicts a quill pen and an inkwell, which is spilling into a cascade of decorative inkwork. It was thrilling to see Clae take my concept and visualize it in a way that I couldn’t have expected. It was definitely worth the three month wait!