Sunday, 19 April 2009

Oh, trying is well, so trying!

My sibling, the beautiful and gifted Sissy Dunnit, is doing a course at UC Berkley, the last year of which has involved designing (on and off computer) various projects - fabrics mostly. Fresh ideas, patterns that repeat without making you fall asleep and colours that work..all to a client's brief. In her case, the 'client' is a course lecturer who will leaf through her submitted ideas and dismiss them with a simple 'no', too bold', 'not enough detail'...you get the picture. Sissy goes back and pulls more designs out of somewhere; she has the tenacity to stick with it because she really likes the course and has her eye and mind firmly on the endgame. She can take the critique from the lecturer because she totally respects this woman, her experience, skill and genuine enthusiasm when she pulls off something that will work, and understands that it's not personal. You can tell can't you, that I am learning from my sister's experiences; really, some of the lecturer's reported comments have left me breathless, and I'm not sure I could trash 3 weeks research, study and design after a simple 'no'.
So then, why when all I'm doing is making a simple card, maybe involving a rubber stamp and some colouring pens, do I have such trouble? I stamp because I can't draw, so surely it's easy to just well, turn them out? It's not though. Particularly, as my cyber-friend Coventry Ann said, when I set about making cards for people close to me. You can just see the effort. And I hate that. I'm trying too hard, as though the expectation of the recipient is somehow for a gallery-worthy piece of art. So often, my nearest and dearest end up with a card I've bought. Shame really. Same problem sometimes in preparation for a workshop, particularly if it's a technique refresher - I end up in knots because I feel I ought to be 'inventing' some new thing to be doing with the technique in question. I get to the workshop and the girls like the cards and enjoyed refreshing their memories about that particular technique and it's all over. And on the way home I have to have a little scream. How ridiculous to get so tight over something that creativity couldn't leak out in droplets, let alone flow! Maybe it's still nerves. The arsenal of equipment and techniques at hand should make me some sort of genius, and it doesn't - perhaps that's the pressure? And although I can often find a deadline really quite inspiring, it never is the case when the deadline is a special day for someone I love. This 'trying too hard' thing is definitely an inside-your-head condition. Not least because your recipient won't know which techniques, new stuff and creative genius has combined to produce their greeting, they will simply be grateful that you took the time to make them a lovely card. I think they would be agog to her that it took every evening for a fortnight because you couldn't quite-get-the-dimension-relating-to-the-design-principle-in-your-head right!
One answer is to make cards in batches - while you're on a productive roll and enjoying the stuff you're playing with. For sure, this means you could carry a really lovely stock. But they're never quite what you want to send are they? A card from stock never quite refelects what you want to say or the personality of the recipient does it? And so you go into trying too hard mode again. Hate it.
I can safely say that Sissy Dunnit has recognised the in-your-head part of this problem and purged it. I know this for two reasons: she's very nearly a professional designer and is already brooding on an interior design commission, secondly, she has never smacked the face of her lecturer.

9 comments:

Lyn said...

I absolutely get the whole trying-too-hard syndrome. All power to your sissy's elbow - it's all too easy to lose sight of the Endgame.

stephanie said...

hi sissy, love that you blog so kindly about me... no have not yet smacked the lecturer in the face.....but reckon we all share the guilty feeling of absolutely wanting to do that. specially when you worked hours on 3 - 4 designs that she gives no more than 10 seconds too.. then declares.... hmmmmmmmm do something else. !! oh the joys of school now back to the skateboard design. !!!

stephanie said...

PS.......i can TOTALLY relate to the card dilemma. totally. i have a freind who is an AWESOME grahpic desginer and is SOOOO into SB. I practically SHAKE when i show her some of my stuff..... wer're all the same... its nuts. cos we're all amazing women.xx

Debsg said...

We're all guilty of trying too hard at times. Sometimes though we just don't like to be beaten!

CoventryAnn said...

I think you are right about getting on a roll with cards, i like to use up my scraps after making a LO if i have time as i am often 'in hte zone' as far as that particular paper/stash goes... but time is the greatest enemy... if my LO is done i feel i have to clear the table and do something productive (ie make the tea/tidy up etc) Not sure what the answer is :)

Ayesha said...

i think we all try too hard at times even me and now that i just sit back and take it one bit at i time i dont feel as defeated xxx

Angie said...

I think that it all boils down to caring. We stress about a card or a lesson etc because we want it all to be the best we can offer to the recipient ... because we care about the person and what they will think of us. xx

my5bratz said...

hit the nail on the head yet again my wise and not so old friend...

and as to the rain...it bucketed down yesterday enough to delay the Anzac Day March (ds is in Army Cadets)..the skies cleared long enough for the parade and service, tho the kids both got wet so we dashed straight home for a hot bath...Tori just can NOT avoid a good puddle..lol

Annie said...

Angie put it beautifully. It's because you care about the person you are giving it to, you get caught up on it being perfect for them and then can never live up to your own expectations. You sister sounds very talented.