How do you know when it is finally Right?

May 27, 2010

The cover design I was talking about in, ‘Does Creativity have to hurt?’   eventually broke through.  I thought it might be interesting to explore here how artists/designers know when something is ‘Right’.  And do you always know?

First of all a few words about how the breakthrough happened. I’d  hit a wall with the designs I was working on, and very luckily there was a 3 day holiday here, so I put the cover aside for those days, regardless of the 31 May deadline. A bit difficult, since I work at home, and could go to the computer anytime,but I felt it was essential to detach from what I’d already done.

I thought about the cover a bit during those days, but I didn’t obsess about it, so the element of fear was absent.  I deliberately concentrated on how well it was going to work out, and how many previous successes I’ve had with this process.   I relaxedly surfed through a few cover design sites filling myself up with inspiration from others as well as learning what I did and didn’t want in my own cover. I have known the ‘feel’ I wanted for weeks, but have just not been able to get there by approaching it head on.

The night before I was to start work again, I took out my pens and played with making some calligraphic titles until I hit on one which felt right. And that was my starting point for the cover the next day. I also knew I wanted a casual, ‘in process’  looking sort of cover with a crafty feel, not a slick designy one. So I scanned in some brown wrapping paper as a background. With those two elements I built the cover out of collage and type exactly as I would an artwork in my studio. And I started getting excited about it, it started to feel like this was It.

And when I had it about 80% done, I knew it was the cover I wanted for my book. How did I know?

  • It felt great to work on it, solid and constructive rather than searching and a bit frantic
  • It made me smile
  • It gave me energy
  • It surprised me
  • And when I was done, it filled me with happiness and satisfaction every time I looked at it.

There is something few non-artists know about the creative process, and that is how much of it is spent correcting mistakes and wrong directions. It is one big journey of wrong turns and trying to find your way back to the path.

Does this mean there is only one ‘path’ or right solution? No, but I think it would be safe to say, that there is one solution or type of solution for this moment in time, my particular level of development, the kind of book it is, and the requirements of the publisher and future customers.

Once I relaxed, and started working naturally, my own visual vocabulary kicked in and all the elements of play and the touch of quirkiness I wanted in the cover emerged. But they came in sideways as a result of attending to the practical aspects first.

So how do I really know this is the one, and not just one more version that isn’t It?  Because there is nothing more that bothers me. It feels complete and in balance and so do I.

Another clue is that I no longer feel the need to ask anyone’s advice about it. Because I have satisfied my own standards first, nothing anyone can say would make a difference now.

It is not that I don’t find critique helpful, but having worked through this whole process, at this point it is important to honor my own vision and stick to it.




2 Responses to “How do you know when it is finally Right?”

  1. well done! great cover – and you write very well too

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