Source Imagery: Collecting Motifs

(Part III, Following “Settling On A Style”)

Now that I have my idea and my style, I’m almost ready to begin one of the most exciting parts of designing — sketching! However, there is one step left: gathering source material. Of course, this is not always a necessary step. If you intend to draw solely from your imagination, you do not need to reference any sources. If I’m designing something very stylized and abstracted I frequently won’t. However, when it comes to drawing more modeled, realistic forms, I am totally helpless without visual reference.

As I discussed in my previous posts, this design is a bit unique in that I’m drawing from both photographs and from preexisting, stylized forms. As a tool for collecting imagery that I either simply find inspiring or hope to incorporate into my own design work, I am a big fan of Pinterest. Therefore, my own boards were the first place I went to when digging for source material. I have a board specifically for flowers, which is where I pulled the following images from (I am only going to show a select few):

For my more stylized motifs, I gathered images from my “Textiles,” “Pattern Love,” and “Illustration” boards (again, I’m only showing a couple here):

The only complaints I have about Pinterest are that citations frequently get lost in the mix, and the images are frequently very low resolution. I try my best to only save higher quality images, but they can be difficult to find. Otherwise, I highly recommend using it to actively keep up a collection of source material — believe me, it pays off when you’re at this point of the design process!

Outside of Pinterest, I also culled images from the book How To Read Islamic Carpets by Walter Denny, which I referenced as inspiration in my first post. Any additional specific visuals I needed I simply googled. For instance, I knew that I wanted a snake to wrap around a branch in my design. After some searching to find a high resolution image that fit what I had in mind, I had a source:

For my secondary motifs I went back to my Pinterest. I knew I was searching for smaller, simpler floral designs that filled negative space in an intriguing way and would be easy to incorporate — that is, easy to alter in order to fit the space provided, as I don’t want to have to adjust primary motifs to make room for secondary ones.

Walter Crane

One thing I like to do is find inspiration from other design fields and interpret them into textile designs —it allows for very interesting inspiration and creative opportunities.

An Iznik tile

Usually I would be paying more attention to making sure that my motifs are very stylistically cohesive. However, like I said, this is a bit of a unique design and I want it to feel a little like a hodgepodge, so I just had fun collecting my favorite motifs regardless of their style.

Finally, I’m ready to begin sketching!