Saturday, 9 July 2016

How to Easily Organise your Art and 3 Powerful Reasons why you want to!

In this post, I'm going to share a way of using bullet journaling techniques to build a comprehensive index of your sketchbooks, journals, inspiration and finished works whether they are digital or physical.  In doing so, you'll create a powerful resource you can draw on for inspiration and motivation anytime.

artistic resources, inspiration, sketchbooks, organisation, artist, creative, bullet journaling

Whether you use sketchbooks and visual journals or you sketch on loose pages or even create your work digitally, this simple organisation method will work.  All you need is a notebook and a pen!

If you're already familiar with bullet journaling, you're going to recognise the concept and the symbols we'll be using.  If you're not, and you love to keep lists and make plans and want to do so more effectively and in a way that makes you more productive, I recommend checking out to learn the basics.  It's not necessary for what I'm about to show you, but it's a great concept and it's best to start at the source if you want to explore it more fully.

We're just going to use two of the principals of bullet journaling: creating an index as you go, and using simple symbols to give your entries more meaning.

Index pages filling up with pages numbers and headings
Number the pages as you go

Open your notebook to the first double spread and mark the pages with the heading "Index."  You'll want to repeat this on the next double spread to give yourself enough lines.  On these index pages you'll enter the page numbers and simple headings for the information you're going to put on the other pages to make it easy to find later.

Now open the next double spread and number the pages at the bottom.  Give a heading to the first page to describe the sketchbook, file, folder or device you're going to catalogue on that page.  If, like me, you have multiple sketchbooks that all look the same from the outside, mark them or decorate them to make them unique.  I simply numbered them on the spine with a white paint pen.  You can also add extra information such as the dates it was started and finished.  On the page in your notebook, start listing the contents of the book or file.  List everything in the book or file, even if it doesn't seem immediately important or useful.  Use the following symbols to assist you when you look through it later:

* - an asterisk denotes something important.   It could mean a resource that you find useful or that you need to refer back to regularly.

! - an exclamation point means 'Inspiration!'  While you'll find lots of it amongst your work, you can use this symbol to note something of particular interest or something you think can help you in a current project.

Draw a little symbol of an eye next to any entry you feel deserves further investigation and development, whether immediately or in the future.

If none of the above applies to the item, just list it as a bullet point.

When you've listed each item, go back to the index and write in the page number or numbers the entry covers and then give it the same heading as you did in the book.

Entering the contents of a sketchbook as it's filled is easy!

Keep working through your collected sketchbooks, notebooks, files, folders, binders, boxes, drawers, computer, laptop, hard drive, thumb drives, phone, tablet, etc.

You could include other things as well, such as a brief catalogue of the titles and genres of books you have in your collection that you draw artistic inspiration from, a list of websites or blogs you find useful or helpful.  You can also make note of your favourite motivational quotes, personal mantras and artistic goals.  Don't forget to keep lists of effective strategies for combating creative blocks or recapturing your creative drive after a setback or hiatus.

Just make sure to keep the index updated as you go, and number the pages as you make each new entry and the resources you need will be right at your fingertips!

A couple of years worth of sketchbooks, numbered on the spines for easy reference

Now, I must admit, if you've been a creative for years, you're going to find it daunting to think about going through all the material you would have created, collected and compiled over the years.  Even with a simple and straightforward method of cataloguing it, it's still going to be a time consuming exercise.  So, why do it?

Well I have 3 seriously powerful reasons, and one really fun one, for why you want to invest the time to do this.

The first is that this will be a wonderful resource all by itself, and the more you put into it, the better it will be.  This is an index to your creative life!  Refer back to it whenever you're stuck for ideas, need reaffirming your goals and motivation or if you need to easily track down a piece or body of work that may suit a potential client.

The second is that it gives you an opportunity to go back through work you may not have laid eyes on or thought about for years!  It's amazing to see how far your art has developed over time and to pick out the patterns emerging in your subjects and style.  It's also great to revisit ideas that you may not have had time to fully explore when you had them, but that can contribute to a new project or inspire a future one.

Recording the contents of a binder where I keep the samples of my fabric designs.
The third reason is that any excuse to buy gorgeous new stationary is always a worthwhile pursuit!  Ok, I admit, that's the fun reason.  It's worth some serious consideration, however, as you're going to want a sturdy hard backed notebook that will stand up to a lot of use over time.  And yes, I recommend a physical notebook over a digital one, although you can always create one of those as well and save it to your cloud to prevent it being lost.  There's just something so much more accessible and flexible about a physical book.  Because I couldn't wait to try out this idea when I had it, I went out and bought a notebook (a Buffalo notebook from Typo, in rose gold glitter!  Squeee!), but given I have some designs available on Redbubble hardbacked journals, I'd be truly honoured and grateful if you found one of them compelling enough to purchase!
Oriental Paisley
Autumn Macabre
Sinister Shabby

Ok, so here's the real third serious reason why it's worth the effort of cataloguing your artistic journey: CONFIDENCE!  By having a resource like this, you have the confidence of knowing that if you have a creative block you can always find a way to smash it.  If you ever need to refer back to a particular piece or body of work, you don't have to go hunting for it, you can easily find it in your index.  If the worst should happen and someone copies your work or questions your intellectual property, you can quickly track down the original sketches and where the idea developed from to prove that something is yours.

Just the process of putting the index together is beneficial in itself.  Revisiting my previous work has given me lots of fresh ideas to take forward, along with some great Throwback Thursday material for social media (follow me on Instagram @liliflorapretty)!
It's also been fascinating to see how my style and skills have developed over time, as well as the sorts of things I draw inspiration from.

I hope you find this idea useful and motivating.  It's well worth the time you'll spend creating this invaluable and very personal resource. It will also encourage you to keep referring back to past work as you move forward, which is a great way to stay in touch with your style and remind yourself of how far you've come over time.

Comment below with your ideas for what you might include in your index or other ideas you have for cataloguing your art.

Take care until next time,