This is probably nothing you want to hear, but it is a fact: our phones have become part of our minds – we capture moments with thousands of (unnecessary) pictures, we take down notes and voice memos for important tasks, we have our grocery shopping and calendars on them and all of our contacts have moved from an address book onto our digital devices. (Yes, Gen-Z’s, we carried a small booklet with names, phone numbers and addresses with us). If we lose our phone or if we cannot access its cloud, everything is gone. At least, in the times of the address book, I knew some phone numbers by heart. (I still do – most of them are landline numbers.)
As I run an online store, naturally, a lot of my work is digital as well. Digital “mood boards” are a big part of my work. The “mothership” of mood boards were literally boards with pins on them displaying objects, colour codes, fonts or designs to help designers create logos, websites or even fashion collections. Nowadays, they are mostly polished pdf-documents. But that old school mood board had a raison d’etre: to help visualize ideas and concepts; they were just taken to the next level. We could even say that these mood boards were the parents of Pinterest.
Similarly, when I see something inspiring or beautiful on my phone, I take a screenshot. Over the years, I have filled hundreds of files on several phones, laptops and USBs with these screenshots – and I hardly looked into them. I actually forgot about most of them. I am currently going through another design process for Pelagona and remembered the countless screenshots on my phone. (I have to be more specific here: I actually ran out of storage on both my phone and the cloud and had to delete pictures and was shocked how many random screenshots I had in there.) Similarly, my Pinterest account has thousands of digital pins I rarely look at. I had to do something about this and rescue the files and pins from digital Nirvana.
Even though, tech has become a big part of my life, I am still very analogue in many ways: I carry a physical notebook with me for all my thoughts and to-do-lists. When I study, I have to write everything down by hand, instead of typing it on a laptop, to remember the content. Even when I build websites, I use a huge sheet of paper and draw everything by hand. Why not try it for my screenshots?
I recently found my old notebooks from when I was a student. This was long before all the magazine went digital. Every time I saw something inspiring in a magazine, I cut it out and put it into one of my notebooks. I collected travel destinations, haircuts, outfits, fabrics, you name it. I had no particular reason or plan what to do with all these pictures. I just wanted to collect beauty in a way. When I opened these old notebooks, it was the strangest sensation – my mind went crazy with all the ideas, designs and plans in front of my eyes. It was a feeling I had not had in a while. It felt like using an old school mood board.
After a long process of filing all the screenshots in different categories (which I still have not finished), I started printing out some of the pictures. In a way, I feel bad about all the ink and paper I used over the past days… it was for sure not the most environmentally friendly thing to do, but I will try to make up for it. Then I cut the small pictures out and glued them into different notebooks: design ideas for future collections, marketing inspiration, and so on. One entire notebook is similar to my “old” ones: it just has pretty things in there with no obvious reasons – jewellery next to travel destinations, fashion inspirations and recipes.
I sat on the floor, surrounded by a mountain of small pictures, but when I started to put them in the books, I felt it again. I immediately started sketching and taking notes. This is the power and beauty of the analogue world – our mind is free from the digital garbage and can go wild. I am already excited to show you the outcomes of this analogue “brainstorming technique”.
What about you – do you have analogue work methods as well?