Saturday, 4 April 2009

Organize Research and Reference Material

Majority of artists and designers keep a collection of ideas and reference materials for possible future use in tangible forms such as newspaper articles, clippings from magazines, etc. These references are stored away in what is usually called a morgue file.

Morgue files can hold inspiration or whatever content you choose which get those creative juices flowing. They may contain colour references, backgrounds, subject matter or even compositional ideas. They can also hold things that make you happy or whatever your eye is attracted to. The possibilities and spectrum of reference material is endless.

Reference materials should be organised and stored in a way that works best for you; folders, sketchbooks, box or hanging files, even digitally. A folder with plastic inserts or sleeves is probably the easiest to start with. Just a word of advice to you, make some notes to yourself, next to, even on or the back of the clipping. Write down what it was that you liked or why it was added to the file. Post-it-notes are handy and highlighter pens may also be useful. Notes you make to yourself will help refresh your memory when looking through the entries at a later date.

If by any chance, you would like to start smaller or even minimize ideas into a little snapshots, then why not try a small photo album? You can purchase small photo albums with space for writing memos next to the insert pocket.

While we are on the subject of photo albums, I would like to recommend to you,see through photo album. I have just purchased five to organize my ideas by subject. These are the frosted (translucent) cover with clear inside pockets. I find these are excellent as immediately you can see what is inside them.

You can also consider a flat plastic and handy brag book album, that fits into your either your man or hand bag. Pop a picture or a photo in the front cover of album to show what it contains inside. These are handy when storing photos in a folder alongside current research material that you may be using.

Collect, store, and record your ideas in a sketchbook journal! Everyone should have and carry a sketchbook or journal even if it is something informal.

Last but not least, another approach is maintaining a digital morgue. In essence, bookmarking websites is a way of adding ideas into a morgue. Flicker and Picasa web albums are also a way to keep track of your reference photos. These can either be shared publicly or privately with a password protection. And the neat thing is, as long as there is a way to access the internet you can pull up your photos wherever you may be.

Remember... The idea is to keep a morgue organized and accessible. Clear out and sort through your files at least once a year. Designate a time for you to do this such as in the New Year or during annual spring cleaning.

Best of Luck!
- Kim Bennett

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