I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Reading Stories, Food for the Imagination

I work as a graph­ic design­er. Like many oth­er folks in my pro­fes­sion I find it hard to turn off. I may not be think­ing about pro­jects from work all the time, but I’m always think­ing about pro­jects I’d like to do or review­ing the things I see all around me. I see every piece of design and men­tally crit­ic it, 99% of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it, but it’s there, almost like a 6th sense won­der­ing what ques­tions the design­er faced.
I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve sat in a res­taur­ant look­ing at the menu only to real­ise I’m not look­ing at what’s on offer but the way it’s been type­set. What font did they use? What does it make me think of the res­taur­ant? Does it make the food I’m read­ing about sound even tasti­er or does it make me think I’ll be left want­ing more? Does the menu fit the sur­round­ings or does it just feel like a design­er some­where threw it togeth­er because he did­n’t get a prop­er brief?
It’s a pretty con­stant state of affairs. Right now I’m glan­cing at the empty can of San Miguel thats sit­ting on the din­ing table. Does it look like the taste? Does it make me want to lie on a hot beach in Spain? What the heck has a ship got to do with beer? Why did the design­er pick gold as the main can col­our and break away from the green and white that used to be there?
I can­’t turn it off, and many a time I’ve amused good friends as I verb­al­ise my critique.
Unfor­tu­nately relax­ing is made all the more harder by it. I read to do my relax­ing, mostly the blogs of a select few but they’re people who I’ve come to trust. I trust that the links they post are to inter­est­ing con­tent, art­icles that can lead me on a chase around the inter­net look­ing at web­sites, new web­sites. Web­sites that start the inner crit­ic on it’s famil­i­ar chain of ques­tions. Ques­tions that lead me to find anoth­er way of reading.
Mostly made of paper that smell of ink and aren’t dis­played on a screen. How­ever, in this age of con­stant stream of inform­a­tion that feeds a thirst for know­ledge, growth and under­stand­ing, I find I need a book that does­n’t make me think too much. There’s no point going to bed to read only to lie in bed for hours think­ing about the chapter I just read and the chal­lenges or know­ledge it imparts. I need a good story. Some­thing that will make me keep turn­ing the pages, com­pel­ling me to read. So it is with great joy in the last year or so that I’ve dis­covered an author I enjoy, one that draws me to read rather than watch inane tv shows.
It’s not the nov­els that I write this about though, it’s the impact they have on me. As well as help­ing me relax, they force me to use my ima­gin­a­tion. When read­ing about the unrav­el­ling story I’m forced to ima­gine the scene, what people look like and where they are. I’m forced to stop ask­ing the ques­tions I ask all day long as I review and work on the vari­ous pro­jects I have on the go. That time away from ques­tion­ing and eval­u­at­ing can only have one impact as far as I’m con­cerned, that is, to make my work bet­ter. Hav­ing time to just ima­gine frees me from the con­straints that are so often put in place when work­ing. They may be imposed on me by the pro­jects, or by the press­sures I put on my self, but the more I read and use my ima­gin­a­tion in a com­pletely unat­tached man­ner. The more cre­at­ive I feel, the more my ima­gin­a­tion is fed the more eas­ily I find work.
In a time when the people around me seem to read more than they ever did, I seem to be the only per­son among my friends who reads nov­els. I’d like to encour­age you to start. Take a short story and read it. Start small and find some­thing that feeds your ima­gin­a­tion, a story which gives it new life and see what impact it has on your work.