Today, we enjoyed a visit to Astoria Fine Arts in Jackson, Wyoming (www.astoriafineart.com) on the Town Square. Among the artists they represent is Joshua Tobey of Corpus Christi, Texas (http://www.joshuatobeystudios.com/). Josh is a well-known sculptor working in bronze castings with exquisite patina that are virtually painting on the bronze.
Josh almost exclusively sculpts animals, fish and birds – sensually curvaceous and in intriguing, often humorous poses – without losing a fine representation of natural features or lapsing into caricature. His work is prolific and of constant quality, with 2009 being his best year to date.
Whenever Josh has an idea, he does a quick sketch and posts it on his Idea Wall, which, we were told, is loaded with scores of conceptual ideas – perhaps several year’s worth. He picks off the wall whatever strikes his creative fancy (or need) and goes to work!
The concept of an Idea Wall is long-standing and widespread (Google has million of entries, some only tangentially related). As an architect, I used several types of Idea Walls for many years, adding trace images of interim solutions and new concept diagrams or sketches to the wall while working on later iterations from scratch or by overlaying past conceptual sketches. The Idea Wall also has proven to be an extraordinary “group conversation” technique for brain-storming and management sessions, with many examples available across many professions and disciplines.
The great Renaissance artists, including Raphael and Leonardo daVinci, similarly produced copious quantities of studies – of hands, mouths, feet, horses knees – you name it – as they worked to find the exactly correct positioning for a larger work. Sometimes, the studies, often many to a single drawing sheet, served as Idea Walls kept for reference by the artist and by their studio protoges during future work.
Journals, filed drawings, computer-generated or scanned galleries of idea sketches may work for some. For many, the Idea Wall with the fully visible collection of related concepts is superior, visualizing all at once, allowing easy regrouping of like or contrasting visions all ready to pull down. Combine, overlay, kit-bash with sketches or post-it notes – however you are best reminded of inspirations – the Idea Wall is something you are strongly encouraged to try if you haven’t already put one to use.
How is your Idea Wall working for you?