10 Reasons why do you need a visual diary to develop your creative process.

Hi, I’m artist Lillian Gray. This video is all about why you need a visual diary. In this blog I will cover ten reasons why you should have a visual diary.

1. An effective Brain Dump

A visual diary is an effective brain dump, and it helps us to keep our thoughts in order. Keeping structure is important because as artists we can get overwhelmed, I call it the funnel effect. When we’ve got too much research, too many things going and we eventually clog the funnel and nothing drips out onto the paper. 

By tracking our thought process it helps us to not get stuck in all the little details, but rather keep our eye on the bigger picture. I’d like to compare a visual diary to a complicated math problem. When I was at school, we always needed to show our calculations in various steps to explain how we achieved the final answer. In the same way your visual diary tracks your process to your final solution which is your final artwork or your final design. 

Develop original ideas

It allows you to develop original ideas that are uniquely you. Visual diaries usually create beautiful accidents where images, text and different textures get juxtaposed together that we wouldn’t normally place next to each other, and this helps us to come up with more original ideas. It allows us to create more freely and not always apply our logical left brain and our consciousness but rather create with our right, abstract and unconscious brain.

It visually depicts and demonstrates how your skills and ideas have developed over time, proving that you are indeed the artist behind your body of work. This is very important since there are so many fraudsters passing off Pinterest work as their own. Keeping track of your idea development is important for various reasons.

3. Allows others to guide, collaborate and explore with you

It allows others to guide, explore, and collaborate with you on your creative process. Usually, your art lecturer or your art teacher would like to see your creative process because it allows them to interject in your process at a certain point of time. Remember, we are studying to learn, to grow. 

If we knew everything, we wouldn’t need to study. So, it helps them to go back to your steps and maybe show and guide you on how you can explore different avenues in your creative process. By including some of your lecturer’s ideas or suggestions you can delve even deeper into the solution.

Often as artists we need to learn how to collaborate. It helps you to express and explore your interests, ideas and viewpoints in an even deeper way. 

4. An excellent solution to Artist’s block

A visual diary is also an excellent solution to artist’s block. I hardly ever wonder about what I will paint next.  I simply page through my visual diary and I am confronted with an array of ideas.

5. Emotional Download

A visual diary is also our emotional download that helps us to deal with the daily struggles of life, get it out of our emotional system. Look at Frida Kahlo who taught us that art can heal and help you to deal with trauma and disappointments in life. Remember that people connect through stories and in your artwork they want to see your perspective on life and not necessarily have a photo-realist copy of something but rather add your view, your story, your experience and a visual diary helps you to voice that.

6. Helps you to find your creative flow

It helps you to find your creative flow. I always say, art breeds more art. The more you create, the more amazing ideas and projects you will develop as an artist.  What I love most about my visual diary is that it creates a flow for me as an artist. I always explain to my students that standing water rots.  You need an in- and an outflow to keep your creativity alive. That is what the visual diary is to me.

7. Builds a library of aesthetics

It builds a library of aesthetics, it is a place where I can gather together all my research, both visual and academic, to start curating my own thoughts and ideas. Creating a library you can continuously refer back to. I have recently listened to a masterclass by the amazing Frank Dury. In this masterclass he discusses how he develops ideas, and by recording them he sometimes realises that in the beginning of the process he actually stumbled on the solution. So you can easily refer back to previous ideas. He also re-uses ideas on different projects, and you can only do this by keeping a visual diary. 

8. Develop your own visual language

It helps to review and develop your own visual language as an artist.  You can often spot a professional artist’s work a mile away. We instantly know, that is an Andy Warhol, that is a Frida Kahlo, that is a Keith Haring, that is a William Kentridge. And why is that? Because they have developed over time a distinct visual language. Shepard Fairey comes to mind. He has developed his own iconography and visual language over time. Watch my video on Shepard Fairey and how he has done this.  I also have a series of videos on the artist William Kentridge and how he has developed his visual language. 

9. It makes you a better artist

It makes you a better artist. I always tell my students, good art takes time. Even an artwork that is simplistic, but striking because it has been instilled and simplified over time. Simplicity is the result of complex thinking.

10. Develops your critiquing skills

It develops your critiquing skills. By exploring different ideas and scamping out various options, you quickly learn what works and what doesn’t. You start to understand why certain designs and messages are successful and why others are not. This helps you to develop a critiquing language and also enables you to advise other fellow designers and artists. And there you have it. 10 Reasons why you should keep a visual diary. 

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