My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #809: Too Many Choices

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-06-2012 10:44 AM 1316 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 808: Time to Draw Part 809 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 810: Planning Ahead Pays Off »

I had a good and productive day yesterday. While I had hoped to finish drawing and begin cutting, I didn’t really get that far. But that is OK. Sometimes things happen for good reasons and I believe that was one of those times.

I have been having trouble lately progressing with some of the new ideas that I have had lately. By the term ‘trouble’ I mean that I haven’t moved ahead as quickly as I want to on them. This isn’t because I don’t have enough ideas, but rather seems to be quite the opposite – I have too many ideas and don’t know which direction to proceed. I know it may appear to be a dumb problem to have, but when it comes time to actually putting the idea(s) on paper, it is definitely a stopper.

For many things, I know in my head what I want to do. I can almost actually picture things just how I want them. But the problem I am having is that sometimes there are several versions of the same project that I have and when the time comes to start to draw, I get stopped because I don’t know which direction is best.

It is kind of like choosing ice cream. When you have only chocolate and vanilla, it is much easier to choose than when you have 35 flavours sitting in front of you. Too many choices can muddle things up and really slow things down.

So what do I do?

I try to think of my customers and what they would like, but we all know that once you involve more than one person, there is never a consensus and it only tends to make things even more complicated. If I ask three people their opinions, I am pretty certain I will get three completely different answers as to which direction I should head. Then too I run the risk of offending those who’s advice I choose to pass on. So I try not to do this.

In my many years of designing, I have learned that people will choose from any given number of choices you present. This is true not only with providing patterns to them, but also for those of you who are attending craft fairs and sales. Sometimes the more choices we give them, the more people are confused and I, myself have walked away from displays only due to the fact that there were too many choices and I couldn’t make up my mind. There are definitely times when narrowing down the playing field can be beneficial, as it can make things much easier for the customer to decide.

So with that thought in mind, I just went ahead and started drawing. I pictured the first choice of design for the scroll saw customers in my head and began drawing it up. However, while I was doing so, I had an idea for a second type of design that is similar, but would appeal to my painting customers a bit more, and I began drawing that one too.

So now I have two drawings going at once, and while they are similar, they are also different. I needed to discipline myself to keep on these two and see them through the end before I begin another drawing and while it hasn’t really been easy to do, I was laying in bed last night and I thought of another variation on one of the designs that would add greatly to its appeal. So I cheated a bit and am going to add it in today.

Both designs are just about ready to cut today. One of them is geared strictly toward woodworkers and the other one is going to have two versions, one for woodworkers and the other for painters. I have one more teeny tiny idea on the woodworking one too that I may or may not implement. But there I go again . . .

Do you see how easy it is to be all over the place? My head is spinning with designing thoughts and I even think of things while I am sleeping. I have lists of what I want to do and I will be fortunate if I get even one tenth of them done this year. (But isn’t that exciting??)

I have had ‘designer’s block’ in the past – where I feel lost and don’t know what to do next – and it isn’t fun. When I am in that state of mind, I sometimes feel as if nothing will come out right and I just don’t have any spark that lights my fire as far as designing. But I must say, I am going through a stage right now when the fire is blazing and there are so many cool things I am thinking about, it is hard to keep up with them. What a wonderful place for a designer to be!

I will show a small sample of my design:

Of course it is a cool Halloween piece. But yesterday as I drove from the post office, I noticed that there is a small hint of golden tint on the top leaves of the trees. Autumn is quickly upon us as is the Halloween season. There is an urgency to get these designs finished and out so that there is time for people to make them and enjoy them.

Time to really get to work!

I wish you all a wonderfully creative day!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

5 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2859 days

#1 posted 09-06-2012 12:01 PM

Tis that spooky time o year already, isn’t it. Wow, time is flyin. I think you gave me a subliminal message to have ice cream for breakfast, so, thank you for that… lol

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3091 days

#2 posted 09-06-2012 12:05 PM

In my experience as long as you get them all down somewhere, sketch or fully drafted plan, you’ll get around to them all eventually. Time also has the effect of sorting the wheat from the chaff. I’ve had more than one idea that I thought, at the time, was red hot which in retrospect is truly awful and visa versa.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2939 days

#3 posted 09-06-2012 12:08 PM

I know that you have many customers to serve. Providing a wide range of products is best for your and your company.

As for me, I love the candel trays and Keith’s baskets. Also His “word” ornamnets have really stuck with me this year. I have also, spotted those little “initial” boxes as a possible furture project.

Just wanted to give you some perspective from this “very tired” scroller.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2977 days

#4 posted 09-06-2012 11:19 PM

Hi Sheila,
I like the title of this blog: “Too Many Choices” because it is the view of a designer’s word who knows how to do it. I can see that curves lines have a never ending direction to form what a designer would dream for a viewer to cope with the season. (This time the Haloween)

Nowadays, all designs are geared to the user’s choice… as they call it commercial or customer satisfaction. If it is for the hobbiest – more challenges, more difficult and sometimes the impossible; for buyers that they want only to own and enjoy… one choice – COST, and others may think of lasting time and quality. But for us who designs… it is always our originality and dreams.

Keep it up and Have a nice day.

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#5 posted 09-06-2012 11:44 PM

Thanks all for your input. I do believe that there are some projects that will be made eventually and the ones that perhaps were not so great fade into the sunset. I try to keep as many listed as I can – especially my favorites. Sometimes though when there is a window of opportunity, I have too many thoughts and ideas to fit into the time frame that is available. I suppose that is when I get frustrated.

I sometimes do design from request, but I find that most of the time I like to design things that I like the best. I think that is one of the good things about having an arsenal of so many patterns. There is a good amount for my customers to choose from and it allows me the time to follow my heart a bit and make what I like.

Once I make the decision and just pick one thing and begin working on it, I usually get on a roll and things are OK. It is just that first step that seems to be the hardest.

Thanks again. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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