People often ask me where I get my ideas.
The best answer I can give is I do a lot of research.
I am constantly looking at a variety of visuals, materials, approaches and techniques.
If they are refering to a production I have designed then the final "look" is often the result of a collaboration between director and/or choreographer, actors, dancers, other designers and the needs of the show in terms of script, mood and character.
If it is a period or historical setting then chances are I also did quite a bit of research looking at the period in terms of clothing and/or architechture and furniture and props. If I am working on a dance production then I am listening to music and watching what the dancers are doing in rehearsals. I think about how their movement will translate to what they are wearing and how this will create imagery or an impression on stage that will help convey the message or sentiment of the piece.
I am often trying to portray character or create a certain mood on stage. For this I rely on the elements and principles of design. I work intuitively with respect to design and visual impact and I have a checklist with respect to practical aspects like budget, maintenance and staging. I often feel like a juggler!
Depending on what I am working on I have a number of approaches. Usually I will create design sketches to help convey ideas to everyone I am working with. Sometimes I will also be creating prototypes and samples working with actual materials to test suitability and building techniques and also give performers something to work with.
The ideas are just the starting point. They need to be distilled into a concept, materials and approach need to be chosen and execution has to take place. There are often many steps involved in the entire process with a certain amount of adjustment required. Every project has different challenges and I am always learning something new.
Over the years I have come to realize that you can have the best idea in the world but if it is executed badly with the wrong material it will not succeed. Allowing time for researching materials and approach is one of the best ways of ensuring a successful outcome. Becoming familiar with a variety of materials, approaches and techniques is one of the best things you can do if you want to become a better maker and designer.