Thinking about design and contests

October 20, 2009

Rings & Things’ own Metalman, Kurt Madison, took some time before our big design contest to talk about what makes a winning entry…

I have been reflecting on what wins an award in a contest. Is it the biggest / most elaborate entry? The one with the most obvious $$ spent?

What makes this a winning contest entry?

What makes this a winning contest entry?

Lots of times, it does seem to look that way.  When you feel like it works that way, try looking at several years of winners for that contest.  There may be a unconscious bias working there somewhere.  I feel I have seen some cultural bias in international art exhibitions — this happens and you can’t really complain about it.  You can become aware of it and use it to your advantage, or at least know that it’s working against you.

So anyway….what makes a winner?  I think it’s always design. The work has to have good design.

How to get to good design?  Well, I guess my method is to collect ideas for a while, then I do small sketches (thumbnails) and play with my elements (beads/stones/etc.), until I start to get a real idea or concept in my mind’s eye.

Then I do some larger drawing.  I really like an expressive/abstract style of drawing — this gives me more ideas. After that:  I do a final design drawing to life-size, and really tight so I can cut metal to fit and all. Many times I get halfway through and the materials or visual ideas shift.  That may mean a new piece gets started, or that the current one gets benched for a while, or just improvements.

So in this description, how many pieces got designed?  Maybe 10 various directions — and from them, picking the best one and making builds for that GOOD DESIGN WINNER.

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