Back to School – Part 9 – Intricate Chaos

Posted by on Sep 4, 2014 in Illustration, S'Wicked Blog

I fought with MIID Summer School’s final Advanced Track brief. Despite the clutter-bomb look of my office, I am not a big fan of chaos. So, this brief, which called for bringing many disparate elements together in one “Intricate Chaos” pattern forced me to go through a number of pattern iterations, trying to get to a place that genuinely said “dissonance.”

One thing came easily, and that was the choice of my first element. As soon as I read the brief, I thought of a zany doily my great-grandmother created. I think of it as my “Muppet” doily, because it’s wacky and frizzle-frazzled and fun. So, I scanned it in.

Doily scan

Doily scan

I continued to toss around ideas and concepts, and it dawned on me that ambigrams are a perfect example of harmonious dissonance, so I put together a couple of simple rotational ambigrams (rotate the word—in this case, 180 degrees—and it reads the same).

"Ornate" ambigram by Jessica Southwick

“Ornate” ambigram

"Deep" ambigram by Jessica Southwick

“Deep” ambigram

Now, I had some basic elements to work with, so I started playing. And playing, and playing, and playing. No matter what I did, my brain—with its inclination toward order, order, order—wanted to make a tidy pattern. I played with color. I played with scale. But, nothing I put together looked chaotic enough.

"Intricate Chaos" concept 1 by Jessica Southwick

“Intricate Chaos” concept 1

"Intricate Chaos" concept 2 by Jessica Southwick

“Intricate Chaos” concept 2

So, for the fifth? sixth? seventh? time, I went back to the drawing board. And, this is the swatch I came up with:

"Intricate Chaos" final pattern swatch by Jessica Southwick

“Intricate Chaos” final pattern swatch

So, why did I choose this pattern to submit? It isn’t because it’s the prettiest, or even that it mocks up the best. I chose it because it fit the brief best.

See that wacky sort of wavelength thing going on in the background? That’s my “ornate” ambigram on a tight, not-quite perfect repeat. The tangled netting in the center is a collage of bits of my great-grandmother’s lace. And, anchoring everything in the center is my “deep” ambigram. Put it all together, and there’s a fractured, frantic sort of feel to the swatch. In some ways, it’s not even easy to look at; there’s a vibration thing going on that makes it difficult for the eye to settle or focus.

When I brought it into the wallpaper mock-up, I added one last layer of dissonance: I put it on an unusual bias—not the typical 45 or 90 degrees, but 57, because that made it feel just a little more bizarre.

"Intricate Chaos" final pattern mock-up by Jessica Southwick

Final pattern mock-up


Before I sign off from this, my last MIID Summer School post, I’d like to express my appreciation to the entire MIID team—Rachael Taylor Davies, Beth Kempton, Angela Kiely, Kelly Elizabeth Crossley, and anyone else who contributed—for all of the work and time you put into creating such a rich experience for all of us.

I have taken my first steps down a new path, thanks to your generosity. Thank you so very much.