It can be difficult in the soap market (or any artistic creative market) to find inspiration and staying on top of what’s in and selling. With this pressure comes the temptation to copy a design that you like, let’s face it it’s hard to come up with an original mermaid soap.. or a unicorn soap.. or a rainbow cloud bath bomb that hasn’t already been done. While wanting to try these already popular designs how do you shy away from outright copying? It is said imitation is the highest form of flattery, however when you do copy it is hard to stand behind someone else’s design and the person who came up with the idea certainly does not feel flattered. I wanted to try to help you on your way to something that is more true to you as an artist and something that you can stand behind as your own discovery. I have broken this down into 5 quick topics that might help you find another idea from where you are now-
1. A little bit of everything. – The first thing I would encourage you to do is have a look at what you have done already, things you have made in the past that you absolutely love and what has sold well. Now to look at these as a designer what is the colour palette you most enjoy? Hot colours? Cold colours? Metallics? Stripes? Is there a theme that you absolutely loved making? Or a particular style of the process you enjoy? These can help you find your way to something closer to what gets you excited about making. For example, if pastel flowers is your thing and what you really enjoy, then I would urge you to incorporate this into all the themes of the seasons, spring flowers, fall flowers, Christmas flowers.. these can all be done around what part you enjoy making and this will strengthen your brand as people see a consistency through your products. Lets continue with this theme of flowers for the time being and when it is six months down the track and you are feeling bored and tired of pastel flowers.. where do you find inspiration? How do you build on what you already have been doing without just doing a google image search?
2. Colour palettes - These are a great resource for a soaper, learning complimentary colours, Triadic Color Scheme, Analogous scheme, looking at design trends for colour palettes and even paint companies might help you see what is up and coming for next season or trying to incorporate a new colour into the colours you already use. Even playing with ratios of colours in a design can give balance or pop or something new. Gradients, website design, seasonal colours can all give you a new dynamic on what you have as your go to colours.
Try searching on http://colorpalettes.net/ to get lost for hours in amazing palettes.
3. Other Passions – looking outside of what you make to your other pursuits in the world will quickly broaden your ideas and also help translate into your chosen area. If we were doing flowers you could actually try looking at floristry websites for colour schemes they use, or if you were into say.. vegetables, actually looking at product designs or cornucopias and how they have made displays of actual veggies, fruit markets, seasonal shows, or applying vegetables into a famous style might spark something you hadn’t thought of. Collect pictures of what you enjoy in fashion, comic books, jewelry, pottery, seasons, astrology, famous artworks, dance, landscapes, geometric designs, graffiti, space exploration, periods in design history, architecture, food, wine, screen printing, animals, festivals, travel, whatever gets you interested and something that sparks that creative flow. Keep a copy of in your phone or on your computer or even in a journal. I would urge you to take a moment when you have found a particular picture and ask why do you like it? Is it the colour contrast? Is it the scene or the mood.. maybe the particular placement or element of something in there and ask yourself how you can apply that to what you make.
4. The extra step - Once you have designed something to take a moment and see if taking something away from it or putting something more on will actually increase the design you are trying to get across. Challenge yourself with your idea to make four similar ones in a set type layout before deciding which one you will do. Perhaps combine two products together? Perhaps try a new way of colouring or placing decoration. Will adding glitter on the top make a difference? Would actually taking away that particular colour change the whole dynamic, what about if you flipped the whole design and did it bottom to top? Taking a moment to challenge what you have done can sometimes at the last minute give you a whole new pathway you hadn’t thought of.
5. Approach the process differently- I like this for any soap maker who already has things made under their belt and is familiar with the element of chaos that soap making can bring. You can design and create and prepare everything one hundred per cent and still not get the end result you were after. I would urge you to take this element and let it go further by maybe trying new powders, products, mixing styles, pouring styles, different equipment or temperatures and let go of aiming for the exact end design which will let you enjoy the actual process more and can result in a completely different outcome.
Hopefully this got some creative ideas going and if you had any other great tips please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you and share any ideas. Let’s all try some geometric mermaid soap or some fish shapes with graffiti on them, let’s try some geode gemstone style soaps on some unicorns. I can’t wait for your creations and love to see what you come up with!