Patience, I’m learning, is a necessary skill for a designer. Unfortunately for me, I’m not the most patient or detail-oriented person.

I noticed early on that my design aesthetic is more clean and minimal—most of my earlier work depicted a single figure on a plain color background or a simple landscape. I had difficulty adding detail or multiple forms while still keeping the overall composition clean and unified. So this month, I’ve been focusing on slowing down, remaining patient with myself and learning how to tend to detail.

For example, when I was drawing trees for my forest illustration, the form of the trees didn’t look right at first—I made them too realistic, which clashed with the overall abstraction of the piece. I tried making the lines smoother, scaling each tree up and down and changing their dimensions. Finally, I achieved the forms I wanted: simple shaped trees that were not perfectly geometric so as to maintain a touch of style and individuality. The small tweaks made all the difference. The process was agonizing, but patience is key. 

I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that even when I was a dancer, I shrugged off the intricate moves, thinking I could get away with doing the general choreography correctly. Recently, I’ve noticed this same attitude re-emerging in my design process. This time however, I’m forming better habits and paying attention to how detail can transform an image. A row of small trees in the distance change an imaginary landscape to one you’ve visited in real life; a curled serif on even just one letter in a logo can create a warm and stylish brand identity. 

Design is making me more aware of who I am and the inherent skills I possess and lack. About a week after creating my forest illustration, I started on a desert landscape (my favorite piece to date!) and applied the same patience and meticulousness to the clouds, mountains and sand. The process was still tough for me, but it felt a tiny bit easier. I love the freshness of this journey, I haven’t felt this creative challenge for many years and the amount of growth ahead of me is exhilarating.

You can join me on this journey @nhjafari 🌸