The Blank Slate: What’s the Craziest Thing You’ve Used in Design?

The Blank Slate: What’s the Craziest Thing You’ve Used in Design?

Throughout my design career I’ve found ways to incorporate everything from feathers, wood, grass and dirt to paint, fabric, oil and grease in my work. In my opinion, part of the fun of design is realizing how limitless it truly is. Design can be found in anything, and can be created with anything. Tomorrow I am publishing a new Photoshop Brush for our Resource Collection called Ink Stains and Bleach. The set was created by combining inks splatters with drops of bleach. The set is a perfect example of using off-the-wall elements to create something new and unique.

For this issue of The Blank Slate… I want to know what you consider to be the craziest thing that you have used in your design work. Use the comment form below to tell us about the project and how you utilized something unconventional to produce the end result.

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Nathan Brown

Nathan Brown is a graphic designer who loves working with various media. He combines traditional art styles with a little experimentation and digital flare. Nathan's works have contained everything from ink and paint to leaves and a box of dirt. Everything is fare game when it comes to his approach to art. Nathan lives in Austin, Texas where he has been working as a designer for 10 years.


(+add yours)
  1. For a bakery I once made a map to illustrate how to find it. I took a slice of bread, carved in the streets and put it on the scanner. Came out pretty cool.

  2. Matches, to realize light effect textures, with the help of my old Kodak, that I needed for a graphic design project

  3. Hey Nathan, funny question! At a glance, looking back, the craziest thing i have used in design is goatskin… for a set of textures. Take a look:

  4. I once carved a clients logo into a pumpkin as a “Halloween Special”. Not sure how out there that is, but it looked fantastic!

  5. Mark Wassmer

    At college, I once made an entire tombstone out of plaster and carved a set of piano keys into it, painted and distressed it just to take a photograph for a poster about beethoven. What took me about a week would take no time on a computer today but this was 17 years ago…

    I’ve also used the back of a old backing tray form the kitchen to create some steampunk textures for a design that had to resemble the industrial, distressed classic Jules Verne nautilus look.

  6. Ressa McCray

    I had designed some Hopi Kachina dolls in Illustrator and I wanted to use them for a diorama. So I used chamois and heat transfer paper. Chamois does NOT like heat.

  7. Doody

    Ah… great question… Bees, a lot of bees for a printed magazine 2 years ago ;)

  8. I once tied a tampon on a long piece of string, soaked it in black ink, en smashed it on a large piece of paper for some wonderful splashes.

    Also wrote words with it :)

  9. Lint roll sheets for a set of noisy/dusty textures :-)

  10. Amber Edgar

    I scooped up some dried geranium pedals that had fallen on my kitchen floor, and scanned them to use as cool overlay texture.

  11. Tim

    I carved a celtic letterform into a potato to make a potato stamp and then stamped copies of it until the form broke down into a shape I liked for a rock band’s logo.

  12. Mandy Poremba

    Carved logos into a pumpkins this past halloween. Both turned out great!

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