So I’m getting busier. Which is a good thing, right? Except I’m finding the work I do isn’t quite as satisfying. Not the designs but the end product, the masterplan I give to clients. And it’s been bugging me.

Late last year I showed my portfolio to a couple of friends. It contained work dating way back,  stuff I did at college, my first few jobs working for landscape architectural practices, right through to my own personal work in the past 5 or six years since setting up my own business. With a flourish I turned to my latest design, all stark lines and flat colour, drawn completely on the computer, expecting them to marvel at the confident design and spatial awareness. One said ‘It’s a shame you don’t do them by hand like you used to do as I think people would respond much better to them’. The other said ‘Yes, I much prefer them too’. Oh. I felt a bit deflated. But later, looking back through my work I could see what they meant.

So this year I have been once more weilding my coloured pens and hand-rendering (colouring in to you) my designs and now my sense of enjoyment in presenting the finished masterplan to a client has definitely increased and I can see them responding in an altogether more positive way to something which has been lovingly produced with human artistic sensibility. It is interesting to see that people still respond to something hand-produced in this technological age. Brings out the inner neo-luddite lurking in us.

I’ve got a long way to go. It’s been ten years or more since I seriously did any kind of artistic endeavour of the finer kind but I’m enjoying the process of mixing the speed of a computer with the slower more thoughtful technique of using a pencil and pen and all the room for mistakes that that implies. Gone are the flat colours. Instead I’m bringing back in the hand-drawn shadows beneath the trees and shrubs and putting in little idiosyncratic touches here and there in the form of bird baths. I might even put in a hand-drawn swing-ball.