Event design is such a relative term. What I can do versus what you can do versus what your competitors can do versus what Preston Bailey can do are so completely different.
Different styles, different ideas, different clients, different visions, different strengths, different ideal budgets.
Event design revolves around creativity. Creativity is a muscle. Just like the muscles in your body, if they are not used frequently, they are weak. Your creativity muscle needs exercise. It needs perspiration, discipline, hard work and exposure to things that inspire you.
The more you use your creativity muscle, the stronger it gets.
If you tell yourself that you are only good at timelines and logistics, then you will always only be good at timelines and logistics. If you start working out your creativity muscle, you can become proficient (and even great) at design. You may not be able to do what well-known event designers do, but you can become good at recommending color palettes, creating great inspiration boards, seeing the central elements that your clients like when they send you 20 photos and knowing when certain details just won’t look right with the rest of the wedding or event.
The most important thing to remember about event design is that there is no right or wrong. Your style and ideas will work for certain clients but not for others. This is true for anyone who designs – event designers, interior designers, party stylists, fashion designers.
Here are 6 ways to start working out your creativity muscle:
1. On every holiday (including July 4th and Halloween), create a table display at your home. Use linens, items from the party store, props, desserts, plates (paper or real) and food to create a table display. Change up some of the elements, set different place settings and take photos of each setup so you can evaluate what combination looked best. Getting your hands and mind working together in this way is like pumping iron at the gym for your creativity muscle.
2. Do a styled photo shoot. Even if you are just starting out as a planner, you can work with other vendors to design a wedding table complete with linens, china, glassware, flowers, stationery, favors and other details. Many photo shoots are very complex with models, cakes and decor but you can start out simple with just a table design until you feel more comfortable and your creativity muscle and confidence get stronger.
3. Read magazines, design books and blogs that feature parties, events and weddings. Some of my favorite blogs are HWTM, Style Me Pretty, Landlocked Bride, Wedding Chicks and Pizzazzerie. When you look through the photos and featured events, really notice the details. Notice how the colors go together, notice how the details are carried out through the whole event, notice how you could use some of the ideas for events you are currently planning. Making yourself aware of so many details and ideas will fuel your creativity and expand your mind to what is possible.
4. Start noticing creative details at restaurants, networking events and in stores. You can find a whole lot of inspiration and ideas just by browsing through Pier One, Pottery Barn or at your favorite restaurant.
5. Start noticing atmospheres. Next time you are out to dinner, notice as many things as you can about the restaurant. What kind of lighting do they have, what is the background music, what kind of china do they use, what are the chairs like, what is the appearance of the menu. This helps you see and learn how many different details work together to create the entire atmosphere which is the basis of event design.
6. Try out your skills with clients. You can start small by sharing your opinion about a specific detail your clients are considering for their event. Maybe you think the chairs they are renting aren’t quite the right style or that a slightly different shade of linen would look better. Share your thoughts. Being confident enough in your own style and ideas is the best workout for your creativity muscle and is often the first step to growing your design skills.
When working out your creativity muscle, you may not notice day-to-day or week-to-week improvements (much like working out your body at the gym), however in time (over a few months and over a few years), you will notice a significant increase in the strength of this muscle and your ability to design events. Even if your event design skills go from a “1” to a “5” on the scale of experience and talent, there are potential clients who are at “0” and will gladly pay for your level 5 skills.
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Photo credit: Studio JK