Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa: Alicja Colon

Andrew Littlefield By Andrew Littlefield June 15, 2017

Tabula Rasa—meaning “Blank Slate”—is a new series in which we dive into the planning stages of a creative project by showing the early sketches and outlines from creators, comparing those to the finished product, and hearing from the creators themselves on how the project came to life. Read past installments here.

Papercraft PhotographerAlicja Colon
Crafty Photographer

“This piece was for a blog header image. What I normally do is get a thesis from the author of the article and go from there. This particular article was about UI projects, the whole thesis being ‘why UI projects take longer than you expect.’

They loved the idea of an iceberg, because there’s way more to it than you realize (more under the surface). It was an analogy that the team uses frequently and wanted to bring into more of their work. So this was a project that would lead to a lot of other projects, so it needed to be something with a replicable style that could be applied to other projects moving forward.”

“Once I have the thesis, I start sketching. Now, I suck at sketching, but what I end up doing is trying to find something that melds ideas together. For example—I did one for a piece on the value of copywriting, so the keys on the typewriter were coins.

“When I sketch, I look for a couple different things: one is composition, the other is “how am I going to construct this thing.” Then I think about the lighting. I’m a photographer by trade, I know off-camera lighting really well—I teach workshops on it. I’m really interested in the interplay between form and light, so when I’m sketching, I’m thinking about how I’m going to light it constantly.

“The material for the waves around the iceberg is actually photographic gel. I used the colored gels because I wanted the light to shine through and cast a color. Those nuances you can’t replicate in Photoshop (or at least not as well). Any of those nuances that I can get right on camera I’m, going to try and do.”

“I get inspired by having a problem. I’ve never been one of those creatives that like to create art for art’s sake—I have to impose a problem in order to do it. Papercrafting for me came out of an inability to actually create fullsize sets. I got to a point in my photo career, where I needed to do some set building, but it felt too big. So I thought ‘what can I do on a smaller scale?’

“Anytime I get inspired, it’s because there’s a problem to be solved and I want to find a simpler way to do it. I’m not perusing Behance or Dribbble or Instagram for my ideas—I’m on there because I like it, but my actual ideas and inspiration come from a problem.”

See more of Alicja’s work on her website