Tips from a professional reader
By Fareeha Qayoom
met a designer once who said he never looked at other people’s work because he didn’t want his own work to be influenced by anything outside himself. That seemed like a pretty ridiculous idea to me. I mean, how can you avoid being influenced? You’d have to shut yourself away from the world entirely and, even if it was possible, it wouldn’t be much fun.
It makes much more sense to me to be aware of what other people are doing- that means knowing what’s being done, even if you don’t have to time to read everything. That way, you can absorb new developments, new ideas and techniques, and eventually use them in something entirely your own. The added benefit of reading within your field is you find out what has been done and what has been done to death. Wouldn’t it be terrible to come up with what you thought was a brilliant new idea, only to find it has been done over and over by other people? But if you’ve been reading, you’ll know what those other people have done with the idea, so you can do something unique, or with a different slant.
And reading is a really good way of learning how to do things—reading within your line of work lets you get to know your field really well, lets you know what’s going on so you can join the discussion (so to speak), and it teaches you how to write more effectively. What about reading stuff outside your field? One thing reading outside your field can do is expose you to things you might not encounter in your own industry. Maybe another industry has explored topics that your industry hasn’t really tackled yet. You can take the ideas from that industry and incorporate them into your own work. Anything that is a source of great ideas is worth reading.
Here are some suggestions on how you can improve your reading habits:
This article was originally published in the print edition of “The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review,” Tkfr issue 13, January 2006