1 Simple way to define your style

My eye is attracted to a lot of different styles. I enjoy mixing feels but also focusing the attention on just one for a strong impact. Let's just say I sometimes feel like I waffle. Perhaps it's just my love for design that I can find the beauty in everything.

In creating a clear vision for Pars Caeli, I wanted to present a clean, bright aesthetic that spoke to me. However, I've kind of been tossing out different ways to see that same thing over the last two years.

Until.

Candice of Handmade Mood, a seasoned photographer and expert in images and branding, suggested a very approachable method to define your style. It's called a 5 Minute Flip. The basic idea is to spend five minutes flipping through magazines (use the real paper kind if you can) and pull out every image that catches your eye. Don't think about it too much; just react and respond.

So I grabbed three recent editions of Real Simple and Better Homes & Gardens and set my timer. At the buzzer, I had a stack of images. Because I didn't want to be swayed by the ripped edges, I trimmed all the pages and taped them up in our mini upstairs studio.

As I walked by the wall, I would take down an image that was not as captivating as the rest. Every time I walked by, over a series of days, I would take down more images, until I had a solid group that I did not want to let go.

Here's my animated gif to give you a sense for the process as well as a sneak peek into my helpers and their opinions. It plays through twice...reload the page to see it again.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

Once I had my final selection of about a dozen images, I tried to step outside of my head to analyze and find out what it was that I loved about these photographs. You should really try this. It's not heavy commitment, and you're bound to learn something new. Here's what I discovered about my preferences.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

First off, I love photographs that look like designs. I should have been able to predict this, but it was still eye-opening. After spending most of my life in graphic design, I am drawn to order and to visual hierarchies. These images above from Real Simple make me gaze upon ordinary objects in new ways and see them as forms and shadows. I'd love to see them huge, billboard size.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

I find repetition of forms attractive. I love to receive color information through that repetition. And repetition that almost blends itself into full on pattern is very interesting to me.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

Find your style through a fun 5-minute flip! Grab your magazines and see what images remain after five days in your view.

Digging deeper, I saw that I'm drawn to bright pastels when paired with crisp whites. Simple patterns (stripes and dots) offset these tones well for me. And I am pulled into photographs that project the life I want (hello, Pinterest!). This last grouping was really helpful to me as I think about what images I create for Pars Caeli. I want fresh, feminine, clear, and approachable.

And that was totally painless. I can still love many different kinds of images, but now I know what I'm aiming for in this brand. My images remain on the wall for further reflection, and I'm thinking of doing another 5 Minute Flip for typography because it was so fun. And I love typography.

Give the exercise a try if you're waffling like me and need a sense of your photography, your graphic design, your interior design, or anything else you might be able to gather from the 2D luxuries of a magazine.

Happy dreaming!

xoxo, MJ

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