As the principal graphic designer for Open Gate Sangha, a non-profit in San Jose, CA, I work closely with Creative Director, Prema Maja Rodé. This collaboration always proves to be fruitful, and is often quite exciting. We have both acknowledged that it is in this process of collaborating that we can feel the “creative flow” as a living energy moving through us, effortlessly making choices not previously obvious to each of us individually.
While these collaborative insights often happen spontaneously on a project, the following Mandala Project was more slowly evolving, happening over a period of time, through multiple consultations and revisions. The subtle changes and refinements reflect a design all the better for the process.
The Mandala Project
Prema has been creating beautiful hand-drawn mandalas for many years, and has a gallery of these on her website. The mission was to take one of Prema’s mandala drawings and create a vector-based (scalable) illustration using the organization’s website colors, to be used on the web and in publications.
Here is the original mandala we chose for the project:
The first challenge was to interpret and simplify the mandala’s various elements into vector shapes, keeping the integrity of the original. Mandalas are used as a means of meditation: working on this mandala—choosing the colors and the gradients—was a meditative process in and of itself! Also, I wanted to create a feeling of spaciousness by creating a “window into emptiness” in the center of the mandala.
There are multiple versions between the first and the final. I will show just a few of the steps to illustrate the process.
Here is the first version:
The next version shows a change in the direction of the gradient in the center circle, plus a lightening and modification to the shape of the outside “petals” and the distance they are placed from the larger inside petals:
The final version shows an increase in the yellow glow on the large petals, a further refinement to the shape of the outside petals and another change to the distance they are placed from the inside petals:
Original mandala: © 2000 Prema Maja Rodé. Other mandala versions: © 2010 Susan Kurtz Graphics and Open Gate Sangha. All rights reserved.