Inspiration

Excuse me a moment while I pop in some Coltrane.

There. Much better. It’s nearly impossible to write about the inspiration behind our designs without some auditory stimulation. And with good reason.

Because we place such a high value on the process of great design, we don’t just spend time working on what a guitar strap or gig bag will look like. We spend time thinking. We process our visual and musical influences and experiences.

Influences come from a multitude of directions, from fine art to architecture, from concept auto design to ancient weapons of warfare, from urban graffiti to high tech architecture, and everything in between. Influences also come from a variety of musical experiences, from jazz clubs to bluegrass festivals or big stadium rock shows. Specific artists representing a wide range of styles are a big influence as well. Even a memory can be the driver behind a design.

Our Shadowlands Two-Tone guitar strap is a great example of this phenomenon. As I was contemplating the direction for a new design, a memory of an experience I had as a younger man kept playing in my head.

On the surface, it was just another cold winter night. The massive crowd gathering outside was warming up with the standard pre-concert stimulations. But on this night, there was more than anticipation pulsing through the restless crowd. There was a palpable tension. Sirens pierced the dark night on the left and right. Fights broke out. Preachers walked through the increasingly agitated crowd, telling of God’s love. It’s as if there was a war between darkness and light breaking out just beyond the visible spectrum and the entire crowd could feel it.

Inside the venue, people fought for position on the floor or settled in to their seats. There was something about this stage that was different. It was eerily quiet. Hovering around the guitars, stacks, and risers on that stage was a presence.

I think we in the audience all knew something was up the moment the house lights went down, darkness consuming the auditorium. Before any light returned, a single guitar would not only shake the earth with unthinkable volume, but would make a serious attempt to penetrate our souls with a cage.

This was Sabbath.

Now, memories can be a strange thing, of course. What floats in the brain is a blurry picture, a texture, a vibe. How did this concert memory influence the Shadowlands design exactly? That’s hard for me to say. The design process takes you on a journey of discovery. All I really need to know as a designer is that point in the process when the road has lead me to something worth sharing and my work is done.