What is design?
According to the dictionary, design is a specific arrangement of elements to create a desired result.
Lately I have come to the realization that I can't master all areas of art in my lifetime. I enjoy and want to make many kinds of art but I can't possibly learn all of them in my time here on Earth. Instead I made a list of the things I enjoy most in art and focus on them. These are based on my own values and what I enjoy the most.
In short, these will help me create the desired result - simple, lighthearted, appealing illustrations.
Here are my criteria for good design:
1. CONTRAST - size(big x small), direction(horizontal x vertical), angles(straight x curve), lighting(light x dark) texture(rough x smooth) substance(hard x soft). Don't be shy on making big contrast, push more, experiment, have fun, learn. Experiment the distance between elements(eg. eyes from nose), and play on proportion.
2. SIMPLICITY - simple shapes, clarity and silhouettes
3. APPEAL - anything that catches the eye, could also be but not limited to - cuteness and childish features
4. STORYTELLING - the illustration, animation or work of art must tell a story, not just pretty figures standing around
5. INTEREST - the secret sauce, the thing that will separate your bear design from all other bears. This is
something unique and quirky about your character, like a bear that grows flowers on it's nose, a flower that eats moonlight, a young kid who gets insanely strong after the adrenaline rush of a panic attack. The humorous, the insane, the creepy, the tongue in cheek; anything to add life and make your heart skip a beat while drawing. One can only play with shapes for so much, somewhere, a poor guy is doing the same thing wondering why his characters still look generic.