My projects tend to take one of two routes: informative, applied, educational stuff or explorative, authorial, installation-based stuff.
Working with spaces is in itself about building a little world, an experience that may be located within a room, a gallery, or someplace else.
There's something I like about using an installation space to take the mind of the viewer (or visitor) somewhere else. But more on that in my post on installations.
For now, what I want to talk about is how one comes up with a concept for a world.
You start by asking as many questions as possible.
What is the weather and climate like?
What do the inhabitants look like? How do they dress? How do they build their houses?
Do they make little objects and trinkets?
How do they interact with the other flora and fauna around them?
What is their society like?
The list could go on.
When sketching out an imaginary world, I think it's still important to use real-world research to springboard ideas off and develop scenery and characters from.
For example, reinterpreting images of plants, animals, architecture, and other stuff in your own way. Taking something inspired by the real world and transforming it to produce an otherworldly quality.
One artist who does this really well is Moebius. His alien landscapes take inspiration from both organic and geometric forms, and he merges them together to make something truly other.
His worlds are expansive, well-developed but with an all-important sense of mystery, and very immersive.
Besides finding inspiration and asking yourself loads of questions, I think it's important not to over-define everything. At least in my experience, developing a world visually is more exciting when your drawings raise more questions and you and the viewer are left to imagine well beyond what is already described.
image credit: Moebius