Art, process and design blog of an aspiring industrial designer.

Posts tagged ‘advice’

The Importance of Side Projects

If you didn’t already know, side projects are IMPORTANT.

In whatever industry you are daring to work in.  Even the ‘irrelevant’ projects.  If you didn’t already know this, you are super late to the party.  I have heard so many great professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs speak about the importance of side projects, so listen closely.

In my opinion, and again, from what I’ve read from great people, side projects are arguably more important for your personal sanity and career of choice than school in a chosen field, or even employment experience in a chosen field.  This is because it shows:
1)  initiative,
2) potential (no client!! no limits!),
3) dependability and dedication, and
4) SAMPLE WORK

These four things are so essential for any hard working individual who inspires. Initiative and hustle are very important with everything being so fast and available these days (-> laziness runs rampant).  You have to be the one to grab it!  Also, when you work on a side project on your own time and money, it can literally be anything you want it to be, and thus holds so much potential.  It can be long-lasting and over the top and epic and beautiful, but also, if you fail, no big deal.  Just start again tomorrow.

Dependability and dedication are a given with side projects.  There are no real deadlines, you are not getting paid to do this and maybe no one will even see it.  Its almost more the opposite – often friends don’t get it, tell you its not as important as hanging out with them, and you run into at least two snags during the process (its becoming not what you were planning, you run out of materials, you are off schedule, your dog pooped on part of it).  But from this, you become self-motivated AND you become dependable.

It’s also a great way to build a portfolio, and continue to let your creative self naturally evolve.  Even if you are really great at writing fiction revolving around 9/11, sometimes you just have to move onto the next phase of your creative life and write romances taking place in the turn of the century.  You are no longer that person who wrote your first novel – you’ve grown, you’re happier/more depressed, you’ve explored it.  A side project is a great way to do that without pressure, or your editor saying that they’re not  really interested in this new kind of novel from you at the moment.  It is really one of the best ways to get the kind of clients you want and to focus your work in the area you want.

One fabulous example of a side project is starting a blog….. but there are SO many people doing all sorts of different side projects out there.

Here are some amazing examples:

Jessica Hische.  Jessica works as a letterer and illustrator, and with her early web presence started posting many different side projects on the internet.  Some of those include Daily Drop Cap (where she created a new letter of the alphabet every day. So far she has gone through 12 alphabets, but has since stopped the project).  She also made Mom, This Is How Twitter Works, Don’t Fear The Internet, Inker Linker, Should I Work For Free?, a doodle blog, etc. etc…  All while working and maintaining her own personal blog…. She makes me feel so lazy. Check out way more of her side projects right here (since she is the Queen of Side Projects, for reals).

-Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka SwissMiss.  In addition to starting her design blog as a side project, which has since become one of the most popular design blogs of all time, Tina has also created Creative Mornings a free, creative, conference-like lecture series that has since spread to major cities across the globe, Tattly, a design-y temporary tattoo company, and the design-y to-do app, Teux Deux.

Ji Lee. Currently a communication designer at Facebook, Ji Lee created and started the famous Bubble Project, the word as image project, and so many other side projects.

Aaron Draplin.  Graphic designer who created Field Notes as a side project!

Kate Bigaman-Burt.  Drew copies of her receipts until they were paid off, and then drew everything she bought in a day, everyday.  She’s been drawing daily since February 2006.  Crazy.

I could go on and on, but alas, I must go floss.  Go start a side project! Tell me about it in the comments!  (Also, if you need some tips or encouragement, re-read this post or check out this link or this one.)

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Advice to Young Future Designers

In case you haven’t heard of the website, The Great Discontent, they do these really interesting, long interviews of awesome famous artists, designers, etc.  They also always have a great photo of their subject.  A couple weeks ago they spoke to Olimpia Zagnoli, a great Italian illustrator.

When asked about advice for kids starting out she said:
“Be different. Keep your eyes open. Record everything you see, process it, and then spit it back out in your own very personal way. Get inspired by something that’s not just illustration. Be serious. Be silly. Get drunk sometimes. Dream a lot. Don’t think you can’t do it, because you can.”
– Olimpia Zagnoli viaTheGreatDiscontent

apr20,2013-OlimpiaZagnoli

Their most recent interview with Matthew Smith was great in its entirety, but here is my favorite quote about his advice to young future designers:
“I would say three things. One, spend time learning the visual language rather than just learning to style.

Second, learn to be a businessperson. Designers need to know how to solve business-oriented problems and ask questions that get at the heart of things. If you don’t already listen to The Businessology Show with Dan Mall and Jason Blumer, that might be a good place to start. Jason was my CPA for a long time and is one of the smartest, most interesting people I’ve ever met and Dan is a business owner who is doing amazing things. As designers, we need to be well-versed in marketplace and business issues, otherwise we remain stylists.

Third, for those designers who have a similar story to mine, limit your exposure to approval. Find the people you trust the most and stick with them. Ask them to help you build your own set of judgements to know when you’re doing great work because the guys who tell you that you’re one pixel off are not doing you any favors.”
– Matthew Smith viaTheGreatDiscontent

apr20,2013-OlimpiaZagnoli1

IMAGES: Olimpia Zagnoli illustrations here // here // here

Reasons not to bring a small dog to set with you

Amazing interview with Lena Dunham, writer, director and actor in the new, insanely popular show “Girls“.

So much to relate to and so much wisdom. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Something that I hope is that its not just about the moment between college and real life.  It can be about a transitional moment in at any part in your life.  Nothing makes me happier than when someone comes up to me, and says that my kids just left home, I’m 60, I want to make a career change, this show speaks to me.  The idea that its for any moment of lostness, or sort of grappling with what you have to offer the world…”

“The parts I enjoy playing aren’t really available to me, so I have to write them.”

“… it was hard for me to acknowledge that acting was something that I wanted to do.  Both because there was a little of the perception that it wasn’t a sort of intellectual pursuit because of the fact that it didn’t necessarily feel like there was a place for someone who looked and acted like me to play anyone besides, like, sassy best friend who, like, can’t stay away from the buffet, and because I loved writing and directing, so why would I not hire the person who looks right and knows how to do this job.  But I always wanted to act…”

“Success is connecting with an audience that understands you and having a dialogue with them, I think success is continuing to push yourself forward creatively and not, sort of, becoming a caricature of yourself, I think success is figuring out a balance between a really rich, intense, fulfilling work life, and the kind of personal life that makes that work life possible and that makes that work life meaningful.  I think failure would be the opposite of those things – I think it would be becoming too involved with the traditional markers of success, …”

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