The Importance of Personal Projects
Hello, this is a bit of a different issue and is coming out independently from the weekly newsletter.
I recently made a video about the importance of personal passion projects for designers.
I wanted that message to reach as many people as possible so I am also going to cement it into the newsletter’s history with a written version.
Personal Passion Projects
As Designers working with cool clients and collaborating with others is such a fulfilling experience, however, I think the most rewarding projects come out of your own imagination and passion.
At the end of the day, we all gotta work with clients or do our full-time job to put food on the table and gas in the car
but what I really think helps separate you from other designers and keeps your creative spark is working on personal passion projects
When I first got into design it felt like more of an artistic expression to me and less of a corporate job that I need to slave away at just to pay the bills. Somewhere along the way though that got tampered with, but I've been trying to get that feeling back each year.
My first experience with design was screenprinting t-shirts and messing around with photoshop in a high school visual communication class.
I am forever grateful for that class and shoutout to Mr. Murray because it allowed me to find a passion earlier than a lot of my peers. Design was new, exciting and something I could see myself doing for a long time.
Even when the teacher was forcing us to trace the batman logo in adobe illustrator I loved it and when the class was talking to each other while the teacher played us an Aaron Draplin video I was glued to the projector.
Every day I was excited to go to that class and learn more and more about design. That class even sparked my first-ever passion project, Depravity.
Depravity was a clothing brand I started in high school and I loved it. I put so much passion into that endeavor and it really helped unlock the entrepreneurial side of myself as well.
I was hustling delivering products all across town and promoting on the early days of Instagram.
Long story short I sold a bunch of t-shirts, got in trouble for putting stickers of my logo all over the school, and had a blast along the way. Eventually, I went to college and stopped that business, and focused on school and learning the so-called “real fundamentals” of design.
The school was cool and all but some of the teachings were so rigid that I started to feel like the passion was being sucked out of it. Being forced into the idea that design and art are completely separate and the trade of graphic design is only needed to service clients' visions and never our own wasn't my favorite.
While a lot of what I learned in school was very valuable and true to an extent and I tried my best to not get a little lost along the way.
I think the danger of organized schooling and old design professors is that it can do the opposite of it’s intended effect.
Instead of inspiring a future of creative, experimental, and curious designers, it can breed a bunch of clones who preach this same rhetoric around the internet.
I think the way I discovered design on my own gave me a better perspective and fighting chance from falling into the same stuff most of the designers in my class had to deal with.
The point of this all is I think as designers we NEED personal passion projects to keep our curious side alive.
We need to be able to create for the sake of creating even when no one is telling us to do so. I feel like we should want to get up and create every day, not because it can pay well or a client told us to, but because we can’t imagine doing anything else.
Ever since my later years of college, I have been actively pursuing personal projects and fun creative endeavors on the side to get that same feeling of screenprinting my first shirt in high school or selling the first sticker pack of my shitty old streetwear brand.
In my current practice, these passion projects are what keep me going in between youtube, client work, and whatever other obligations I set up for myself.
This is why I love the internet design space so much, I see so much creativity, acceptance, exploration, and overall passion in a lot of the young designers coming up on Instagram and stuff.
I think we must continue inspiring each other and encouraging people to take risks with passion projects and realizing at the end of the day not everything is about the client.
If you only allow yourself to create when others are dictating it to you then I don't think you will grow to your fullest potential. Lots of the most fun and rewarding client projects I have worked on have come from personal passion projects in the past.
The client was inspired by my personal design explorations farther more than any logo I did for another random business.
Let yourself be the client for once and come up with a fun brief for yourself to do or a side project to work on. If you are already doing that then awesome and if you wanna get started a simple thing you can try out is just start making poster designs and posting them online.
If you wanna see a visual to this newsletter and some more of the actual design process check out the video below
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