Personal Projects are Fun!

A few years ago, a couple of friends and myself were dead set on starting a small web & graphic design studio. Like so many in this industry, the urge to be free, wild stallions of creativity was strong. However, due to lack of funds and time to dedicate to the cause, our little pipe dream still remains in dream land as we all continue to work our respective 9-5 gigs. It’s always been my goal to work in a design studio environment so when we first started cooking up this idea I jumped in head first and started doing what I love, designing a website. After many revisions and months of work, I quickly knew this website would never see the light of day as our humble dream sauntered back into dream land and out of our current realities. I refused to leave my website baby out in the cold to suffer from neglect, because I’d grown to love it, so years later, I’m finally getting my bundle of joy coded. For what? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll try to sell the design on Graphic River, maybe I’ll try to create a WordPress theme, maybe I’ll just keep it as a portfolio piece. Who knows. One thing I do know is, I LOVE working on it. I love figuring out new things I can do with HTML/CSS. These coding languages are more versatile than I could have imagined when I first started on this project and I’ve relished every hurdle and roadblock I’ve encountered and overcome. I’ve had my first taste of JQuery while tinkering with this site, and it tasted like rainbows.

Here’s a little preview. It’s a snippet of the footer and part of the portfolio section, which was probably the most challenging part of the whole thing so far. Each step of the process and everything I learned felt like a victory, much like a runners high. I know I still have a lot of work to do before it’s ready for the interwebs, but I look forward to every frustrating and rewarding moment. Unlike client work, I can do whatever I want with it. And that’s the sweetest part of all. Who knows, maybe its true destiny is to be the website for my dream design studio someday.

Who do you want to be?

I just read a great blog post by John Nolan about things he’s learned in his life and it made me think. A lot. I love hearing the genuine insights of others and I ask myself, what do I want to be? As a designer? As a person? As a friend? As a partner? All loaded questions with varying answers that seem to change for me daily. Some days I know exactly who I want to be, some days I have no clue. My answer to these questions are shaped by what I’ve been dealing with that day, who I’ve talked to, what I’ve read, but the common thread I use to stitch together all these ideas is that, I want to do something that matters. I want my work to help a cause I care about. I want to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves. I want my work and my life to matter. I want to feel good about what I’ve done at the end of the day.

 

I need to chill.

I’m EXTREMELY hard on myself in all aspects of my life. I’m self-conscious that I’m never doing enough to better my life and the lives of those around me. I worry about how people perceive me. Do my friends think I’m successful? Do they think I’m lazy? This is what I put myself through daily because I want to be the best person I can, so far I think I’m succeeding.

 

I’ll never be content, I always have to be changing and learning. I’m always looking for the next thing, I love planning for my future but putting my plans into action is terrifying, but when a plan comes together…it’s amazing. As John Nolan writes, there’s nothing I’m supposed to be doing, I just have to keep doing something. That’s a liberating idea!

 

So what am I getting at?

Basically, don’t sweat stuff that doesn’t matter. Do work you enjoy and if you’re not, take comfort in the fact that you can always change jobs and careers. You can always make changes to better who you are once you figure out who that person is. There isn’t one thing you’re supposed to be doing, always be evolving. I’m at a crossroads in my life where there are changes brewing and I’m figuring out who I want to be. It’s an exciting time. Take comfort in the fact that if you feel like you don’t know where to go next with you career or personal life, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Reading posts like John’s, solidifies that we all share the common bond of trying to figure out who we want to be. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint.

Inspiration in Nature

I always say taking a walk can be the best way to draw inspiration. I bet that’s what inspired these guys.

Growing and Learning on the Job

I talk a lot about growth and learning as a creative professional and its importance to our success in the work force, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. I’d love to say that I come home every night after working the 9-5, work on challenging freelance projects, do tutorials and read design blogs until my eyes bleed, but that never happens. I don’t have the energy or time to cram that much into my brain. If you do, awesome, but for the rest of us that aren’t chugging 5-Hour Energy, we have to get our learn on in more practical ways. One easy way to do this is learning on the job.


On the job training is great because A) you’re getting paid to learn and B) you will hopefully have people or a team to learn from as well (and vice verse). Reading books and doing tutorials is great, but I learn best when I’m talking with people and through trial and error. Take on challenging projects and use the real life resources around you. You may not know the answer to a tricky HTML situation, but your coworker might. Learning from your peers is easy and whatever information they have to give you will stick like a Post-It Note in your creative mind. I can read ten blog posts about a topic I’m trying to figure out and still be confused, but if I have a flesh and blood person show me how to do something, I’ll remember it forever.


Conclusion

Ask questions. Use your professional network to progress as a creative individual. I’ll admit, I’ll try and try to figure something out on my own before I ask for help, but in the end it’s the people around me that help me solve problems. Never forget that if you’re having an issue in Photoshop or with some code, chances are a colleague or fellow freelancer probably has too and will be happy to help. Questions are your friend, grasshopper.

Happy Holidays!

 

Holiday penguin says happy holidays!The Holiday Penguin says “Happy Holidays!” Everyone have a safe and happy holiday. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. ;)