Yesterday marked the end of my 100 days of making. As part of #The100DayProject, instigated by artist Elle Luna and The Great Discontent, I committed to a line drawing each day for 100 days from April 5th - July 14th. The result is a body of work, the seeds of ideas, a lovely daily practice and most importantly the realization of the importance of play in my work and in my life.
I will admit that I fell behind constantly and was rarely on track except for maybe the first 30 days. There were days when I knew what I wanted to draw, most days I didn't. There were days when I hated what I drew and other times when I loved it. Days when it was a chore and days when it was a respite. Days when I thought it was stupid and days when it was inspirational. But one thing was for sure, every time I was on track, every time I completed a drawing, good or bad, I felt productive, accomplished and liberated.
I had some very simple goals for the project:
- To give myself permission to draw every day.
- To draw whatever I felt like and not worry about concept or problems or anything of consequence - essentially, to play.
- To complete a personal body of work without the expectation of polish.
- To finish. Working primarily on the web, I crave the idea of finishing something and to have it remain in that state forever.
I accomplished all of them except maybe #2. I say maybe because I did draw whatever I felt like but I found that as the project continued I did worry about consequence. There were days when I worried about the superficiality of what I was drawing. Girls in fashionable clothing, animals in silhouette, a cupcake, an apple. What did it all mean? Where will it lead me? I had to remind myself that it meant nothing, that it doesn't have to mean anything. That the whole point of this project was to make. It was about the act of making, not the final image. It was about drawing for the sake of drawing, playing for the sake of playing.
I'm a designer. I solve problems. That's what I love about design. I approach a problem, I analyze it, I look at it in different ways and I critique every decision. Being analytical and critical is important to design. But I've realized that for me it can also overcomplicate things. It's easy to get lost in all the data, in all the market research, but the best designs are elegant in their simplicity. So the practice of making, of playing each day is essential for me to get out of my head. To be less serious, have fun and let the ideas flow even if they mean nothing. That's what this project allowed me to do.
I hadn't realized when I started just how critical I can be with myself and how serious I can be. That has affected my work, my life and my conviction. Thoughtfulness is important to me. But great design is thoughtful and playful. And what's life without a little playfulness? So thanks to this project I am learning to play, to make, to create without consequence and to get out of my head.
There's a time and place for everything, so when it's time to play, play. Enjoy it and don't overanalyze. And when it's time for work, perhaps some of that play will sneak in and help you get out of your head. After all it takes some playfulness to turn a problem upside down, inside out and back together again.
Though the project has ended, I'm continuing on with my drawings. It is a valuable habit that I'd like to keep. This time I'm going to consciously allow myself to play when I want to and to be thoughtful when I want to, giving each the proper space. If you'd like to follow along, I'm @ivonnekn on Instagram.