Lessons Learned: Project 365

Not long after ringing in the New Year, just past midnight, on what was January 1, 2014, I started a project with the following pencil sketch...

This project just popped into my head and I proposed to myself that I would create 365 visual projects for the year 2014. Ideally, a project would be completed every day. It didn't matter what medium or how good or bad the project turned out. The goal was just to do it.

Like Frederick Franck's 5th commandment, "You shall not draw with exhibitions in mind, nor to please any critic but yourself", each project had no audience in mind. Many projects were inspired from current events, news, articles, tweets, and things my friends said or did. Some were, shall I say, "uninspired", yet others were filled with passion and creativity.

"Can of Unknown" is some sort of mystery food from a video game that my friends play online.

There were days that I wanted to quit. Just like most human beings, I might feel overwhelmed, bored or tired. Some days I wondered what I was thinking on January 1st so early in the morning (affected by lack of sleep more than champagne). Then there were days where I was brimming with ideas and creativity, or inspiration inexplicably coursed through my veins. On those days, I might catch up on a week's worth of creative pieces or get ahead of the project entirely.

I'll admit, a few of the projects were design ideas or illustrations that my clients rejected. Being their creator, I had grown fond of them and thought they deserved a life elsewhere, so I went ahead and allowed them to develop. I often thought, if nothing else, it was good practice.


In the end, I have a project that no one really cares about, but me...a body of work... 365 images, designs, digital and ink illustrations, pencil drawings, and photographs. They are all mine and I made them. They prove to me that I can accomplish something, that I can stick with something (for better or worse) and in the process, learn from my mistakes, improve and learn. I have most certainly honed my skills in planning, design, composition, color, and execution. My knowledge of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop have grown immensely. By posting many of these projects to social media, I've learned about who "likes" what and where. I've learned about hashtags and I've seen a keen interest in people wanting to get back to the basics (pencils, pens and paintbrushes, rather than pixels and vectors).

Would I recommend such a project? Most definitely! I believe in pushing yourself to see how far you can go. Just like when I'm out riding my bicycle and I hit 15 miles with 10 more left to get home. The thought occurs to me to quit, rest, hitch a ride, but I just can't. I just won't give up (even though, sometimes I probably should).

In the past 6 years I've ridden half of century (50 miles) twice. I've reached the point of exhaustion and feeling like I just couldn't keep going (particularly on the Hilly Hundred), but in the end, it's all worth the endurance (and the hot shower) for there is a certain joy that comes with knowing you can take something on and see it through.