Happy New Year! Now, I’m not big on huge, sweeping resolutions when January rolls around, but just maybe this is the year to try a daily project to get better bit by bit. Here are a few reasons why:
Short projects remove the fear of posting your work for others to see. It can be hard to show your work to your peers, especially early on. But with a new project everyday, you have the freedom to post and move on. That giant six month project can be fun, but not when it comes to learning fast and trying out new techniques. Especially for a beginner, aim for small projects that give you the freedom to fail often and learn fast.
Daily projects get you accustomed to deadlines. Deadlines are what force you to finish work. They keep you on schedule and give you a hard deadline to deliver your work to the world. With a long project, work can flounder and it’s easy to wait until the last minute to make big decisions. Instead, make every day the last minute. It won’t always be a work of art (it can’t), but delivering small projects every day will build a HABIT of creativity. Deadlines are a part of every project that matters. Might as well get used to delivering work now.
Learn faster by asking for feedback often. Honest feedback from your peers can be hard to get. Most people want to be nice and tell you, “It’s good”. That is death for creative work. Make one thing every few months and it’s, “That’s nice” from everyone. Make one thing a day and suddenly people are more willing to give you their honest opinion, and that’s more helpful to you. How is that? Well, It’s much more useful to receive feedback on short projects because you can use the critique right away on the next piece. Also, it’s easier for your viewers to give you feedback because this isn’t your life’s work. You have more work coming tomorrow, and people giving feedback know they can be honest without killing your baby. “I don’t like the color choices,” or “The lighting is to dark,” is much easier to hear when you only spent a day on it, and when you have something to apply that knowledge to tomorrow. Side note: Don’t let your friends say only nice things about your work. A “nice” comment doesn’t help anybody. Cultivate or even demand constructive criticism, and don’t defend yourself when you get a rough critique. Say thanks, write it down, and get better next time.
Daily projects allow you to try something different every day. Building your taste and your style takes a lot of experimentation. With daily projects, you get to hone your style and interests bit by bit instead of burning out one technique on one huge project. This is HUGE early on or if you have a job that isn’t as creative as you would like. If you want to try a new piece of software or plugin, download the demo and make your daily project with it. Same goes for new techniques, and design ideas. Your interests don’t have to wait if you have a daily way to try them.
You will end up with a TON of new work to choose from to show off in your portfolio. They won’t all be masterpieces, but you will be surprised on how much great work you will have 365 pieces later. The bonus? You will see your work getting better. This was HUGE for me. I posted a photo a day for over three years and became WAY better at photography than when I started. Daily practice is recommended with anything. Even if it’s a little bit. Work every day at what you want to get better, and you will see results.
Here are some other daily and weekly projects to check out to get some ideas.
It’s easy to get started. Make a tumblr blog or start a page on facebook. Then, post your work every day and ask for feedback. Don’t miss a day. Here are some good rules for a one-a-day photo project, but the ideas will work with any daily project. Post your page in the comments and ASK for feedback. Tutorials and learning is always a good idea, but only by making your own work (and your own mistakes) will you actually learn how you really work, and find your true style.