Last year, I set myself the goal of posting a new drawing every single day of 2017. It sounded simple enough. I'll create space every single day to work on improving my lettering and to get into the habit of working on personal projects along side the rest of my work and social life. Here are some things I learned over the last year:
Make the commitment. I knew I wanted to improve my lettering and the only SURE fire way to improve is to make a commitment to doing it... a lot. How do you find the time? Life gets in the way. There's always fun things to do, family things happen, or you know.. I could just watch Game of Thrones again. If I wanted to get better, I couldn't only do it when I felt like it or felt inspired. How was I going to find the motivation to get better?
My solution was to take this challenge on and TELL people about it. So on January 1st, I said I was going to draw every day. I know it was self imposed, I totally could have bailed on it because it wasn't like I was shackled to my desk. BUT after I put it out there, it would have been a little embarrassing and I would have felt disappointed in myself if I said it and didn't follow through. And it worked! On every post I posted the number I was on and it was super satisfying watching those numbers increase as time went on. And now at the end of it, I am continuing drawing almost every day.
Drawing every day is hard. It sounded so easy! I'll just draw something and post it. But oh boy. The hardest part over all was forcing myself to draw, even when I was tired, exhausted or just flat out didn't feel like it. I even told myself, even if it was a doodle that took 5 minutes because that's all the time I had that day, then you succeeded for that day. The point wasn't to create something magical every day. The point was progression and habit creation.
There were nights where I had to work during the day and had an event at night where I didn't get home until after midnight and I was forcing myself to draw that day. I started to resent drawing and this whole project. I soon realized that I didn't have to torture myself. If I knew that I was going to be unavailable to spend time drawing one day, I would draw two the day before or just plan a little better. Or if I had the space to spend a whole day drawing, then I would draw something for a day I knew I was going to be on an airplane or something. I loosened up a little but made sure I still put the work in at some point.
In terms of deciding what to draw, the last year of drawing almost became a visual diary. My lettering would usually would be about something I was feeling that day, what's been on my mind, a song I was listening to or anything really. Obviously there were times where I would stare at a blank piece of paper and just nothing would come. I wouldn't labor over it, usually because time was limited and I had a whole alphabet in my arsenal. I probably drew too many ampersands, but whatever, it was my project and I like ampersands. Challenges were also helpful prompts!
Switch up your medium. Whenever I got into a creative slump, the easiest thing for me to do to get reinspired was to switch to another medium. I did a lot of digital drawing because it was quicker and really convenient but I went through a phase of just not touching my iPad and computer. Some other mediums I played with were water color, gouache, chalk markers, brush pens and just the good ol' sharpie.
Explore different styles and different points of reference. As I drew everyday, I got the chance to experiment A LOT. Drawing in the same style every day would have been incredibly boring AND unhelpful. I would definitely still consider myself new-er to lettering. I've dabbled in it over the last few years but only have been taking it a little more seriously over the last two years. I tried a whole spectrum of different styles, referencing different Skillshare classes, vintage type, lettering books, graphic design history books and of course other amazing artists that I found online. All this experimentation to help me find what I like to do and parse through all of this trial and error to help me find my own voice. I definitely feel like this is still a work in progress but I'm starting to get a feel for what I like and don't like. My library of lettering books and reference material keeps growing and I'm excited to see what else I can try and incorporate into my own work.
- I'm excited to spend more time drawing. Another thing that was difficult was trying to put something new out every day. Because this year wasn't about creating perfection, I moved on to something new almost every day. Sometimes I would revisit things or post something in progress, but over all I felt like I didn't have the time to REALLY sit with something. Now that I've gotten this experiment out of me, I'm super pumped to spend more time on ONE piece. To some level, I was still able to iterate, make tweaks before posting but not really. But I kind of had to throw the perfectionist out the window or I would never deem something good enough to post. But I know that laboring over 1 thing wouldn't help me at this point of my lettering journey. My process would usually be just 2-5 thumbnail sketches and then going for it. I'm really excited to really work on fine tuning things and really. I guess I also learned to shut that perfectionist part of my brain out that would stop me from moving on.
All of that being said, I absolutely LOVED this little experiment. I feel like I grew a lot. There's a lot more work that needs to be put in but I feel so good that I accomplished this goal. It was definitely hard at some points but totally worth it. If you're interested in the project, I defintely would recommend it! If you're not sure if you can commit to it, then try some smaller goals like posting every other day, posting every day for a month, or a 100 day challenge.