Today, we are talking about doing passion projects as a creative outlet. So when Tara suggested this topic, I wasn’t really sure what she meant by ‘passion projects’ to be honest! It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if she was just being rude! But no, she was perfectly serious and when I asked her to explain what she meant by ‘passion projects’, it made perfect sense.
So, a passion project simply means something you do entirely for your own pleasure and not something you start off with the intention of it leading to anything in particular. That doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t lead anywhere, but you don’t do it with that sole intention. It’s purely for the joy.
And one thing I would say, as an artist who sells, and paints in a particular style and subject, I think a passion project can be a way of stretching your creative legs, if you like! Something you don’t have to share with anyone if you don’t want to. A way of just playing, without any end game in mind.
Passion projects encourage creativity without the pressure of deadlines
Passion projects are good for us because they come without the pressure of deadlines or fearing the result. It gives you the chance to do something you have always wanted to try with purpose. By setting yourself the project it provides momentum to create a bit like a creative challenge
Don’t think you need to create everything to sell
It’s really important not to feel that everything you create should be something that will sell. In fact I never do that. I paint the things I love and obviously it’s great when it sells. But if I painted everything with the sole focus being a sale at the end of it, I think it would show in the work. I want everything I paint to be from the heart and not with my only pockets in mind… I think that would spoil the process for me. So I guess you could say that most of my art is a passion project!
Passion projects are a creative outlet if your job doesn’t provide it
Personal projects are a great way to be creative if your job isn’t giving you the creative satisfaction you need. And that includes people in creative jobs. I have done a lot of personal projects over the years as I often found my graphic design job very boring. It tended to e quite repetitive and not projects I would have chosen to work on. Personal projects gave me a chance to stretch myself creatively
But there are artists out there who rely solely on their art to make a living and so for those artists, of course they have no option other than to think about the end game. So for those artists in particular, I think it’s even more important to have another outlet for their creativity that is all about the joy of it, with no pressure of a sale at the end of it.
I suppose it’s like if you were an Art Teacher… That must be quite hard in some ways, because although you’re teaching what you love, you’re not doing it for yourself… your following a curriculum, which is pretty confining I guess… So passion projects are really important for artists who spend the majority of their time teaching, otherwise it would be to easy to spend so much time trying to inspire other people to create art, but as a result, lose that inspiration yourself.
Explore random ideas with your personal project
Personal projects are a great way to explore random ideas that pop into your head. They might have no particular use at all, other than that the idea sounds fun.
And I suppose that’s just what I did when I started drawing Felicity Fizz. Bearing in mind that I’m a realism painter, you wouldn’t think that drawing a silly cartoon would be up my street, because it’s certainly not my usual style and it’s not even something I’m that great at, but it does give me that relief from my usual detailed work. I don’t draw her for anything other than the fun of it! She’s light relief and there’s no pressure.
If I accidentally draw one leg longer than the other, it doesn’t matter! It’s just for fun! But, on the other hand, if I got the perspective of one of my paintings wrong, well then that would be a real problem!
So whereas my paintings take a lot of thought, my cartoons take very little! They’re just fun!
To do something you’ve always wanted to do
A personal project could be to create that illustrated story you have always wanted to do. Unlike a daily challenge you just work on the project when you have time or you could set yourself an end deadline. For example, I worked on a cartoon book about meditation and someone else wrote the main text. I set myself the task of creating a small section of the book each week
Personal projects are similar to challenges but can be less rigid
The beauty of a personal project is that you do it when you fancy.
You don’t feel the pressure of fitting it in if you don’t have time. I must admit, when I put Felicity Fizz on Instagram, I did find myself feeling that pressure to post and of course that feeling of accountability can immediately make it feel more like a challenge than a passion project, but I’m more relaxed about that now. My painting is my priority. My cartoons are something I do and post as and when I feel like it. And I think that’s a very important thing to remember. It’s for you and it’s not about putting it out there and feeling accountable.
Use a passion project to learn something new
Use a personal project to learn how to do something new – for example I wanted to learn how to use 3D software so I set myself the task of designing some watches in it. Learning software with purpose is a lot easier than just following tutorials. For example, imagine you wanted to learn how to use a painting program, you might set yourself a personal project to design a set of greeting cards.
A personal project might lead to something else
So I said earlier that a passion project is solely for fun and not something we do with an end-game in mind. That said, it can potentially lead to unexpected opportunities!
I mean, imagine that the daily telegraph approached me and said that they want me to be their political cartoonist with Felicity Fizz! I mean that is highly unlikely to happen, but that doesn’t mean that kind of thing isn’t possible. So you should never think of those personal projects to be frivolous. Just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean it can’t lead to something.
Personal projects can also be for creating something speculative – so you do it for fun but then pitch it to people. So for example I have had ideas for toys and characters in the past so I have developed them for fun, but then sent them to people.
Create a balance between what you have to do and what fulfils you creatively
If you are a professional artist creating art for a living, just be careful not to lose touch with being creative just for yourself, for the fun of it. After all, you want to remain an artist and not become simply a production line. So try and get a balance between what you have to do and what you want to do.
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This week’s creative question
List 5 words to describe your art
The best answers will be read out on a future podcast.
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