Passion Projects: How to Keep the Fire Burning

For artists and designers who make their living off their craft, burnout is inevitable. Thankfully most burnouts are temporary. But how do you pull through those "dark nights of the artist/designer soul"?

One way to rekindle the fire is the concept of "Passion Projects." A Passion Project is simply a non-commissioned side project, an artist does for themselves, possibly for their portfolio that is just plain FUN.

Many artists/designers at this point may protest, "But I don't have time!"

My response is that for your own sanity, and for the quality of work you want to maintain for your clients, you need to make time.

How to choose a Passion Project for yourself:

  1. Challenge yourself with something you want to learn. In my case I wanted to learn to paint digitally.
  2. Choose something you love no matter how crazy it is. For me, I often do a mash-up of crazies. For my project, I worked from my obsession with the G.I. Joe-A Real American Hero action figure card art of the 1980's and the timeless music of the punk rock band, The Misfits. I'm a huge fan of the Misfits brand as well as their music and absolutely love their "Fiend" mascot.
  3. Take your time. Think marathon, not sprint. Many of my passion projects are accomplished over a period of weeks and even months.
  4. Have fun. There's no pressure here. If it becomes burdensome and stressful, it's probably not a Passion Project. (Unless of course you're just experiencing the growing pains of learning a new medium.) Feel free to put it down for a while and come back to it. In fact sometimes you have to because life gets in the way. But the important thing is that you are staying creatively active and challenged in between client projects.

So there you go. Stay inspired. Stay creative. Stay challenged. Go start a Passion Project.