Art a Day: One Month Down. Why I Started and What I’ve Learned
What is it?
I recently started a project called Art a day and I just finished the first month. The idea is to create a piece of art everyday for a year. The whole point being to make everyday count, to force yourself to create even when you are not in the mood (you aren’t allowed to have a bad day for a year). You will greatly improve at whatever you are doing and it is really easy to track the progress of your improvement. Most people choose to do a photo everyday, but I want to get better at more than just photography. I am primarily a filmmaker so I decided to either create a film, photo, or writing everyday. However, photos are the fastest and easiest to track your progress so the majority of the days have been photos. When I am getting better at photography, I am also getting better at filmmaking so I am content.
Why I started?
In addition to the reasons stated above:
- It helps me overcome my perfectionism. I have a terrible habit of not wanting to be finished with my work until it is perfect. I will edit and tinker on it for ages. Sometimes, I don’t want to go through this so I will simply not do anything. Art a day forces you to let raw, unrefined projects go because a) you can redeem yourself tomorrow and b) you don’t have nearly enough time to make everything nice and polished. I am not creating for a grand audience here. I have discovered that it’s ok to dish out mediocre work every now and then. The important thing is just that I am constantly making something.
- The Gap. In art, there exists a concept known as “the Gap”. Basically, it describes a time when the masses fall off, where artists decide that ‘they aren’t ______ enough’ and they should stop following their dreams. The Gap is the period between being an amateur (someone with a hobby) and a professional (someone making a living off that hobby). People pursue art because they have taste, they have an eye. They have a well defined sense of what they like and don’t like and they try to bring what what they like to life. However, it is never that simple, you need more than taste. Someone may know what films they like, understand how to use cameras, lighting, and editing software, but you can’t learn how to turn your vision into reality, how to make something that only you can make, how to tell a story people will care about. People get discouraged because what they see in their head doesn’t match what they see in front of them. The only way to bridge the gap is through repetition, massive creation. Trying again and again to turn your vision into reality (i.e. the 10,000 Hour Rule), obsessing and repeating every step of the process until the details, the technical aspect of the process becomes second nature. I decided what better way to get out of the gap, to bring my dreams closer to a reality than by creating everyday, improving everyday, slowly pulling myself out of the Gap everyday?
- I have a terrible memory. Sometimes, I try to remember what I did yesterday and I come up completely blank. The majority of my life is a memory and if I can’t remember it then it’s like I’m not fully living, in a sense. With Art a day, I can look at any day for the next year and see what I did that day and where I was. I start to remember what lead up to me creating that day’s art, I remember what I did after I created that day’s art, and pretty soon I’ve pieced together the entire day. It’s like taking a snap shot of everyday of my life for the next year.
What have I learned?
I have successfully completely an entire month and I have learned a lot. For instance:
- Art is hard. It’s really difficult to create something new everyday, to come up with a concept and bring it to life before I lose daylight, my willpower, or the patience of my subject. Sometimes, I want to just take it easy, but it’s like I amm not allowed. Some days, I don’t have any idea and I will just walk around until something strikes me. I’m 1/12 of the way through and I already feel like I’m out of ideas. However…
- I have a lot of ideas. Whenever I feel drained, like all of my ideas are used up, I get somewhat discouraged. I am discovering that my imagination is truly endless. It used to take an entire planned out concept before I would start putting something into action. Now, all I need is something as simple as a subject or a location. It’s impossible to plan out every single aspect of a project in your head. Well… It is possible, but it’s not going to come out like the way you envision. Getting out there in the middle of it, experimenting, taking a second, pondering, letting your mind make connections, given what you see, is a much more effective way for me to work.
- I don’t have nearly as much work to do as I thought. I have an incredibly long to-do list and one of the reasons that it is so long is that a lot of what’s on it has been on it for a LONG time. I am constantly putting off work that I feel I don’t have an idea for or am talented enough to accomplish yet. However, I am discovering that if I use these Art a day’s to get other work done then I can finish these projects much sooner because I actually have to finish these huge projects that day. Afterwards, I realize they aren’t as huge as I thought they were.
- I have started looking at things differently. I am perpetually on the lookout for possible Art a day projects. I am trying to get them out of the way early so that I can relax that day. I start looking at everything on a deeper level. Everything I see is a possible photo or scene from a film in my mind.
My progress. Day 1’s photo (black and white) is followed by Day 30’s photo (color).