A designer needs to create
‘It may be going nowhere, but what a ride!’ - Why it’s so important to try something new.
Almost instinctively, we need to try new things. Always. It’s what drives us, shapes us and in most cases it keeps us sane. When your day to day consists of research, exploring, watching and learning its no wonder that we get ideas of our own, and lots of them. We must never stop, its a release, it teaches us, it makes us happy and - most importantly of all - it keeps us out of trouble. No matter what the reason(s) it’s this thirst for something extra, something more, that makes every designer unique. Love us or hate us theres something that can be said for our need to create.
‘We learn from failure, not from success’ - Bram Stoker, Dracula. This quote for me, best sums up why trying something new is so important for designers. Above all else, creating and trying new things is what makes us the best that we can be. We need to make mistakes so that we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and then do it all again. But better. And what better way to do this than by working on our own personal projects.
Why are personal projects so important?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to work on personal projects, not for money or for recognition but for the love of creating. I’ve been a big believer ever since school/university that as a designer/creative, working on our own projects, in our own time is one of the most important things we can do in our careers. It’s our chance to make our own rules, create our own briefs and make our own decisions. All of this whilst working to absolutely no time (or client) restraints! There is no better way to try something new or explore an idea and see where it takes you. The beauty of personal projects is that you are in control. Based on my (and other designers/creatives I know and have worked with) experience(s) the skills and knowledge that can come out of doing something for yourself is immeasurable. Not to mention the opportunities it can create. Exploration is essential for the discovery of new things, and as designers we embrace this ethos.
It is worth at this stage, that I share with you a creative/designer that I have followed closely for a number of years, ever since seeing him speak at BLAB Manchester. Gavin Strange (some of you might know him as Jam Factory), Senior designer at Aardman. I was first introduced the the work of Gavin Strange whilst attending one of his talks in Manchester, his energy was infectious, his enthusiasm the same. His philosophy; ‘Jack of all trades, master of flip all’. He says he gets lots of ideas, they get him excited, so he gives them a go to see what happens. Simple. He works on so many side-projects it’s hard to keep up and each one of them is a new adventure for him and is always a labour of love. A great example of his personal work and one that stuck with me is BÖIKZMÖIND.
“BÖIKZMÖIND started life in 2008, originally just as a 10 minute short that was going to be submitted to the BFF (Bicycle Film Festival) but instead of capping it at 10 minutes, that filming continued on as the Bristol scene started to grow. In a short space of time the number of fixed gear riders had risen from a handful to a small army.”
Having never created a short film before it was new territory, but Gavin gave it a go. And what started off as a new challenge about a passion for cycling soon escalated into numerous (cycling-based) events throughout Bristol including, film nights, hill climbs and everything in-between. Even a night ride to the chip shop and back - See ‘Fixed n’ chips’ (this evolved into it’s own MASSIVE event too). Soon BÖIKZMÖIND grew into something bigger, Gavin met loads of new people, created a full brand identity, made merchandise to sell for cycling charities and finally ended up creating a 30 minute documentary about fixed gear cycling featuring interviews from a range of people across the cycling community in Bristol. The documentary was eventually screened at venues throughout Bristol and was a palpable hit. And all of this because he fancied trying something new.
This attitude to personal projects is what inspires me and is a shining example of what’s possible if we just ‘give it a go’. You never know what might happen, who you might meet or what you might learn from exploring your own ideas. That’s a pretty exciting prospect for us designers. Projects like BÖIKZMÖIND just go to show how personal projects can influence your personal development, your career and you as a person. And with technology constantly evolving, techniques changing and other exciting new projects surfacing everyday, it has never been more important to keep pushing ourselves to try new things. You never know when a skill or project might come in handy but at least you will be able to say ‘I can do that’. If you can’t, then add it to your to-do list and give it a go later.
So let’s all take a deep breath, gather our thoughts and create something. You never know where it could lead you. It may be going nowhere, but what a ride!
By Ryan Meikle, Designer