The 100 Day Project, Part 1
I am one sixth of the way through The 100 Day Project, an online community event (primarily on Instagram) where people pick a thing they’ve wanted to do more of and do it every day for 100 days. Today is Day 17, and I’m still going strong, but I’ve already learned a few things and wanted to share :)
First, I decided almost immediately I was going to need to work with a production schedule. This means, yes I make color work very nearly every day, but often what I post was made the day before. I am making an average of 3 works a day, actually, one of which is really bad. Like, not worth signing my name to, certainly not photograph-able or share-able, and ideally would be destroyed, but I have this obnoxious habit of holding on to bad stuff and thinking I will somehow collage it all into glorious, re-purposed splendor. Perhaps the sheer quantity of work I’m generating will soon encourage me to let go of work that needs let go of, that served out its purpose in simply existing, briefly, as a failed experiment.
At any rate, yes, I am making work every day, but often in the evening. This is the worst possible time to finish work if you’re hoping to utilize natural light to photograph it. So, most mornings now, before work, is when I am photographing. This has solved SO MANY PROBLEMS of mine when it comes to sharing my work digitally; mostly, that I tended to forget to take a picture when I had the work in front of me, or take a picture in bad lighting, and then post the bad picture at midnight when I’m finished with something and so very proud of it, and then feel embarrassed the next day about how bad the picture is but thinking it was even lamer to repost a better photo (do you leave the bad one? delete it and confuse the handful of people who already liked it?). I was trying to shrug it off, but felt trapped in a cycle of mediocrity.
No more, folks! I work at night, I capture pieces I’m happy with in the morning light, and I post between 12:30 pm and 3, universally acknowledged to be the peak traffic time on Instagram, and, for me, a great time to just remember that I am a living, breathing, working artist who is actually making this happen and indeed getting better at both remembering to take photos and taking photos that need less editing to make them acceptable.
I have no great insights into analytics for you, I refuse to convert my account to a business account until I’m really more of a business. Maybe in the future, but for now, that’s not the point. Right now the point is the work, making it, making lots of it, making it better, and sharing it online in a way that I’m proud of and I feel does the work some measure of justice.
A final note on picture taking, besides natural light, besides frankly sleeping on it and seeing how you feel about it in the morning as though the work has just appeared before you, like how everyone else sees it; taking photos in my house means I get to fall in love with weird little details that end up in the backgrounds of my photos. It’s been an unexpected joy to rediscover my own home. But I’m quickly learning that while some background detail can be great, it can easily become distracting, and the best photos of work are photos where you’re not being drawn away from the work and into whatever furry or LEGO-based nonsense is occurring around it. It’s a strange balancing act.
A real surprise for me is how I’m already accumulating so much of my own art, something I thought I was more used to, but this ramped up production has given me this feeling of abundance around the existence of my work. The first 5 days felt like “Oh, I got this!” but it quickly dried up into, “What do I make now?” I imagine this is an ebb and flow sort of cycle will continue over the course of the project, but at the same time, I feel like now that I’m making every day, and most days, I’m making more than one thing I actually want to share, that I want to do it again and again, and only ever have more ideas.
So I’ve been looking to give stuff away. I find myself taking pieces with me to visit people, and mailing things out, something that’s crossed my mind, but is admittedly harder when work feels more scarce. It’s funny, it’s given me a different perspective on Instagram giveaways. It feels very natural right now to just give stuff to anyone who might want it, and so in addition to getting these pieces listed in my Etsy shop (first batch hopefully within the week), making sure of course that I’m getting photos of the work in groups, but then just give some stuff away too. I might try an online giveaway (so stay tuned if you’ve been sitting in the corner, scraping your fork and spoon together like a cartoon creature, thinking giving my art away is exactly the sort of move I’d pull eventually. You, dear friend, are a great judge of character and that patience will pay off before July 10th!)
Another surprise is that this “online community” really does feel like a community. I’ll admit, I don’t like most of what people are making, but if they’re still making, I’m so proud of them. And I do truly LOVE what a lot of people are making, and look forward to seeing their posts. I find myself commenting more, and just generally engaging like I would in person, instead of the typical floating around in silence and likes like a Snapchat ghost. This project takes enough effort that those doing it have a natural camaraderie, and I miss that component of art-making. There’s a faint whiff of art school about it.
Finally, I am starting to think about color in a way that I haven’t in a very long time. I developed a huge mental block about it, and I’m happy to be able to start to glimpse a future me existing on the other side. I’m still fighting the urge to use ALL THE COLORS every time, but I’m really pleased with how the use of multiple colors is revealing some parts of my pattern building process that was lost in the final work when that final work was done all in one color. I’m still leaning HEAVILY on a plain white background, so maybe I’ll play with that more.
But maybe not. And here’s why I’m calling this post Part 1: I’m certain as the project goes on, I’ll learn more. And as I do, I’ll share it with you!