100 days of design: I’m half way through.
I challenged myself to make one design everyday for a hundred days and upload them to my Instagram profile. It has been 50 days and I myself am amazed how far I’ve gotten. This article serves two purposes. The first is a selfish one. I believe this will help me relive this whole fifty-day creative phase sometime later in life. Second, I hope it provides some insights to anyone who wants to pick up something new.
Why did I take it up?
While working both on client projects and personal projects, there were numerous instances where I needed some design elements that would fit perfectly into the content I was creating. I ended up wasting several hours searching for the right design, in the right format, in the right resolution, and without watermarks. I have somehow managed without learning design for two years but I would be lying if I said graphic designers didn’t intimidate me (then). Despite knowing that it was an essential skill I would need, I kept postponing learning it.
Around this time I read one of Tiantian Xu’s article on how she picks up new skills by taking up a 100 day challenge each time. No, this didn’t trigger me immediately to start my challenge but it was at the back of my head for a while. A month later, on October 10th 2018, I created a new Instagram account and declared to all my zero followers that I’d be uploading one design per day for 100 days. Though I knew I would be facing some tight schedules and demanding deadlines in the days to follow, I just went ahead without overthinking (and I thank myself for that).
Starting it off
The first day was, to date my most difficult one. I wanted to draw a book in an isometric view on the new software Adobe Illustrator, and there were two areas I overestimated myself in.
First, I thought Adobe Illustrator would be pretty intuitive as I already knew more complex tools like Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere Pro.
Second, I thought drawing isometric views would be a breeze, given that I had performed quite well in all the 3D modeling courses as part of my college curriculum (those were the only ones I did well, by the way).
As I sat down to bring my book to life, I found myself questioning my self-worth at a grand scale. It was hard for me to believe that I was not as good as I had hoped I would be. After a few hours of tutorials I finally settled with this simple ugly block.
The first day’s experience humbled me. I realized I had a long way to go. So it was clear. I had to start from scratch.
I knew this was a marathon and not a sprint. If I had to do this for 100 days I had to limit the time I would spend on it per day and decided to cap it to two hours. I made sure I didn’t spend an extra minute thinking about this during the rest of the day. The entire workflow— brainstorming, sketching, digital drawing, iterating and uploading, had to be completed in two hours.
Everyday, I would open my laptop, launch Illustrator and just look around for something to draw. As I usually sit in the library almost all day, the objects remained quite static. If I found something, well and good. If not, I would do a basic google search for “cool illustrations,” scout for an interesting one, capture it on my phone, place it against the screen and start recreating it.
There were many days where I started off with a drawing but couldn’t complete it due to lack of time/knowledge. So these unfinished designs went into the Backup Designs folder, and I would start afresh with a simpler task.
Don’t create, document!
I didn’t want to this to be a place where I uploaded my best work. Documenting the progress was the aim. I wanted my audience to witness my development. If I learn’t something while working on that particular day’s design and even though it turned out to be mediocre, I would upload it. This isometric view of the GoPro took me more than 4 hours (yes, an exception!). However, I learnt making curved surfaces in isometry, how to shade them and located some areas I had to improve. So that was a win for that day. Uploaded!
Exceptions are when I find that my trials have been worthless in terms of learning something new. But I always make it a point to try my level best in reworking those ideas.
The supportive community
I’ve received helpful feedback in the form of comments and DMs. A majority from my close friends and family and some from people I’ve never known before. Shaivya, an amazing illustrator with over 4 years of professional experience, saw me struggling with Isometric Drawings and offered to help me out voluntarily. For a novice like me, those snippets of advice, not only in design but also in career, were of great help. Do check out her brilliant work.
How difficult was it?
I won’t overstate it. This whole process was only moderately difficult with occasional crests and troughs.
There were good days when I had the time and enthusiasm to finish that day’s design, and there were challenging days when I had back to back exams all day, came back to my room late night and worked on the designs with my brain and eyes shutting down. A major takeaway for me was detaching myself from that day’s events, keeping my head down and designing with no excuses.
It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day — that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.
- Bojack Horseman
I’ve tried to commit myself to a lot of activities previously like fitness, newspaper-reading, diet, a healthy sleep cycle, academics, etc. but I always kept falling out. I used to be intimidated by people who could stick to their commitments and thought I would never be able to pull it off.
Now that I look back, I can see that I was being stupid by letting such a belief tamper with my confidence. Not that I’m in some super zen mode now. My point is, once we find something that really interests us, we would commit to it anyway. So it might not always be a smart thing to gauge our self-worth based on activities taken up because we were told they are productive.
After 50 days, I’m at the stage where I’m very comfortable recreating stuff, creating some of my own and I’m not afraid to explore new avenues. In no way am I claiming that I’m a great designer, but I like to believe I’m on my way.
I would have delayed learning graphic design by a few more months if I hadn’t taken up this challenge. I’ve been extremely occupied for the past few months working on some other stuff, but I found myself making time for this every day. That statement might stink of narcissism, but there is a point to it. I feel it’s better to take up these challenges and then figure out stuff on the go rather than waiting for things to settle so we can start.
All this being said, there might come a day where I will have to break the streak. That’s okay. Though I’m serious about this, I wont take it too harsh on myself for skipping a day or two.
I’m having a lot of fun doing this and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Looking forward to the next 50.
You can find me here
Always up for small talk. Hit me up on any of the platforms. If you’re an e-mail person, I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.