Two years making daily art
Since January 1, 2015 I created a visual artwork each day. People often tell me that they could never do that, I think I can’t do without it anymore. It has become something natural, something I just do each day. I never see it as a task that must be done. It’s a way for me to explore, play and relax. But it has not always been easy, especially in the start. In this, my first written blog post, I want to tell you all how it started, how it grew and the future.
I always been interested in programming, when I did my BA in Interaction Design I had courses in openFrameworks, Processing and Arduino. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick at that time. When working in group projects, there were always better programmers. Instead I focused on the visual and interaction design. If I look back, I’m always a bit sad that I didn’t take the time to understand it back then. Two years after my BA, early 2014, I was exploring new ways to create visual design and came across Joshua Davis’ Skillshare class Programming Graphics I: Introduction to Generative Art. This class introduces Processing and the HYPE Framework and makes it easier to create certain generative art easier. I was amazed by the work Joshua Davis created and loved following his class. I was always interested in creating generative art and this gave me the perfect start to create them. A bit before that time, I started to create art and animations with Hexels, a drawing program where you can use different grids to draw art. At the end of 2013 and the first half of 2014, I started posting some of my creations on my Tumblr blog. I didn’t add tags or post it on my Twitter or Facebook. It took me some time to have the courage to post it, because at that time I was afraid and nervous to show anything I have created. In my head I would think “what if someone sees it”, “what if someone doesn’t like it?”, “it’s not good enough”, and all that kind of stuff. Not helpful when you are a freelance designer and kind of need to show stuff to get work.
At the end of August 2014, I decided that it would be a good plan to just try to make something every day for a month. Hoping that it would make it easier to show my work, being less of a perfectionist and trying to get into a flow. So, September came and I created something every day. I don’t know exactly how I felt about it that time. It was hard, that I remember, however I’m lucky that if I set my mind to something, I have the discipline to do it. From October till the end of the year I didn’t continue to make something every day, but there were a lot of days that I did. Slowly it got easier to post my work. I don’t think at that time that I was flabbergasted by my own work. It was more that it was just there.
I liked exploring new ways and I liked combining things. Making shapes with Hexels and programing them randomly on the canvas with HYPE Framework. Sometimes I did something totally different, only used Illustrator for example. I was finding new ways to use my creativity and when I was teaching I had finally something of my own to show when encouraging my students to experiment (maybe also a motivation to start this whole project).
Then there was January 1, 2015. One of the things that gets me excited are new years, new months and new weeks. I didn’t tell myself that I would do this for a year, I just started again and would see when I would be done with it. The first few months I was making animations with Hexels, creating patterns with Hexel shapes and HYPE Framework and in the summer, I started to make animations with Processing. These became my tools to create the artworks and I became more comfortable with my creative process. Clearly you can start to see my obsession with geometry.
Most of the time I don’t have a specific idea of what I’m going to make. Sometimes the thinking starts already in the morning, I ask myself “what do I feel like making today?” I would think about what I have created before, if I could make it different, how I can shape it into new forms. I play around with previous sketches and when I have more time, I would try to learn some new things. Playing with the colour pallets always made me happy.
A few months passed, half a year passed and there was already the end of 2015. I asked myself the question “will I go on in 2016?”. Not for a single day did it feel hard to create something new, the thought of missing a day was harder. I continued.
And of course, I’m happy that I did, because new explorations came. When you look back at the videos of each year, you see in 2015 a lot of white and black backgrounds and then in 2016 it went all colourful.
September 2016 also brought me to London to do an MA. Something that always has been on my mind and I’m happy that all my explorations with coding brought me to do an MA that involves programming. I’m very thankful that phoenix perry encouraged me to come to Goldsmiths University in London and to apply for the MA in Computational Arts.
One thing I’m learning in my MA is openFrameworks. My first encounter with openFrameworks was 6 years ago when I tried to understand it during my BA. I was a bit anxious to learn openFrameworks again, afraid I won’t understand. But all the programming with Processing gave me a good base to understand the basic programming structures. In the end of 2016 I did my daily animations with openFrameworks. It helped me to switch to using openFrameworks to keep reminding myself of how it all works. Exploring something each day is good practice to understand things. Not only coding parts, but also playing with shapes, motion and colours gave me lot of understanding.
You might think that showing my work is easy, that I’m used to it. It’s true that it’s easy to post it online, it had become a routine through doing it each day. My judgement on my work is different than before. I don’t look at it as good or bad, I look at the details, at how the motion feels, how the colours combine and how it is something new. Now, when I look at my work, I’m able to enjoy them with great bliss. Having said that, when I had to show my work the first day of my MA to my other classmates, I was so scared. All the thoughts in my head where there again, “am I good enough?” and “what if they think I make stupid things?”. I still feel scared showing and discussing my work in a presentation, when all eyes are on me.
I didn’t need to question whether or not to go further with my daily art in 2017. I knew I would just go on. Given that in 2015 I was scared to post my work online, now I feel comfortable and I hope 2017 will help me to overcome the fear when presenting my work in person. Learning, growing and being aware of things you can improve is very valuable. I think it’s important to approach creating new things in playful ways, let yourself discover and explore. Then you will grow.
Sometimes it feels that I’m creating the same things, that I don’t try enough new things. Of course, small explorations are better than none. But at the end of 2016 I felt that I was missing something. One thing that is important for me being an Interaction Designer is interaction, plus I wanted to explore more playful interactions. So, this January I started with Play Friday where I make interactive playful artworks with p5.js. Starting something new again always feels weird, because I’m not sure yet if it is good. I can’t judge it in the beginning, because there is nothing to compare. Having a deadline each day does push me to make something without too much judgment, I can review it later.
I expect that this daily thing will go on for some time, I can’t imagine having my life without it. It helps me to stay in my flow of working and exploring. I’m very thankful for all the likes and comments I receive and very grateful to inspire others. It makes me happy to see my work in many places on the internet, because I do believe that the world can never have enough art. So please, all of you, share more of your work, because there will be people that are amazed and inspired by it.
One of my goals this year is to write more blogs, for example how to create certain patterns and animations, where I get my inspirations and more about creative coding. Feel free to let me know if there is something you would like me to write about.
PS, I was scared posting this