This is the first post of 2023 and only the second post on this blog. It is a very brief retrospective of 2022 and an attempt to establish some goals for 2023 based on what I learned during 2022. On the first part I’ll use as a case study a project that I started last year, erripis daily and I will follow on with some general conclusions.
I started erripis daily last year, I made all the necessary accounts and preparations around December 2021 so it started at the very neat date of January 1st, 2022. It’s a simple (not even very original) idea of creating an image from scratch every day and publish it here and on other social media accounts. You can see all the daily published images (currently on the 8th day of 2023, and the 373rd overall), and you can read some more detailed description about the rules here. You can also read the background for this project on this extensive blog post written just before it started.
So, what have I learned after posting more than 370 images (it is still ongoing!)?
The biggest takeaway is commitment, it may sound obvious, but the biggest lesson is that if you commit to something you can follow through, every day. Of course, you must design the project accordingly, in this case, the image could be as elaborate or as simple as I could afford each day, some images took literally a few minutes (ironically some of my bests are made like that), others even a couple of hours. But even a couple of minutes are substantially more than nothing. The act is what counts and even the smallest act is infinitely more important than no act at all.
The second lesson is something I’ve written about in the past, the challenge to overcome the fear of publishing any kind of work fearing that it may spoil the opinion others have about you.
The core of my professional work is design and even if this project is not related to my work, there’s always the fear that the occasional bad post (and they were many) could reflect upon my professional image. This is an additional level of impostor syndrome or another case of mirror mask (explained here).
What I learned after this year is a reaffirmation that this fear is largely unbased or completely fictional. The feedback I got, was in general very positive, and even if the actual work in total wasn’t up to my ideal standards it was above what everyone would have considered me capable of doing.
If I was to summarize this to one phrase :
People consider you at best, as good as the work you publish, none assumes that you are better.
There’s should be no fear that publishing your work may spoil whatever perception of you people may already have. They either have no idea what you can do, don’t care, or have a lesser opinion for your skills. You can always curate and optimize what, how and when you publish something but the fear of spoiling the supposedly good image that others assumed for you is unbased.
Something else verified from this project is the notion that perfectionism is usually covered procrastination. The daily schedule forced me to publish every day something and most days I wasn’t happy with the result. If this wasn’t enforced, I would have published less than half of the images (not necessarily the best ones) and it’s quite possible that I would have quit after a few months. The distance between postponing something for a day or forever is very close. Taking this a bit further one can say that by enforcing a consistent delivery, for a given timeframe you have better quality through quantity. I consider this quite interesting and I plan to elaborate on this on a future post.
Most of the images were hand drawn with little editing either in photoshop or photoshop express. Through the daily practice I can see that my drawing skills were substantially improved, even if the sketches were inconsistent and not planned for this purpose. In practice I feel that I can draw practically anything, not necessarily with a beautiful result but to the level that any idea is clear enough to me and to others.
I also reached the limitations of the means I have available. I used some basic color pencils , a few pens and fluo markers. The biggest revelation was the use of Bic crystal pens that I never liked before. I can’t say that they’re my favorite pen, but they’re up there with some pilot pens that I use for decades. A couple of professional markers were also extremely useful. However, I reached a point that I should either invest to a lot of regular equipment (mostly pro markers) or even better, on a tablet with a pen or digitizer. I believe that for my way of working the latter must be the best option. I also made some fully digital images and some 3d modelling and renders. But a digital sketch is probably the way to go.
I was pleasantly surprised from the feedback I got, some friends are following this project almost every day, and my parents being the truly unbiased fans that they are, expect every day to see the daily image, like watching a sitcom and expecting every day a new episode! It’s also a bit nostalgic because some of the most avid followers are classmates that during our school years they were very encouraging about the silly drawings I was doing back then. In total something I wasn’t expecting is that this project allowed me to reconnect at some level with old friends and relatives.
I am a bit disappointed on how instagram (my main platform for this) is treating my posts. That’s probably the case now, the exposure algorithm is brutal with new accounts and my content is very inconsistent so even if someone likes one post I made, there’s no guarantee that they will like the next one or any other. That’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make, I don’t want to create images in order to attract views and followers, it will dilute the purpose, but I hope the reach was a big larger.
Something else I noticed about me is some emerging themes, most days I don’t have anything in mind, I try to find the subject when start drawing. Some images are inspired by random daily events but many are random so it’s quite interesting to observe in retrospective some emerging themes. For example, two prominent ones are spaceplanes and off-road campers.
Taking the daily project as inspiration and maybe as an excuse here are some personal new year resolutions for 2023.
Following on what I mentioned above for the emerging themes, one of my main personal objectives for this year is to focus more on engineering. This is a bit vague; I hope on a similar post next year to have more things to say and show.
I’m also adding a second timebound commitment, I plan to write a blog post every week. This may be published to any of the platforms I have, not necessarily here and it can be either written or some other medium, video or audio. One post per week is the minimum, I plan to do more but this is the baseline. This is the first one and it’s a day overdue, not a perfect start!
Somehow related to the above, I plan to publish more case studies, blog posts and content in general about my work. I made some steps last year but I should be more productive and more consistent.
The final new year resolution is to enjoy sports and nature more. One of the biggest revelations of 2022 is my participation on an amateur basketball league. It’s a great opportunity but apart from trying to be better at basketball I plan to be more active on the activities I always liked, like cycling and trekking. These activities will also find their way as content through some projects I have on the pipeline.
That’s it for the first post of the new year, this was a bit self-referential but as with my daily project, the next one will probably be something completely different!
Happy new year!