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Art, Illustration, Journal

Personal Projects and Why They’re Necessary

By Rachel George · 20th March 2017


Personal Projects & Why They’re Necessary

I remember the entire reason I started pursuing Illustration/Art/Design as a career. I spent countless hours in my own bubble either drawing, or gluing stuff together, or just ‘making’ something.

And I enjoyed it. It was fun.

Now I’m actually making a career out of illustration, things are a bit more serious than sitting on my Nan’s living room floor gluing toilet paper tubes together to make a ‘castle’ and then painting them in whatever leftover decorating paint she had – when I got really good at gluing things, I got to paint them with the piles and piles of paints I was bought for Xmas, and my birthday, and practically every occasion.

Thanks, supportive family and friends!

Anyway, I have, in the past, fallen into the trap of doing nothing but client work, because money is important, you need it to do mundane things like, afford to live.

I’m side-eyeing you ‘Work for Exposure’ people.


Space Dude I’m currently chipping away at.

After 12 months of doing nothing but client work, back-to-back, not taking a single moment to work on something just for the sake of ‘making art’, it had quite a negative impact on me. Very little enthusiasm in my work, and my job didn’t feel fun anymore.

And I LOVE my job (it says so right on my twitter profile) but doing nothing but work, day in and day out and not taking any time for yourself is going to run even the most hardcore of work-a-holics into the ground.

I came across this article on Creative Bloq: Why You Must Make Time for Personal Projects It talks about the “20% time” policy, employed by Google, (Which you can read about here, if you’re interested)


But the general rundown is;

1: It Helps With Motivation

Taking just 20% of your usual work time to work on a personal project – which honestly can be something as small as a few doodles a week – can help keep you motivated and helps with breaking up long periods of professional work. Nearly everyone thinks a ducky in wellington boots is adorable, but sometimes when you’ve drawn 50 of them, you really wanna draw a big ass dragon hoarding some gold, or a werewolf mauling some poor unfortunate soul to death.

Urban Werewolf Snapshot

Urban Werewolf, post mauling

Or maybe a bunch of Zelda fanart because you’ve picked up your old Gameboy Advance and you’re obsessed with The Minish Cap, again.

And there is merit in drawing fanart, but that’s for another blog post.

2. It Helps Pad your Portfolio

I did a rundown of my own portfolio a few months back (blog post here) and found I was lacking in some areas, areas that my current client work weren’t covering at the time, scifi and space stuff mostly.

Personal Projects are a good opportunity to pad your portfolio/boost areas that are lacking.

Want a gig drawing dragons? You should probably draw some dragons

3. It Helps with Your Mental Health

As I mentioned above, going 12 months without a break from client work ran me down, and eventually I found little enjoyment in my work. My mental health undoubtedly suffered and honestly I got a bit ill, I started feeling a sense of dread when I thought about going back to work, and I was tired all the time.

Not good, to say the least.


Illustration Friday also covered The Importance of Personal Projects citing Freedom of Expression and an Alternative source of income as some of the reasons to make time for them.


4. It’s Fun!

That’s the main thing right? What got me into this in the first place, having fun ‘making’ things. My Personal Projects range from doodling random figure drawings to keep ontop of my anatomy practice – sometimes I have long bouts of not drawing many people for my professional work – to painting self indulgent stuff like Werewolves and Space-y things and big big Dragons!
And also some video game fanart. Because I can and it’s fun, and that’s the important thing.

Zelda Bomb Bag Doodle

Zelda Bomb Bag Doodle for funzies

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