About a year ago I read an article about personal growth, and soon following that I read an article from the AIGA newsletter. Remembered it again today, for some reason… so maybe it’s too good not to share.
"Like movie stars say, 'you do one for them and then you do one for yourself.'
I learned the design world can operate in similar ways. Now, I constantly strive to make time to do self-authored projects that stimulate me in ways that client work can't, and I strive to make my client work as fun and satisfying as my self-authored work. This balance helps me communicate ideas to an audience in fresh and provocative ways while also creating something that's digestible and simple."
I've always had this mentality and I've been doing projects on my own, for fun, for as long as I can remember. While I was in school, before I had a job, and while working full time—I've always tried to make time for 'fun' work. I admit that some of these fun projects aren't very good, especially the earlier stuff, but it's about experimenting. It's part of growing as a designer which of course affects the work you do for real clients. These fun projects also help to keep you inspired. There will always be jobs you're less excited about but you have to do them anyway. If you've got a self-authored project or two on the go stimulating you, it makes the process and being a creative a whole lot better.
And of course, one thing feeds off another when we’re talking about getting better at what you do.