Typically, we restrict ourselves to one specific field —the one we “work” at; and fall into a skill set that makes us “set” in our ways. The beauty of side projects is that the project can be completely random and unrelated to anything you do professionally. So, do something you’ve never done or even thought of before and incorporate a completely different style that will put you outside of your comfort zone. This can be a bit overwhelming, having no background in the field you’re jumping into, but any designer can attest to the fact that some of their most brilliant work is a product of their side projects. Don’t hold yourself back with any type of restrictions, remember that it is the requirements and guidelines that slow you down in the business world. This is your chance to fully express yourself and live out your own creative perspective.
As an Industrial Designer with a broad field of design, I am constantly designing different types of products/structures, however, I still love to challenge myself by diving into side projects in areas that are completely out of my range of expertise. Recently, I decided it would be awesome if I could make a few of my own T-shirts and sweatshirts with some designs that I had put together. What I realized was that designing the graphics was the easy part, but then I had to start researching exactly how to transfer my graphics onto the shirts. I was really pleased with the results but it was the process of the creation that really gave me an appreciation of the craft. Here are a few other side projects that may inspire you…
Tina Eisenberg, better known as SwissMiss in the viral world, is a Swiss Designer who moved to New York City. Originally focusing on Interactive design, she started the website swiss-miss.com in 2005 as a personal archive. Five years later, Eisenberg writes for an audience of 900,00 monthly readers about her journey from the Swiss Alps to living the American dream.
Richard Drew, a 22-year-old engineering school drop-out was hired by William Mcknight (Vice President of 3M) to work for 3M. He was assigned to work in the auto body paint shop testing out their new line of sandpaper, however, Drew quickly noticed the painters’ struggles while painting two-toned colors. The tape would either permanently stick to the cars body or allow the paint to seep underneath it. Drew started creating a special painting tape on the side that would solve this problem and in 1925, the infamous “Scotch” masking tape was born.
A side project may not always be one’s big break to fame like Eisenberg and Drew, but that is not the main goal. Branching off in the form of a side project is a great way to try something new and relieve some stress at work. Your boss may not appreciate you working on something else, but if you can find a way to relate your project to your work, you can really impress your employers. After all, that’s how the post-it note came to be.