5 Things I've Learned from The 100 Day Project

100 Days of Paper Cut Patterns by Bryna Shields

At the beginning of April, the Great Discontent proposed the 100 Day Project, where artists around the world decide on one action to repeat for 100 days, and share it on Instagram. I've seen many artists sing praises about projects like this. Lisa Congdon and Jennifer Orkin-Lewis discussed the benefits of it, and I was finally ready to try it myself. For my project, I've dedicated 100 days to creating patterns from hand painted paper cuts. Today is the halfway mark of the project, so I thought I'd share my discoveries so far.

1. Repeating the same action every day brings your creative tendencies to light. 

Through making patterns every day, I learned all of my compositions were pretty tight, and that I often work in similar color palettes.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, but the discovery encourages new exploration and experimentation. For instance, I've tried working with more loose compositions, and experimented with new color combinations. It's refreshing to step away from your defaults, you never know what magic lies behind it.

2. I stopped fearing the idea of 'imperfect' work.

When you look at the long run of making 100 of anything, I realized it wasn't realistic to expect that every pattern will be amazing. Instead I embraced process more than result, which is something I've always struggled with in the past. It ultimately has made my art practice more enjoyable, and I'm able to stay present in the process.

3. I've stopped over thinking the process.

The urgency of creating one piece every day, amidst an often busy schedule, forces you to trust your own intuition rather than thinking too much about what you're doing. Now, I certainly think there is a place for pieces that are well thought out, but this project has shown me the difference between a complete body of work and the process it takes to get there. This 100 day project is the path to the refined, thought-out body of work.

4. Involving others in the process is energizing.

Sharing this project on Instagram has added an exciting element to the whole process. Some days, I've asked others where they envision my patterns, or shared random insights and lessons. It's empowering to share this, as well as exciting to hear the feedback of others. People have envisioned products for my patterns that I would have never considered; this extra element of surprise makes this project even more fulfilling. It has also shown me how I can connect with an audience in the future, as I consider how to invite others into the process of what I do.

5. I'm learning how to manage my time.

Well, mostly. This project has forced me to look at my days and carve out whatever I can to this act of creation. Certainly time management is something we all grapple with, particularly in an age where more and more tasks are expected of us (art creation! marketing! social media! emails! maybe eating!). The thing is, the more days in a row you complete the action, the less you want to break the streak. It's extremely motivating, and has forced me to look at how I structure my time and consider how I could utilize it more effectively.

Are you participating in the 100 Day Project? If so, leave a comment with your discoveries so far!

Bryna Shields