What are the rules?

The original title of this post was “What Is Circadian Creative?” As I started writing I realized I needed to clarify some of my rules and intentions both to my audience as well as myself. So here they are, the rules and intentions. They are quite simple really, just how I like everything in life, and design.

As I contemplated the concept of a daily design challenge so many things went through my mind. Things like “this would be so awesome to do!” and then there were things like “oh man, that would be so hard to do – to come up with a different design every single day for one year.” After processing most of these thoughts and feelings I eventually got down to the nitty gritty of my situation. Like I’ve said before, it’s taken me since late December to get to this point. I am glad I have decided to take on the challenge. I respect both how cool it will be, as well as how difficult it will be. It can only benefit me in the long run. After all, what has not killed me in the past has only made me strong enough to take on this challenge. So, with that being said, I am as ready as I’ll ever be to get on with this thing.

So, what are the rules? The good thing about this challenge for me is this – there are no rules. The only real rule is that the participant must create something every day. This is difficult enough. And the idea is this, if one can commit to doing this on even the most basic level each day it will keep that person sharp and creative enough to meet any challenge in his or her professional life. It will teach that person to deal with creative block and other common afflictions suffered by creatives.

So, what are my rules? Well, they are the same. I will attempt to create something every single day for 365 days. I will post that thing to the world, here on the Circadian Creative blog. I will attempt to not deviate from that, but I will tell you this; there will be times when I cannot design something every day. For example some days I will be out of town, even with a laptop at my side most of the time I may not be able to steal away and create something. There will also be days when I create more than one thing and will be compelled to save the surplus design(s) for a future post. For example, I have a few designs that were predecessors to the banner designed at the top of this page and I really want to share them and talk about them. They will be posted, perhaps in the first few days of April. So, I guess the rule that I will follow is that I will post something everyday. Most of my posts will be created the day of, but some may be leftovers or extras from a previous day’s antics.

I will also attempt to describe each piece that is posted each day. Doing this will be excellent documentation for me on how my process currently exists and how it might develop and improve as a result of this project. It will also give you the reader an explanation of what you are looking at each day and help to channel constructive commentary from you if you so choose to share. I do want feedback on the posts too. Hopefully, I will attract some seasoned designers to critique the things I am doing here, but I want non-designers to comment as well. It helps to hear why a certain image works or does not work from the perspective of someone who is not involved in all the ins and outs of design.

Finally, don’t expect crazy, elaborate finished products. I will be doing some very basic stuff sometimes. I may try to recreate some assignments from my advertising design classes (boring, but educational for me). I might experiment with the most basic concepts and some days you may see some stuff like a red circle on a black field. Or two colors overlapping to create a third color. This is not only a challenge for me to create something ever day, it is a challenge for me to go back to the basics and relearn some things that may have eluded me over the years. Like I said before, I will try to provide commentary and explanations for every post to help you figure out where I’m coming from.

So those are my rules and what you can expect. The answer to “What is Circadian Creative?” may best be saved for another post in a few days or perhaps incorporated into one of my early design commentaries.

See you all again in a few days!

Facing the challenge.

Many artists and design professionals from graphic designers to comic book artists have been maintaining and exercising their creativity and skills by taking on a challenge to create or design something on a daily basis. This type of activity keeps an individual on their game. After all, the phrase “use it or lose it” holds quite a bit of truth no matter what skill sets you are referring to. In the creative professional arena, there are also residual benefits. I can’t imagine that having a wealth of mini-designs as a resource for inspiration on more serious projects could be a bad thing. Or, just the practice achieved from experimentation would allow you to have more resources up your sleeve when you needed to act quickly on a more serious creative challenge, like with a paying customer.

This daily design phenomenon is increasing in popularity in the creative community. I became concerned about my capabilities as a design professional this past autumn. At that time I began a personal, and on-going, re-exploration of design by reading articles and viewing portfolios of other designers. By the time the end of 2009 rolled around I had gained a better understanding of the stagnation I’ve allowed to occur within myself. My skills and my creativity have deteriorated over the last 3 or 4 years. No problem. It happens to everyone at some point and I am determined to get it all back and get better in the process.

One thing I noticed in my end of 2009 research was that the blog mentality is crazy popular. My research inspired me to start 2010 with a blog of my own as well as a New Year’s resolution to reclaim my profession. And I have been actively “keeping current” by reading other design blogs and paying attention to what others are doing. In all of this I have not attempted my own design activities or practice. I’ve just been takin’ it all in. Again – no problem. You can’t rush creativity. It is what it is and it arrives when it wants. On an adjacent note, my activity in other creative endeavors has begun to blossom. I have been thinking and writing more, I have brushed the dust off of my SLR camera and taken it out of Automatic mode. I am also a bonsai enthusiast and I have not felt so enthusiastic about my trees in over ten years! Growing season 2010 has new meaning, not only for my little trees, but also for Seán the photographer, writer and very soon the graphic designer.

As part of my New Years resolution to take back my profession I have decided that the daily design model will be a good practice for me. The daily design challenge is not a challenge to create something great. The challenge is to face your creative process daily and let it exist. The challenge is to nurture and learn more from the creative process. In my research I have realized that this is where I have gone wrong in the past few years. This is why I feel I have been in the creative doldrums. Challenging myself to materialize my ideas into something, anything, is what will get me out.

On April 1st I will launch my own daily design project in blog format, right here at circadiancreative.seancoleman.com. Stay tuned and wish me luck. I have been energized about this project for nearly 3 months. Now that it is a week away, I am a little frightened to say the least. Stage fright, my natural shyness, the pressure to create something every single day for a year. I never once thought that this project would be easy but it’s never been as intimidating as it feels right now! I thought it over for more than a month before even bringing it up to my girlfriend, I only published my intentions to the world a couple weeks ago on my main blog, and I waited until today to launch this blog. So there is no turning back now without being called a quitter. Now it’s official!

I may post another update before April 1st, but if not, I will certainly be posting my first image sometime next Thursday. See you then at the latest!


The following article from Smashing Magazine outlines the concept of the daily design challenge and highlights some other creatives who have pioneered this process for themselves: