At the start of third year, I felt like I didn't have anything in my portfolio I was really that proud of. I didn't feel like I was learning enough about design from my classes and I started to feel imposter syndrome pretty strongly because the work my friends were doing was just so much better than what I had accomplished so far. I was really scared of the internships, I wanted to improve my skills and come up with some sort of project or thing that would make me stand out during interviews.
For a while I was stuck, but I ran across the Daily Design Challenge by a designer I followed named Baugasm which inspired me to try it out. Plus, I felt like if I could keep something like this up long enough, it would show employers that I’m dedicated at the very least.
At first it sucked. I'm not going to lie about that. It was nerve wracking for me to put my work out in public and I was terrified of looking like a fool if I quit early on, especially because all my friends knew about it. I only focused on getting the posters done on time for the first few days. After a while though, designing posters started to feel like a habit instead of a chore and I was able to see small improvements in my work.
Some of my most memorable moments from completing this challenge were actually when I could see my progression over time and laugh about how stupid my older posts looked to me. I surprised myself the first time I saw how bad my early posts were, but as I kept distancing myself from those first few posts it felt great and I could see tangible improvement.
However, even with the high highs of seeing my improvement and gaining support from the people around me, there were some low moments that almost made me quit. Creative block was dangerous in a daily challenge like this, especially because I made each post on the same day. I hit some pretty rough patches, and some days I barely had time to work on anything. Other days I had no motivation whatsoever. There were definitely a few times that I almost missed a post or wanted to just quit in general, and finding a way past all of that was hard.
Most of the time, there wasn't much I could do. I would try to focus on something else for a while to clear my head, or just force myself to do something simple, even if it didn't turn out great. I wasn't always happy with every post I made, there were a lot that I really don’t like actually, but each one helped me to learn something. Figuring out why something in my composition didn’t work, or why a colour looked out of place helped me to understand what could improve and even generated new ideas for a future posters occasionally.
Time management was one of my biggest enemies starting off. Each post was different, some took me literally 20 minutes, and some took me over 6 hours to complete. I struggled to manage my time for a while. I even ended up taking my laptop to my friends house on a few occasions just so I could work while hanging out with them. Coming up with a better process was really important to me because I would have crashed and burned if I couldn't manage my time properly.
With school, a social life, and then later my internship, the challenge really forced me to start planning further in advance and to manage my workload more efficiently. Although, sometimes there just wasn't enough time no matter how much I tried to plan. If I forgot about another obligation, a project, anything, it would put a strain on the time I had to work on a poster. It forced me to work faster and more frantically which produced results I wasn’t always happy with.
I really wish that I had learned to manage my time a lot sooner in the challenge. Making the mistake of putting things off made me learn to get my shit together quick, especially when I almost missed posting on a few different days. It really put a strain on me mentally and socially. There was a lot of times were I experienced stress because I was unhappy with my work or how I was functioning. Figuring that out and identifying what wasn't working helped me to improve and grow as I got further and further in the challenge.
I didn’t always figure out what I was doing wrong the first time, or the second time, but making small, manageable changes made a big difference. I didn’t have to solve all my problems at once, or make drastic changes, I just had to keep going and try my best not to give up on posting daily. After all, I did have a full year to fix them.
Most of all, I wanted to show myself I could do it, and after finishing this challenge I can definitely say that it was worth the time I put in. I had a lot of reasons not to start this challenge. It was hard, it took a lot of time, I could look like a fool, and it was a bit scary putting myself out there to begin with.
Starting was one of the hardest parts to the whole thing, but once I started to see the difference small bits of improvement can make over time it was a bit intoxicating. Proving to myself that I could actually follow through and get to day 365 made everything I had experienced worth it, and I would definitely do it again.
Brian Dumbleton, GBDA '19
Brian Dumbleton is a fourth year GBDA student as well as a Visual and Interaction designer working at McAfee. He has worked as a freelance designer for 5 years prior to joining McAfee. Recently, he completed a year long daily design challenge where he designed a unique poster every day for 365 consecutive days.