Side Projects: The Value of Hustling

Want to meet top companies, new mentors, and other awesome, talented young pros like you?Join us for Hustle Summit, the most epic networking event you’ll ever attend, taking place on Friday, January 27th, 2017 at Irving Plaza. We’ll connect you digitally and in-person to the coolest companies, greatest pros across industries, and your future life-long friends. Companies we work with include HBO, Scripps Networks, BuzzFeed, Blue Apron, IPG Mediabrands, L’Oréal, and more. Learn more & save the date at hustlesummit.co

 

Be prepared to reinvent yourself, be prepared to go out on a limb occasionally, and be prepared to do the things that you feel strongly about that maybe other people don’t. For me what started out as a creative vacation… has become my life calling.” – Hillman Curtis

For creatives, side projects are often a great way to find balance between work and play. As our panelists proved, it is possible to pursue hobbies while working. In fact, these small-scale projects can become major opportunities for professional growth and can turn into full-time endeavors. During the “Everyday I’m Hustling: The Value of Side Projects” panel at Find & Follow Your Passion at Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts, the panel delved into their own side projects to provide insight on how to harness creative juices and successfully produce work after getting home from your day job.

“Weak Signals” and Lots of Ink

Arianna Orland, Creative Director at Zynga, started Paper Jam Press as a side project.  As the founder and proprietress of PJP, she creates beautiful posters that are hand-pulled through a Vandercook letterpress. What inspired this hobby? During the panel, Arianna discussed the “weak signals” that inspire her interior monologue and ultimately led her to the craft. Weak signals are the little messages that serve as inspiration, a collection to be used for creative fodder later on. For her, an example of one of these weak signals was stencils on the sidewalk in her hometown of San Francisco. These stencils illustrated a couple’s back-and-forth dialogue and served as anonymous public declarations of love. Inspired by this narration, Arianna decided to create similar messages through the art of letterpress. Although she comes from a design background, Arianna started off with little working knowledge of letterpress printing.

Arianna encourages young people “to embrace what we don’t know because it forces you to learn”, a lesson she learned after taking a class and falling in love with the art and craft of letterpress. Doors can lead to both great things and failures, but, more than anything, collaborating with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise is never a bad thing. Learn from each other because at the end of the day, in her words, “you are the cheapest labor you can find.”

Mr. Gif: The Side Hustle Turned Full-Time Gig

FIT grads, friends, doodlers and self-proclaimed comic geeks, Mark Portillo and Jimmy Repeat are the creators of Mr.Gif. Taking the idea of the “animated GIF comic”, they developed an app that animates frames. After gaining a small following, the two went on to launch Mr. Gif, which is an artist collective that creates quirky and beautiful animations in Graphics Interchange Format, utilizing hand-drawn art, photos and 8-bit compositions.

They have done projects for Nike, Forbes, Jimmy Fallon, VICE, Anthony Bourdain and MTV. Their animated GIF’s are frequently re-blogged on Tumblr; their art style easily recognizable. For the two creative minds behind Mr. Gif, this formerly “side” project enabled them to leverage their creativity and do what they liked full-time. But how do you know when to jump ship? For Mark, it was when he realized that his day job was causing his side project to suffer—ultimately providing a disservice to Mr. Gif. Their closing words of advice: “Always experiment, don’t corner yourself. Try everything you can. And always see yourself in beta.”

A Global Social Movement With Humble Beginnings

The Million Hoodies Movement for Justice was kick-started by one ambitious person – Daniel Maree. What started off as a social movement with hopes of bringing attention to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012 has turned into a full-fledged national non-profit with over 50,000 members.  Million Hoodies went on to win the Do Something Award; its petition was the fastest growing one in internet history. A strategist, activist and filmmaker, Daniel aims to mobilize a million people to push for change on issues of racial profiling and gun violence. As a jack of all trades and seemingly master of all, Daniel is also the founder and CEO of M-PWRD, the first and only minority-owned Shared Value agency. He has worked on projects like The Inconvenient Truth and Good Night, and Good Luck, as well as campaigns for Darfur and World Bank. Daniel’s words of advice for young creatives? “Achieve greatness through hard work. Put in work on honing your craft.” As our session wrapped, Daniel provided attendees with two important pieces of advice:

  • Donate your time wisely: His friend Tim, a full-time creative at an agency, created the iconic Million Hoodies poster that was ranked the third most impactful poster of 2013 and consequently went on to win a Cannes Lion. The lesson: don’t turn down small projects you’re passionate about. They could change your life.
  • Be yourself: Don’t feel the need to always follow orders. Be outspoken. Don’t be afraid to say “F**k it. I can do something about this.”

Find That Passion and Follow It

Designers, animators, artists, and activists can all agree that prioritizing is not always elegant or pretty. The key is to find something that doesn’t feel like work, something that you’re willing to get up at the crack of dawn for, and pursue it. Another important facet is to surround yourself with people you can learn from. Jimmy Repeat stressed the importance of having a good support network. As for knowing when to quit the day job, Mark Portillo says, “If you feel good about it, launch the thing. Listen to your gut, not just your mentors.” Because if you don’t hustle, someone else will.

Do you have tips on how to hustle, or a great side project story? Share in the comments below.

Want to meet top companies, new mentors, and other awesome, talented young pros like you?Join us for Hustle Summit, the most epic networking event you’ll ever attend, taking place on Friday, January 27th, 2017 at Irving Plaza. We’ll connect you digitally and in-person to the coolest companies, greatest pros across industries, and your future life-long friends. Companies we work with include HBO, Scripps Networks, BuzzFeed, Blue Apron, IPG Mediabrands, L’Oréal, and more. Learn more & save the date at hustlesummit.co

 

 

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