The side project. Maybe it’s a long term effort, or maybe it’s something you can get done over a weekend. Whatever the project might be, whether it’s a craft creation or a short story collection or some kind of offbeat art piece, it’s the thing that’s on your mind, the thing you want to get to, the thing that you really enjoy working on.
When I meet new people or I’m connecting with friends or colleagues, I always want to know about their side project. Yes, I want to know other things — about their job, their recent vacation, the this and the that of what they’ve been up to, but I’m always curious to know about that thing they’re cooking up in their figurative garage. I like the way people communicate when they talk about their creative endeavors — I am inspired not only by their ideas, but also by their passion.
I run a website called 52projects.com — it’s all about projects and project-making. It was born out of my love of these so-called side projects. Originally the site was a simple list of personal projects, and out of that came a book. Now, my goal with the site has been to turn it into a sort of project-making hub. I regularly update the site with posts and links to all manner of projects.
I do my own hunting for these things, whether through surfing the web or finding out through some other media, and I also gets lots of notes from people telling me about the projects they’ve got cooking up, or about projects that they’ve seen that I should check out. I have to remind myself sometimes to stop doing all this checking out and get to work on my own stuff.
On the 52projects.com site there is a standing call for participation in the What’s Your Project project — to simply write up what your project is and the story of why you are doing it / did it. Some amazing stuff has come in, such as Emily Boland’s imaginary walking tour project, Corporal Hollyhock’s guerrilla gardening project, and Andrea Jenkins’ Photobooth Friday project.
There’s also a What’s Your Project Flickr group, a place where you can submit photographs of your projects. So many cool projects are featured. ArtJunkGirl has posted photos of her wonderful squares, Heather Smith Jones posted polaroids from her August Polaroid Project, Aylanah posted photos of her Bento-licious project.
I find myself clicking on the pictures, reading about the project, then going to the person’s website and full Flickr stream to check out more of the cool stuff that they are doing.
And I also just launched the "Brought My Lunch" Flickr group — this one was born out of my own interest in 1) saving money and 2) eating healthier by bringing lunch to work, instead of always buying overpriced, over-caloried food just because it’s within walking distance of my office. By making a "project" out of it, I create more of an incentive to actually pack up a good lunch and stick to my resolve not to scarf down two slices of pizza or a "I can’t believe I just paid $9 for this" sandwich.
I ask others and I constantly ask myself, "What’s your project?" It’s my way of searching for ideas and inspiration, of reminding myself to get to work on the idea that is jolting around in my head. The more I ask the question, the more amazingly wonderful, inspiring things I find out about, and the more I just want to get to work on my next project.