September 18, 2016

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Danyelle Sage’s Outreach to Her Local Creative Community



What are you working on—on the side?

I am extremely passionate about community outreach. As a member of the AIGA Chicago Board of Directors, I have the honor of working on programs that elevate and nurture our design community. I get to ideate, organize, develop, manage and attend new and existing events for our chapter. With strategic vision, I manage and oversee event series and event chairs.

Concurrently, I act as Volunteer Coordinator for the Chicago Design Museum. I oversee the organization, coordination and management of all volunteers and recruitment initiatives at the museum. This includes things like planning appreciation events, tracking volunteer hours, developing an incentives and training program, and continually finding new ways to engage potential volunteers.

I also mentor CPS [Chicago Public Schools] students at monthly design studios for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, guiding them through the design process, talking through design problems and encouraging design thinking. It’s a great opportunity for me to reflect on my professional experience while collaborating with the students as we work through problem-solving.

Additionally, I do a bit of freelance design and brand development for small businesses here in Chicago. I find the clients to be very approachable (many of them are friends or acquaintances), and more importantly, the work is meaningful. I just celebrated 2 years of working with the amazing individuals behind Chicago’s longest-running podcast network, Dynasty Podcasts. The founder and host, Jaime Black, has spent the past year producing dozens of free panels and free workshops, designed to captivate and encourage students with an entrepreneurial mind-set.

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

One day at a time! I’m lucky that I really enjoy what I do, so it hardly ever feels like working, and I’m hardly doing it alone. Lots of collaboration taking place in all of my endeavors. It does occasionally require me to do work long nights and weekends. To stay on top of things, I track everything I do (down to do dinner dates) in a very organized Google Calendar, and keep track of all my projects with Google Docs and a stack of notebooks/sketchpads.

Why have a side project?

My freelance projects give me an outlet to hone my craft and to express myself in ways that I don’t always get to do in my 9–5. I had one client that wanted something hand-sketched, and that was challenging for me, because I’m very much accustomed to using Adobe or 3D-modeling programs to create. Ever since, I’ve been really into creating my own doodles and script.

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Images courtesy of Danyelle Sage.

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Read more about the joy of side projects.


This series, devoted to side projects, is delivered in association with 50,000feet, an independent creative agency dedicated to helping brands and businesses soar.


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