January 27, 2020

Not Finding a Scottish Whisky Distilleries Map that Matched His Requirements, Designer Dale Watson Illustrated His Own

What are you working on—on the side?

My side projects are mostly illustrative. Over the past year, I’ve been working on multiple whisky-related projects, including simple illustrations of each Scottish distillery (an ongoing project) and detailed Whisky Maps of Scotland and Japan. The maps plot the location of each whisky distillery for a handy (and hopefully beautiful) reference guide.

I’ve also recently moved onto another subject I’m passionate about, nature, and am currently working on a series of bird illustrations inspired by my travels around the north of England, Scotland and New Zealand. It’s early days on this one at the moment. All of these works then populate my Instagram profile which I suppose is kind of another side project.

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

I’m often more excited about the side projects than my full-time work, so I manage to squeeze in little pockets of time whenever I can. It might be while I’m waiting for a brief to come in or for clients to give feedback, but it’s mostly just for an hour in the morning before the official working day starts.

My full-time work as an Art Director and Designer can swing from busy, fun and interesting to quiet, tedious and rather dull. It’s during the latter periods when it’s important to find pockets of time to think about my side projects—to keep me feeling creative and inspired.

It’s also a great opportunity to experiment, try new techniques and see what you can achieve to improve and grow. This will then, of course, also benefit my actual job too.

Why have a side project?

Mainly, it’s just for the fun of it—I’ve always enjoyed drawing for as long as I can remember. Illustrating and designing is a hobby, so it’s great that I get paid to do it too.

Sometimes, I start a side project when I have a want for something. This is how my Whisky Map of Scotland project started, I wanted a nice-looking reference map to sit alongside my whisky collection but just couldn’t find one anywhere which fit my brief. I wanted a map to include all currently working distilleries—most maps are out of date or just focus on the most popular ones. I also wanted it to plot major landmarks and towns so I could have an idea of roughly how close things were. In the end, I created it for myself.

Because I find illustration so enjoyable, it might one day become something that I’d like to focus on more, maybe even specialise in, and so, side projects are great for developing skills and also for building a potential future portfolio.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Dale Watson.

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

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