December 7, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Shayla Hunter Addresses and Clarifies What It Means to Be a Black Female Today Through Her 100 Black Females Project



What are you working on—on the side?

My side project is the 100 Black Females Project. It is about connecting with Black Females of all ages and having them share their personal stories and experiences of being a Black Female today. I have done many personal side projects over the years, but this is the first that went beyond the personal. The 100 Black Females Project began as a challenge which later blossomed into something I never expected.

100 Black Females began earlier this year, April 2017, while I was a graduate student at the SVA Masters in Branding Program. A component of the curriculum is completing a 100 Days Project under the direction and mentorship of Debbie Millman, the department chair of the Masters in Branding Program. For each student, The 100 Day Project assignment began as something to personally discover everyday for 100 days. I went through approximately 4 different ideas before reaching the idea of 100 Black Females. I was led to the project when I looked inward at what I was trying to avoid or not think about. I thought the idea of talking about race was going to make things too uncomfortable or be too sensitive of a topic. That is where it struck me that I needed to walk this path of the unknown. That personal journey evolved into a project that created a community for Black Females and making a quiet dialogue around being a Black Female much louder. The project is about vulnerability, honesty and sharing your true self with the world. 100 Black Females is not just for Black Females, but for everyone. Each story, thought and expression is different but can speak to someone in an unexpected way. There are many stereotypes and expectations existing in the world surrounding Black Females. With those stereotypes and expectations, people are not seen as their true selves and treated as such. I want to help break that, allow people to share their stories, know these stories matter, and should be heard. For each Black Female, I interview them with a few questions. I run the questions and their answers along with an illustrated portrait that I create. One question is highlighted on Instagram, @100BlackFemales, while additional questions and answers are shared on the website. Creating illustrations was something I haven’t explored in a long time, but it has made me more confident in working and sharing this medium.

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

I continue to show up for it and make it happen! It is funny, because during my graduate program, the project was something I needed to find time to accomplish and document on a daily basis, on top of all the other school work I had and working a full-time job. Yes, I surprised myself everyday! I wondered how I would find the time, but I did just that—I found the time. When things are important to you, you make time to accomplish them. I also don’t pressure myself too much about the schedule. Some weeks are easier than others, so I meet, connect, interview and draw for 100 Black Females when I can. The project becomes part of a daily thing for me. I am always looking for females of all ages to feature for the project. I find them through friends, at events, social media, the hair salon, all over! Presently, I have surpassed the original goal of 100, and the new goal is 200. Hopefully it will go even further than that!

Why have a side project?

I always believe having side projects are a great way to express one’s self-creativity. I am also a photographer and modern dancer which means I get to be a part of different communities. As I kid, I was always wanting to try out something new to learn. There was art class on the weekends, dance classes, piano, etc. I think it helped me to not be afraid of trying new things and learning. With side projects, they are something for yourself that you can build and steer in any way you want. Plus, they may open a path into something else that you never expected.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Shayla Hunter.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.

November 29, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Professional Picture-Maker Liz Nugent Happily Goes Into The Wild



What are you working on—on the side?

As a freelance illustrator, sometimes it’s hard to figure out where a regular project ends and a side project begins! I’m a big believer in personal work, so I always have a few creative irons in the fire alongside client work!

That said, my most organized current side project is my Virginia Native Wildlife series. I get a lot of inspiration from nature, in particular, walking in my local park. I encounter lots of unfamiliar flora and fauna—and I wanted to get better at identifying them all. I combine some amateur nature photography with research into identifying the observation, then draw it! It’s my love letter to Virginia, a way to learn something new and a chance to practice drawing plants and animals. I find the best side projects are like that, they scratch a lot of different itches.

I also recently finished a fairly intense Inktober in which I did 31 ink drawings/paintings in 31 days, and I have an ongoing large-scale colored pencil series.

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

I try to make it as easy and enticing as possible. I do projects that really appeal to me, and I usually have a few of them that I’m working on. That way, I can rotate through—when I get tired of one, I have something else I can work on instead. When my schedule gets busy, I’ve found that weekly goals also really help. I find I need more flexibility than “on THIS day I will do THAT.” but meeting a weekly goal of completing X number of pieces feels satisfying.

I also try to keep in mind that these things are a long game. My creative nature is to always want to try new things, sometimes it feels like I can’t keep up with one project. But, I’m learning that’s not really the case—it’s just that sometimes it might be 6 or 8 months before an idea sparks my interest again, and that’s okay!

Why have a side project?

So many reasons! First of all, as a freelance illustrator, you need to make the work that you want to get hired to do. If you have a dream project, the best way to accomplish that is just do a version of it yourself and get it out there! I also think side projects are an important way to get to experiment. Clients (understandably) require more predictable output, so it can be intimidating to try a new technique or idea with that work. Side projects let you go wild and see what sticks—it helps keep things fresh.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Liz Nugent.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.

November 26, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Product Designer and Manager Caylee Betts’ Entrepreneurial Outlets in Realizing Swipies, Meetup group Moonlighters and More



What are you working on—on the side?

I have a couple! For the last two years, I’ve manufactured and sold a reusable paper called Swipies. I sell them publicly online, but I also do custom-branded projects with customers like Airbnb, General Assembly and Moz. It’s a great side project because it’s a real business, but it doesn’t require my attention constantly. I need to ship orders a couple times a week, but other than that, I can improve and grow the business at my own pace. It’s also cool that it’s a physical product since my job is entirely digital. It’s really nice to get hands-on.

My second project is a memoir about my experience with anxiety, including a reusable guidebook (printed on Swipies!) for working through a panic attack or high anxiety situation. This is a huge project because of the amount of research and interviews I need to conduct. Once I have the content in order, I need to work with legal and medical professionals to review the book. And I have yet to even look into working with an agent, publisher and printer. One step at a time!

Lastly, I recently started a Meetup group called Moonlighters, and I am planning to run a couple side-project-accountability-and-support groups in 2018. I have lots of ideas I like to pursue outside work, so I felt that surrounding myself with others who do the same would benefit all of us and all of our projects. I’m really excited about it!

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

I try to avoid putting too much pressure on myself with side projects. So instead of creating specific timelines or deadlines for my side projects, I keep a long list of things I want to pursue and I pick them off as motivation or inspiration strikes. So, on a day when I am more in the mood for a mindless task that I can complete while catching up on TV, I’ll inspect the quality of a couple thousand sheets from a new Swipies shipment or I’ll edit a bunch of photos from a recent custom-branded project. On other days, I am feeling really creative and want to dig into branding or coding or creating something new, so I focus on that. I also let myself go through ruts. There are times I won’t work on a side project for a couple weeks at a time. And that’s ok. This isn’t a great format for running a business, but it’s a healthy way to run a side project, in my opinion.

Why have a side project?

Personally, I can’t not. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and I have that fire in me. I ran my own business for 5 years, and have helped other small businesses get off the ground as well. Since I am no longer doing my own thing full-time, I love having an entrepreneurial outlet. I love that I can flex tons of different muscles with side projects, and I can do something different than what I do at work. I also learn a ton in a practical way. I’ve taught myself a good chunk of my coding knowledge through side projects. If you’re interested in professional self-improvement, I highly recommend taking on a side project!

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Caylee Betts.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.

November 25, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Sacha Judd is Turning the Tech World into a More Diverse and Inclusive Environment



What are you working on—on the side?

My side projects all revolve around the central question of how we can make the tech sector better. For years, I worked as a lawyer helping startups get off the ground. One of my first side projects was Back of a Napkin, which asks digital collaborators five easy questions and then produces a super simple agreement for them to sign. I set up Flounders Club, a series of events to connect tech founders with one another. I really quickly became frustrated with how few women were in the industry and how unsupported they felt, and so I worked with a friend to bring Refactor to life. We run four sold-events each year, bringing hundreds of people together to hear from amazing women about their journeys and the things they’re working on, and creating a pipeline of talented speakers.

Now, I spend a lot of time thinking about how we encourage a more diverse range of people into careers in tech, and how we ensure they feel included once they’re there. As part of that, I speak and write about the intersection of fandom and tech, and how we’re ignoring a generation of passionate, hard-working creative young people online because we don’t care about the same things they do, and how we can think differently about hiring and qualifications to change that. I’m also thinking about how we can start to celebrate the things we were first really passionate about—the first things that drove us to make and share online. Recognising the huge diversity of interests we all have is a first step to overcoming homogeneity in our teams and our work culture.

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

I’m really fortunate to have a job where side projects are actively encouraged. But I also think I find a way to make time for things that really excite me. I’m a night owl, so I tend to be up late tinkering on things. I’m also trying to get better at asking for help. With community events, my tendency is usually to take too much on, but when you ask for help, you suddenly realise that there are other people around you who want to see these things succeed as much as you do, and are willing to share the load. I’m also a firm believer in putting something down when it’s not working or not needed any more. You never want a side project to feel like a horrible chore or a burden.

Why have a side project?

I have an amazing and varied day job, and so it’s certainly not out of boredom! I think side projects are ways to effect change, and to positively impact my community. My side projects give me different perspectives and ideas to think about. They cause me to read more widely and to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise encounter. They’ve lead to invitations to go to places all over the world and speak, and to make amazing new friends. I recently wrote a piece about that lifelong journey of connecting with people through the things we care about and writing it made me realise the joy I’ve found in pursuing these interests outside of work. It’s such a blessing.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Sacha Judd.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.

November 21, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Ngaio Parr Launched “Make Nice” to Elevate and Inspire Creative Women



What are you working on—on the side?

In my “spare time,” I’m the founder and director of Make Nice, an Online Community and Real Life Un-Conference for, by and about Creative Women.

I built Make Nice as a way to, well…make nice. To make things easier and better. To provide practical advice for working in the creative industries, promote the importance of a thriving and supportive professional ecology and foster an ongoing dialogue between women.

The online platform provides the immediate and much-needed answers to those shitty questions (often in GIF form), like “Is this price OK?”, etc., creates impromptu drinks in cities worldwide, and has started more than one collaboration. The site showcases the work and practice of the women we love to elevate and inspire our community: illustrators, writers, photographers, designers, makers, bakers, curators, singers and songwriters, gamers, painters—any and all female-identifying creatives. And our conferences bring all of these women together for keynotes, panels, town-hall discussions and our patented ‘not-gross networking.’ We Make Nice because we think it’s the best way to make change.

Outside of my studio, I’m also a contributor to Women of Graphic Design, and teach at the University of Technology Sydney.

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

It is hard work, and it requires a lot of summer swims, movies, sleep-ins and dinner parties sacrificed. Side projects are important, but the only way they work is if you care about them so much you don’t mind the sacrifices.

Why have a side project?

In my experience, side projects have helped me meet new people, learn new skills, heightens my confidence in my abilities, improve my productivity, and help me make a difference to the issues I care about. They have also provided me some amazing opportunities that I would not have been possible without creating new ideas.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Ngaio Parr.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.

November 3, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Designer Rebecca MacDonald’s Mentoring, Collaborating, Consulting and More



What are you working on—on the side?

Over the past year, as a side project, I participated in the AIGA Chicago Mentorship Program this past spring. It was a great way to meet other designers like myself in the local design community and flex my creative muscles outside of my typical design job. I created a group project with a team of 8 other individuals. When we started, there were no rules as to what the project could turn into. We only had a few limitations, which were money ($50 per person) and time (8 weeks). We came up with an interactive game called Designers Against Humanity, playing into the idea that all designers have shared frustrations with their clients, work and careers. Players received 3 answer cards when they walked in the door. After they entered the room, they found a wall of 5 prompts, with postcards that we designed to relate underneath. Players were encourage to swap an answer for a postcard, and the best answers at the end of the night won a prize. It fostered conversations and helped to build deeper connections throughout the group of people who interacted with it.

Another side project I have is sitting on the Alumni Leadership Board of Camp Kesem, a nonprofit that operates free summer camps for children who have been touched by a parent’s cancer. While I was a student at George Washington University, I helped to found a local chapter of Camp Kesem. Now I continue to stay involved as an alumni through offering my design skills, fundraising and providing general advice whenever it’s needed.

I also have lots of other fun small side projects that I make for myself or for friends! You can see more of my personal projects on my website.

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

I think it’s really important to set concrete goals for yourself. When I was working on my group project for the AIGA Mentorship Program, I knew that I had to create 5 postcards by a certain date or they wouldn’t get printed in time for the wrap-up party. When setting concrete goals, be as specific as possible and give yourself incremental due dates for when you want to achieve those goals. That way, you will have to live up to your own expectations that you set for yourself, and you have nobody else to blame if you don’t achieve what you wanted to.

Why have a side project?

For me, it is very important to have a side project to express my own creativity. Sometimes as a designer, you get bogged down in what clients want and you start to lose your sense of self. It is really refreshing to take a break from my normal, day-to-day design work and create something completely different and unique. The best part is that you don’t have any client to answer to, you just have to answer to yourself! It’s also an opportunity to teach yourself something new. Learning new skills through side projects will help you to become a stronger designer as a whole, and you will be able to bring your new skills to your full-time job.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Rebecca MacDonald.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.

November 2, 2017

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Designer and Photographer Bekka Palmer Beautifully Transforms Threads and Ropes into Ethically Made Textile Products



What are you working on—on the side?

My side project is a small business called Closed Mondays. For my day-to-day, I am a freelance commercial photographer, which, to most people, sounds like a great creative profession. However, I needed a creative outlet from it. After doing photography for a few years and really getting into commercial work, I felt like I was losing touch with my most creative side. I ended up getting a studio in Williamsburg that would be able to work for both businesses and started experimenting with handmade items between photo gigs. I gave myself several hours a week to do “fun work” as I call it. I was making some of my own clothes, trying out weaving and embroidery—just doing whatever felt right for that day. That’s when I discovered how satisfying making the rope baskets was.

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

Part of me is really lucky in that my full-time career is freelance because it gives me some flexibility, but the other side is that freelancing is already stressful because it’s quite a roller coaster. So I used the flexibility to my advantage—during editing days or slow weeks, I would work on my side business. It has actually helped me to stay calm and no longer panicky when work is not flowing. Instead of panicking, now I just make baskets and work on marketing them.

Why have a side project?

I have a side project to have something that’s totally mine. No clients or art directors adding their creative input. The whole thing is just what I want to do. It sounds selfish, but for me, it’s totally necessary for my creative-self. I also believe it has made my other work better because I am happier now.

• • •

Diptych courtesy of Bekka Palmer.

• • •

Read more about the joy of side projects.


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


Donating = Appreciating: Design Feast is now on Patreon!
Lots of hours are put into making Design Feast—because it’s a labor of love to provide creative culture to everyone. If you find delight and motivation from the hundreds of interviews, including event write-ups, at Design Feast, please consider becoming a supporting Patron with a recurring monthly donation.

Please help keep Design Feast going and growing by visiting my Patreon page where you can watch a short intro video plus view my goals and reward tiers, from $1 to $12—between a souvenir and a satisfying brunch.