July 16, 2016

Pride, Work, and Necessity of Side Projects: Charleston Travel Guide by Lauren Beltramo

What are you working on—on the side?

As a little kid, going to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina every other summer was incredible. I absolutely loved it—the heat, the ocean, the accents! And then one day, it hit me: people live here all year round. Ever since that lightning bolt realization, it seems that I’ve been heading down south. From New York, to Philadelphia, to finally Charleston! I’ve lived here for almost two years and I am delighted to call The Holy City home. I put together Charleston Travel Guide to pay homage to all the amazing local shops and beautiful places tucked away between cobblestone alleys and lush palm tree-filled parks. That’s the most delightful thing about Charleston—the promise of the unexpected just around the corner. But, as cliché as it sounds, if putting together this guide has taught me anything it’s that I still have so much more left to explore! I’m not sure what my next tribute to this wonderful city will be, but in the meantime, I collect interesting lettering finds over at My Type of Charleston.

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

I used to set very rigid parameters and deadlines for myself when it came to side projects, only to get overwhelmed and feel like there’s no hope of ever getting back on track after a few tardy days. Instead, I still set goals, but I make them much more broad in terms of months rather than weeks. After that, it’s a matter of being genuinely interested and wanting to do the work. Being freelance full-time also ebbs and flows, and it was really nice to have something to keep me focused in between projects. The truth is that this is one of the few side projects I’ve finished. I am always writing down ideas and filling a sketchbook page or two. Getting comfortable not finishing a project was actually a great relief. Whether I was no longer interested or wanted to work on something else, I’ve given myself the flexibility to continue experimenting—and that’s what’s most important.

Why have a side project?

So many reasons! Experimentation, self-promotion, simple delight. This project was great, because it gave me an opportunity to get back into writing, something I’ve sorely missed. I also hired a copy editor to proofread everything which was a new experience, and helped me see what kind of client I am. Managing this project in terms of my own time, cost and production, gave me a great perspective on pricing out similar projects for clients. Not to mention that having customers instead of clients was a whole new experience that I am eager to expand. Sometimes I have customers order a travel guide from places that I never expected, which has been so amazing. It’s easy to get caught up working away behind a screen, forgetting that actual people exist on the other side. But these guides have connected me with so many great people and seeing them hold these guides in their hands has been incredible. I feel like I am a stronger illustrator and designer for having done this project.

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Diptych courtesy of Lauren Beltramo.

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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.

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