Creative challenges are a great way to expand on your existing skill set and challenge you to learn new ones through consistent practice. Popular creative challenges you may have seen online include Inktober, 36 Days of Type, and Adobe’s Daily Creative Challenge, and thousands of creatives participate in these every year.
But staying motivated and disciplined from start to finish can often be a challenge, especially when you’re already balancing professional and personal commitments, so we’ve gathered advice from creatives on Behance who have successfully completed creative challenges for their experience on how to get to the finish line.
A short time frame keeps a creative challenge from dragging on endlessly. Keeping your timeline within a week or month means that the end goal is always within sight, and the challenge remains a swift sprint instead of a never-ending ultra-marathon. Be realistic about the amount of time you have and find the right timeline for you.
Too many possibilities and no direction can often feel paralyzing when you’re starting a new creative challenge. Having external constraints can help limit your choices to a more digestible set of options. Thematic challenges like Folktale Week make it easy to narrow down a specific concept, Inktober’s constraint starts at a single medium (ink, of course) and includes daily prompts, and 36 Days of Type has a letter or number for each day.
Once you’ve established clear constraints, you can stretch you creative muscles within the bounds of what is possible, and still add personal themes on top of the predetermined ones. Katya Klimova, who created illustrations for Folktale Week, assigned her own goals to the challenge: “I’ve tried to reveal themes from the prompt list by using a laconic style and a black white palette with orange emphasis.”
3D artist Siddhant Jaokar was inspired by Beeple’s Everydays Challenge and took upon the task himself to create a render everyday too. When Siddhant gets stuck, he looks to his inspiration bank: “I have a huge repository of images I have photographed myself and also collected from the internet, so, when I feel like I need some inspiration or I get stuck I usually go through those images.”
Many challenges revolve around a consistent frequency, such as daily or weekly output. Find a time that works for your schedule, even if it’s just 15 or 30 minutes, to dedicate yourself to the challenge. Illustrator Amandine Comte participated in Inktober to get out of her comfort zone of digital drawings and into the world of physical paper and brushes. “I hesitated for a long time because the investment is colossal and it adds to the daily workload of my freelance life,” she admits. In the end, she decided to make the commitment, and she prioritized getting her work done during the day and working on her Inktober drawings in the evening, after she put her daughter to bed.
Adobe Creative Resident and UX designer Patricia Reiners started a daily UI challenge to improve her skills and expand her portfolio. She too found it difficult in the beginning to stay motivated, but what helped her pull through was always keeping her goal at the back of her mind: “become a better designer.”
Feeling like you’re part of a community and seeing what others are creating alongside you can be great motivation. Having an online community was crucial for keeping Amandine motivated to keep creating: “We are boosted by the creations of other artists, each more breathtaking than the next.” Posting your work online every day as you complete each piece is also a great way to stay motivated, as your community sees your posts and can continue to keep you accountable for the following day’s work.
One way to post daily on Behance is by using the Work in Progress feature to show snippets of behind the scenes progress. By updating a like-minded community of artists and creatives, you can also get feedback from them on how to improve your challenge submissions daily.
Patricia uploaded her works in process to Instagram and asked for feedback from her community: “If I have some serious doubts or problems with this task I like to talk to another designer and test my ideas, this usually helps a lot.”
Whatever your challenge, staying consistent and finding inspiration and support from the creative community will help you expand your portfolio and improve your craft. Here’s to a creative and productive 2020!
Not sure what kind of challenge you’d like to take on? Check out our moodboard of creative challenges for inspiration.