This is part #2 of our mini series with Alen Pavlovic of Type08 :)
Read part #1 of this series over here >
We left off discussing sticking to what You're passionate about, how do you juggle mixing in personal projects with your client work, and how do you schedule this?
If you're passionate about something, you'll find time! Joking aside, there's always a certain meaning behind a personal project, a reason behind doing it and spending time on it and you might sometimes think that precious time that could be spent much better on a real-client project.
Logically, if you have more room in your schedule with less current clients, you will have more time for developing personal concepts for fun and/or practice. But, the main result of more practice is (or should be) getting better at what you do, so at the end of the day, all your current and future clients will only benefit from those efforts.
What are some of your favourite personal projects you’ve worked on recently?
What usually drives my motivation is a simple idea of having these "dream" clients who I haven't yet worked with, coming from fields that have been out of my reach, for now. That being said, my favourite sport is basketball and I often "dream" of being included in one of the NBA-teams logo redesigns, so I've played around with some ideas for Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder in the past. Hip hop music and hip hop dance are other passions of mine as well, here's an example of some ideas for the Les Twins logo.
I actually do a lot of personal work & practice on fun side projects so the list could go on, but it's all (often) tied to my other passions in life, besides logo design.
Can you offer 3 helpful tips for designers about how to approach personal projects and how they can use them to benefit their career?
We can generally place personal projects in 3 different categories: a) projects tied to your passions which is often marked as fan-art, b) developing un-used work that was meant for a client, and c) sharpening up your skills on a specific style, especially if you decided to micro-specialize. There are others of course, but to help you focus on how to prioritise personal projects let's concentrate on these 3. Side projects that show off your skills and that are conceptually creative and interesting should always find a spot in your personal portfolio because you have absolutely nothing to loose. Here are some tips on how to approach each of the above categories.
Tip 1: Fan-art
This category can be inspired by your favourite sports team, car, fashion brand, airline, a local restaurant, even a book or a movie. Creating logos and identities might be outside your comfort zone too, but whatever you decide to do, try not to be too sloppy with it, because these are your "dream" clients and you really never know - you can definitely get noticed and hear from them if you share your work online. Especially if you take it even more seriously and execute it on the level where you can pitch it directly, so use the opportunity to show that passion of yours in full. Here you can see those mentioned NBA logo redesign concepts.
Tip 2 – Developing un-used client work
Sometimes a certain logo design project will ask for more research, more testing and more conceptual playing than usual, especially in cases where a company or brand name is a bit more on the abstract side, or, for example, when that particular client simply wants/needs to test out more ideas to stand out against tough competition. During those processes designers often come up with ideas and concepts that are maybe not quite appropriate for that specific purpose, but could definitely be repurposed for something else, either directly as is or with a certain amount of further tweaks. Here's an example that was picked from the "cutting room floor" and turned into a personal project, born as ideas from the real-client process.
Tip 3 – Micro specialise
My own micro-specialty is animal-themed logos, and as you may have seen, I'm even using a toucan to "brand" myself. The animal kingdom is an endless source of inspiration and I simply LOVE when different clients reach out with such tasks - I literally loose my mind! No matter the execution or concept behind it, I love to play with animal shapes and most of my personal projects are tied to that area, so my portfolio is filled with that style of work.
The main goal, when it comes to micro specialising is to get your skills on the level where it will take less time and effort to produce a high-quality solution in the "real world" when required. This category of personal projects, if taken seriously, will bring the highest benefit to your career along the way. Here's a few recent examples of mine below.
Type08 (Alen Pavlovic) is a logo designer and brand builder creating logos and identities for brands across the globe. Featured in multiple logo and brand books, Type08 has fast become one of the most influential logo designers within the design community.
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