Creative Passion Projects in Your Profession
It happens to all of us from time to time; that feeling like you have no creative energy left and that you’d rather do anything than have to think creatively for a while. This can especially be the case after a long year of working on non-stop projects for clients. So how do you elevate this feeling and get your brain in the right mind set for the upcoming year? Well, maybe it’s time you start developing a Passion Project and see if you can get the creative energy reignited.
What Is A Passion Project
A passion project can be anything you want it to be provided it’s not something you are doing in order to get compensated for, at least initially. By taking off the responsibility of having to get paid for the project you’re helping to free yourself from the burden of conforming the project to anyone else’s desires but your own. Now, if you finish the project and someone comes along and wants to pay you for it then all the better, but don’t make money a goal of the project.
The project should still have some guidelines or goals to give it structure and it absolutely needs to be something you intend to finish. A good way of making sure it ends up being something to help keep you going is by giving yourself a deadline is to have an idea of where or when you would display or share the project with others. You don’t want this to be a project that sits around for ever and ever so keep it to a reasonable time frame for completion, say a month or two.
Our Passion Project for 2014
Here at Pixel Bokeh we are very passionate about two things all the time; animals and nature. It’s just something that we gravitate to and it’s when we’re either around animals or tromping around out in nature that we feel good about ourselves. So this year when we saw an article for the Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe (the first cat cafe coming to Seattle) we thought this might be something of interest. They want to create a cafe in Seattle that serves great food and coffee, as well as, has an adjacent area were there are cats that people can interact with and that are available for adopting. Win, win and win.
When we first looked at the website we could see that they were just getting started with the idea and were looking to get some crowdfunding going. Having been involved with creating a number of crowdfunding videos we figured we could donate our time and equipment to helping those behind the Seattle Meowtropolitcan Cafe to produce an effective video that would help them raise the money they needed to get started.
Now, this is a business, not a non-profit. If it were a non-profit we might have looked at donating our time and services differently and looked into taken a tax write off, but for this project we just wanted to help out.
Your passion project can be something you do completely on your own, but most times you’ll find it is more effective when you’re either collaborating with someone else or working for someone else’s projects that lines up with your personal interests or passion. It also helps to bring more resources to the project and more perspectives.
How To Start Your Passion Project
First things first, we needed to know who was behind the Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe and find out if they were A) interested in having a video done and B) if they seemed like people we’d want to work with. You have to make sure that your goals line up with those that are going to be involved. When working for a client, you can always say that it’s just a job and that helps when you find yourself working through the more difficult parts of the job, however in a Passion Project there is no compensation as talked about previously, so the personalities and goals all have to fit together in order for it to work.
We met with Matt and Andrew the two guys behind the first Seattle cat cafe endeavor for an hour or two and went over the project in detail. We wanted to find out how far along they had it planned out, how serious they were, and if they were going to be able to use the video that we’d offer to create effectively. We also wanted to find out if they were able to bring any resources of their own to the project.
Once we had a good idea of what they needed, and discussed the general process of creating a crowdfunding video, we worked on the script and setting some tentative production dates together.
So where is a good place to look for a project for yourself? First suggestion would be online in Social Media groups like Facebook or Google+ (yeah, it’ still exists). If you’re into classic cars, find out what groups are doing shows in your area or city. Love to knit yourself crazy? Look into people who have sites on Pinterest or Etsy that might share some of your crafting creativeness.
You have to start by looking around locally to see who or what already exists that share and align with your personal passions. You’ll know you’ve found something when you start endlessly looking into topics page further and further.
Keeping The Passion Project Alive
It can be easy to let these types of projects fall to the wayside or let a commercial project take precedent, so it’s good to have others involved than just yourself. For us, we knew that this project had a deadline as the crowdfunding on Indigogo was already up and running and had a set deadline. The sooner the video was done, the more it would help the crowdfunding.
Giving yourself not only a deadline, but having other people involved is going to help you treat the project seriously and focus on getting it done. Passion Projects are not something you should think of as less important or valuable than your paid work. They benefit you and allow you to develop your personal creative interests and that is of tremendous value to any creative person.
We used Google Docs to co-write the script and get approval from everyone involved. Matt was a bit hesitant to be the only one on camera so he put the word out to friends and followers of the Seattle Meowtropolitain Cafe Facebook page to enlist the help of a few other people to appear in the video.
When everyone’s donating their time, it’s important to keep the communication clear and effective. Make sure everyone has some responsibilities and that they are clearly delegated. You don’t have to be project leader, but it doesn’t mean there should be one or that the lead roll isn’t shared. It shouldn’t be just you who is doing everything in the project if you’re working with others. That’s just a recipe for disaster waiting to happen, with a cold side dish of disappointment to boot.
For the video Matt and Andrew were responsible for finding a location and some cats to appear in the video. We offered guidance as to what would be a good type of environment and reviewed photos of different locations to provide feedback. Finally they found a great location that was easily accessible for everyone and where the cats could also be comfortably.
Making The Project Happen
Your passion project may be something that happens over time, or be a one time event like ours was. Regardless of how it takes place, make sure you put it into your schedule and give it the same amount of respect you’d give any other important project. It can sometimes be easy to think of it as not being as important as other things you might have going on, but the reality is that the benefit to you and your personal creative focus is damn near priceless. Put it on your calendar and make sure you’re ready for making the project happen when the time comes.
When working with animals it’s always tricky, but Matt and Andrew did a great job finding cats that were super friendly and people who truly loved animals. We worked out a production schedule that would result in filming the cats and people first before doing any of the on camera talking. This way the animals weren’t having to wait around any longer than necessary and could get back to their own environments as quickly as possible.
Once we had all of the cameras and lights set up, we were quickly reminded of how worthwhile passion projects can be. Everyone on set had a good vibe and wanted to be there. People were willing to help and stepped up at every occasion. This is exactly the type of environment that can come from passion projects and why they are so important. It’s impossible not to come away feeling enthusiastic about the project when you’ve just spent several hours with people who all feel the same way and want to help. (It’s also probably what keeps cults going. =-)
The End Result
Having a project completed that you are able to look back on is vital in order for a passion project to be worthwhile. We had a time crunch for creating this video, but that didn’t mean we rushed it or compromised it any way. Because of the time taken to put it together and everyone willing to help out, completing the final video wasn’t as difficult as it could have been. We look at it as a good video project, but to those involved in getting Seattle Meowtropolitan Cafe going, it’s much more than that. It’s a marketing video that helps them communicate their message effectively to a larger audience and to get more people involved in the project than they could without it. Looking back, it’s the kind of project that might not get as much attention or interest from people who are looking at our portfolio of work, but for us, it’s a project that we are proud to have done and makes us feel great about the creative skills we have to offer.
It’s a project that we did as much for ourselves as for anyone else, and we know that by doing this project we have came away wanting to take on our next challenging commercial project with the same creative drive as our we have for our passion projects.
It’s perfectly fine to feel a bit selfish or smug about completing a passion project, because it’s the only way you can give so much of yourself on all of the other projects throughout the year.
Hope this helps you to develop your own kind of passion project. Feel free to post any questions or comments below.
– Pixel Bokeh