I recently tackled a daily project during the month of February. In that I have a full-time job where I commute from New Orleans to Baton Rouge every day and recently started teaching an evening class at a university in the evenings, it was a crazy undertaking, but for over a year I’ve been trying to be more active in the “artist” title I attribute to myself. I feel if you don’t produce art, how can you call yourself an artist?
So, I decided to use an idea for a project I had researched several months back. The original idea for the project was to gain a new skill set, namely learning ZBrush (a digital sculpting software) and getting into 3D sculpting and hair, but since it popped back into my mind of February 1st, I decided to take on the project with my current skill set. A quick explanation of the project is that I took each letter of the alphabet and found a “black hairstyle” that corresponded with it, then created a representation of the hairstyle on the letter. I called it the “Black Hair Alphabet” and chose February because of Black History Month.
When I initially started the project, I was doing a “good job” of working on each letter when I came home from work or class. Each letter typically took 2-4 hours to complete, so that had me going to sleep anywhere between 10:00 pm and midnight. Not good when you get up at 5:30 am every day, but anything to be an artist, right? I posted my letter as soon as I was done with it on my Instagram account and Facebook artist page. In that this was a big project, having these “little wins” helped motivate me toward my goal: being an artist.
After a few letters, I had procured some fans. Mostly, people I knew, but now I had an audience. This is one thing that helped me push through to the end of the project. There were people out there who were looking forward to seeing what the next hairstyle was and what I would do with it. It also helped to have a friend, Latrice, who posted every single letter on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. So, not only did I have personal connection fans, I had her followers watching too! If you’re working on a project, whatever it is, I would encourage you to “put it out there” so that you can gain some accountability partners. These people may not even know you’re using them as accountability partners, but when you can have someone ask, “hey, how are you coming along with that project you were working on?”, you can either make them proud with an update or be forced to look your failure to act in the face.
I was able to keep up the pace of producing my letters daily maybe until I hit the letter “M,” which I would consider to be impressive considering my workload. After a while, I decided that sleep was more important than strictly keeping up with my project. That meant the next letter would come out two days later or I would binge 2-4 letters on the weekend.
Then we got to the letter, “Q.” If you look at what I produced for the letter “Q,” you wouldn’t think it was that difficult to do, especially considering how some of my previous letters looked. But you also wouldn’t know from looking at it that my finished product was the 7th iteration/attempt at making “Q.” I spent the entire weekend on that letter. I pretty much wanted to quit after that, but luckily I have this thing where I’ll let myself down before I let other people down. The fans I had gained in the short period of time were what kept me going. However, when you get frustrated or burnt out, I would also suggest taking a little break. It took a couple days to get the gumption to work on the letter “R.”
By the end of my project, it definitely wasn’t daily, but by the middle of March and after completing one of my most complicated letters, “Z,” I was finished with the “Black Hair Project.” I felt both accomplished and relieved. I got a number of digital pat on the backs at the end from people on Facebook and Instagram. It was also big because it was the first BIG personal project that I’ve completed in several years. It’s so easy to meet a deadline at work because your paycheck is dependent on it, but once you’re on your own, any and everything can become an excuse to putting it off. I encourage anyone who is working on a project that has been thrown to the wayside; dust it off, be vocal about it and push through to the end. It will all be worth it on the other side.
If you want to see the completed "Black Hair Alphabet" project, you check it out here.
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