The Importance of Personal Projects

Five weeks prior to the World Cup I set myself a personal challenge, I wanted to illustrate a poster for each participating team in the FIFA World Cup, I wasn’t going to get paid, it was just something for me. I decided to do this because I feel that I am at a point in my creative journey where I can push myself to new levels and really explore my creativity.

Keeping in mind the style that I wanted to execute I very quickly realized that I had put a mountain in front of myself, but one that I was determined to climb. For anyone whose not clued up on football there are 32 teams taking part in the tournament so that’s a lot of illustrations.

The process itself was broken down in to several steps…

First was (as with any project) the research stage – It was easy to pick the best players but they weren’t always the most charismatic, I wanted to select players that represented the country to its fullest, my football knowledge is decent but knowing who to use from teams such as Peru, Iran and Panama needed a little bit of help from google.

The design process itself was broken down in to steps because designing 32 illustrations all at the same time was quite intimidating, First I got the main shapes down, then I added the detail, next step was colour and shading, more detail and… more detail, The finishing stage was the addition of typography and inspiration from the national flags. Further typography featuring the country’s nicknames and FIFA ranking helped to finish each poster.

The ironic thing about this project is that the outcome of the illustrations wasn’t why I was doing it, The main focus was to complete the task and push myself to do it, the deadline couldn’t be pushed back, posting anything beyond June 14th (when the tournament begins) would mean unsuccessfully completing the mission.

As mentioned 32 teams are a lot of teams, the first illustration that I completed was (for obvious reasons) England. Once finalizing my poster of the legendary Harry Kane I realized I had spent close to 5 hours working on this. 5 x 32… S**t, I wasn’t going to be able to do this whilst working a full time job.

I had no client putting pressure on me, I had no client saying yes it’s good or no its crap. I was the client! It allowed full creativity and there were times where I spent hours on an illustration and then realized it wasn’t working and needing to start again.

Around half way through the challenge I came across some awesome inspiration after going to a creative conference in Munich and listening to a talk from Baugasm. This guy is amazing, it wasn’t his incredible work that inspired me but more his work ethic, he designs a poster every day and has done this for two years, it was inspirational that he can find the time to do this in addition to the client work that pays the bills.

For me what I took from this is that it’s easy to think that you aren’t being challenged creatively, but ultimately you are the dictator of your creative output and no one else can effect that. Thanks for reading and if you have a suitable way of sharing my work it would be much appreciated.