3 Simple Steps for Creating 
a Passion Project That 
Grows Your Craft

by Paige Garland | AIGA Mobile Content Director | In-House Designer, Illustrator, and Nerd

Have you found yourself with a little extra free time? Got some pent-up quarantine energy you need to release, and your sourdough bread and whipped coffee recipes aren’t cutting it any longer? Sounds like a good time for you to start a passion project!

BUT WAIT! Don’t jump into a new project guns blazing—if you don’t give yourself a few parameters, it’s gonna be easy peasy to quit two weeks in. bUt CoNstRainTs kIlL mY CrEaTiViTy, you say. Well, you can’t stand up without a spine, can you?? By following these three basic tips for starting a new project, you can set yourself up for FOLLOWING THROUGH with your passion project.


PRO TIP #1 Define the purpose of your passion project.

Is this project strictly for you? Are you trying to build up your portfolio, learn a new skill, and/or attract new followers/clients? Can you combine some of your current interests in a unique way, so you enjoy the subject matter while you create these pieces?

For my last completed passion project (which is totally for me, if you must know), I combined my love of illustration, comics/anime, powerful ladies, and need for some affirmation:

My first illustration for my PWR GRL. passion project series

If you need some more examples, check out these amazing folks:

PRO TIP #2 Set up your parameters.

If you looked at any of the previous links, you’ll notice a PATTERN and THEME. I get it, niching down is hard. HOWEVER, this project isn’t forever. By giving yourself some parameters, you take the guess work out of what you’re going to be doing for the next several weeks. Now you can commit more time creating the work rather than waffling over the details.


  • medium (digital illustration, book covers, watercolor, embroidery, etc.)
  • color palette/style/general vibe
  • platforms (instagram, behance, dribbble, etc.)
  • size/format/template
  • pieces/deliverables

To put this into play, I committed to doing 12 digital illustrations in a comic book style with a pink, blue, and purple color palette. This keeps things consistent and proves you can create a more cohesive body of work.

PRO TIP #3 Keep yourself accountable.

Now, the point of doing all this leg work is to see this through. To keep yourself accountable, you have to make your goals REALISTIC.

Consider these things:

How often can you finish a piece and post it? I shot for one piece a week. If you can’t do that, THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. Keep yourself on a schedule, whatever the frequency is! AND POST IT, EVEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT.

If the thought of committing to 12 pieces gives you hives, why not start with four and reevaluate? But don’t just QUIT because you’re bored with it—the key here is to KEEP GOING and let the work evolve on its own.

How are you keeping yourself accountable? In other words, do you have an accountabili-buddy? I did this project in conjunction with a group of creatives, who were also posting absolutely killer (and completely) different content each week.

It’s like getting an exercise partner…a creative exercise partner! Do you have anyone in your life you can keep updated with your project or work alongside of? If not, I am here to be your creative cheerleader. Plz DM me @pwrgrl.illustration on IG.

How are you establishing HEALTHY boundaries? There is something to be said about showing up and doing the work when you don’t feel like it, but there’s even more to be said about taking the time to REST.

Set aside a day each week in which you either do NOTHING (my favorite), spend time with your friends/family, and/or spend time on another hobby. Your brain, body, and soul need rest. Your creativity will thank you.

A little planning is worth the time & effort.

I get it, committing that much time and effort to a single thing is kind of…daunting. You’re probably like I am—trying to balance a full-time gig, life commitments, and some kind of sanity. However, I want you to PICTURE IT: at the end of this project, you’ll have a body of work you’re proud of, and you will DEFINITELY be able to leverage your new skills in the future. Most importantly, you made something that matters to YOU. And other people will resonate with that.

So, as long as you define the purpose of your project, set parameters, and keep yourself accountable, you have what it takes to make your passion project dreams a reality. Take these three simple tips and get started on your new passion project TODAY!

By aigamobile
Published July 23, 2020
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