Andi Best Freelance Designer

Forge A Project

  • Published 09-05-2024
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Forge a Project
Junior creatives who've not yet penetrated their market and seasoned creatives experiencing dry spells will both likely have the same curiosity germinate in their minds - should I fake a project?
Keeping portfolios fresh and momentum driving are crucial to fostering creative careers, coaxing new leads, and feeling accomplished, but if you aren't being commissioned to produce anything then you've nothing to wield to secure new work. Chicken, meet egg.
It seems logical that a pseudo project might fill the void – a personal creative endeavour employing all your usual professionalism would generate new content you could tout whilst simultaneously ensuring you remain motivated and inspired during what would otherwise be downtime.
That logo idea for a fictional business you've been drawing virtually, that opinion piece on a social-political issue you'd love to pen... Sculpting these fabrications into tangibility might be just what you need to jump-starting paid work.
Though there is one potential drawback of a self-initiated pseudo project: the lack of credible challenge. Without genuine client steer you've only your own bias to appease, so the work you produce may be perfect in terms of craft but sub par in terms of problem-solving. Fulfilling only the parameters you set for yourself are no match for the real-world conflict a live brief would throw up.
Consider this alternative - instead of forging the project, forge the ask. Why not proactively approach a business or brand that excites you and offer to carry out your ideal piece of work for them pro-bono. If you were prepared to invest the time developing something bespoke for absolutely no one, why not do precisely the same for a genuine entity you could leverage self-promotion from. Heck, it may even be the catalyst for a long-standing creative relationship.
I've thought about how I'd do this should I fall on quieter times: there's a restaurant in London I frequent approximately once a year who serve a white-labelled lager from a central distillery. They've branded the beverage to tie in with the theme of the establishment and serve it in a glass sporting its logo. The logo, in my opinion, is quite rubbish. It's not particularly inspired, it's proportionally all wrong and maddeningly it features the restaurant's name awkwardly squeezed into the centre of it.
With more sensitive wording I'd convey as much to the brand or marketing coordinator of the restaurant group who clearly aren't losing sleep (or trade) over their shoddy logo and would therefore never carve out budget for briefing a replacement. I'd propose to design some alternate graphics that would do more justice for the drink, free of charge, which I'd presume would be difficult to turn down.
From there it'd be a simulation of a live-fire branding project. Spec and scope > moodboard > concepts and drafts > first render > second render > sign off.
Whether or not the restaurant used any of the work at the conclusion of the engagement is academic - it's conception and critique would be authentic enough to warrant portfolio induction, social media showcasing and newsletter boasting. It'd have topped up my marketing confidence, served to start new conversations and prevented my creative neurological pathways from bricking themselves off. And imagine just how delicious and refreshing that lager would taste the next time I sat down in that restaurant watching the waitstaff place it before me in its new and improved branded glass.
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