We chat with the amazing doer Emma Rogan who started the awesome 100 Days Project in NZ! Emma is Design Director at Augusto in Auckland. Learn about where Emma got the idea to start the 100 Days Project, why you should get involved and some of her favourite participating projects to date – make sure you sign-up to their newsletter to stay up-to-date on the 2015 start date!
Please give us a little overview of the 100 Days Project and how it started.
I really like keeping busy, the industriousness of making & doing – and the idea that we never stop learning. But when we’re working designers, it becomes up to us to keep pursuing learning – over and above the learnings from being on the job. In 2011 I was looking for a way to experience some further study while still working full time as an art director. I’d been at this great agency for a long time, and I wanted to change something up. I couldn’t find any short courses that did not demand full-time study, but did eventually stumble across Michael Beirut’s ‘100 Days of Design’. A class he teaches at Yale School of Visual Arts. It sounded difficult enough to be interesting – so I decided to give it a go. In the space of a morning, I’d committed myself, picked a start date, set up a simple Cargo site, and made invitations for about 30 people I knew who might like to do it with me. Since then it’s grown year on year, 50 people signed up that first year, and over 2,000 people took part last year. 2015 will mark the fifth annual 100 Days Project.
Any favourite and/or stand out projects from the 100 Days Project? So many favourites! The creativity of others is mind-blowing, here are a few that come to mind: -Piri’s ‘Day in the life of Noah’ – a film project of a father observing a son. It is very tender, funny and real. We see the days through both the father’s eyes and the bright delight of life through the eyes of his wonderful son. (2012) -Clare, Lily & Ruby – this family have done the project together for four year’s straight, my favourite was probably their ‘100 Miranda Moments’ where they played out scenes for each other from the show Miranda. (2013) -Siran Yi’s ‘What if we could live in his stories’ – drawings and models from 50 of Roald Dahl’s short stories. Exquisitely imagined ‘architectural sketches’. (2013) -Unknown to both, Sarah & Amber each created a world in a matchbox every day, both projects are gorgeously done, and very distinct. (2013) -Another repeat ‘Hundred Dayer’ is Lena from Switzerland. Lena’s observational writings in 2013 and then her letters to her 16 year old self in 2014, each make for obsessive reading… –Crafterzan’s original crochet works are a wonder too, she planned out a strict schedule for each day, the result was 100 exquisite creations, each one a labour of love. (2014) –UMAL2M was a project created by the NZ organisation Diversity Works, each day a video from one person to another, telling of how much one person means to the other. An incredibly moving project full of empathy and humour. They even got the TV3 News anchors Hillary & Mike to have a go! (2014) –TF+BM ‘100 Foodie Thoughts’ – A shared project by two graphic designers, one in Auckland and one in Wellington. Each day they took turns to create typographic illustrations about food. (2014)
Any personal projects you would like to share? past, present or future?
I’m currently working on a new website for the 100 Days Project, and figuring out how to best support the project and find a way to help set it in motion so that others around the world can pick it up, spread the word and hold more local Day 100 Shows. I’ve definitely learned that it is one thing to kickstart something, and quite another to keep it going! There are other 100 Days Projects popping up around the world too now, so lots of ways that people can get into it. I’ve been thinking about an extension project of the 100 Days, it will have a simpler format, but it will rely on the neighbourly spirit of strangers in order to work. I’m fascinated by the satisfaction that is borne of creative self-expression, and the generosity of others to contribute to a public forum with their thoughts and ideas. I think we get a lot out of it. So I am exploring how to delve into this in a different way. For a long time I have kept a series of graphite drawings on the go, they offer relief for me from the rigid confines of graphic design – messy, sketches and scratchings, the drawings are slow to materialise (I don’t do many in a year – maybe 3 or 4 and they’re not always very good!) but they’re a chance to explore more personal, cultural and domestic themes. I am currently using the drawings to help discover my Samoan heritage. Working directly with my hands onto paper with pencils is very satisfying – tactile and laborious.
Wow you have a seriously impressive resume, including a TEDxAuckland talk? What have been some other career highlights?
The TEDx experience was a definite highlight! It was a life-changing experience to be honest, up until that point I had not really considered that I might have a story worth telling…and never to a room full of 2000 people, alongside scientists, poets and environmentalists. I felt very humbled to represent the visual arts that day. I was also able to poke a little (serious) fun at the male-dominated industries from which I come, which felt great! One of my favourite projects is still the public mural for 3M made out of over 8000 post-it notes for Mother’s Day. It took my team and a group of design students two whole days to complete the mural from a very precise design. It was the first time I ever I got to sit and witness first-hand the public reaction to my work. Within 24 hours the wall was full of loving notes, and people kept writing on them, even starting their own post-it murals on the surrounding glass. Better than any billboard! I think perhaps this project led to the creation of the 100 Days Project the following year – because I had seen just how ready people are to contribute and get involved in something creative. I think as designers we rarely get the big highlights, our work is mostly made up of small satisfactions. Landing on a solution to a tricky problem, a thoughtful visual idea, well executed. These are the things that I think we learn to take daily pleasure from.
What advice would you give students starting out?
Everyone’s journey seems to be different, and there is no one way to do it right. Definitely do lots of work, and focus on developing your skills for layout design, typography, generating ideas…work on it all. I think that a designer who has mastered a wide variety of execution styles will never be out of work here. I come from a time when it was too risky in NZ to be a ‘style shop’, and while I think that times have changed – I still look for proof that a designer can take any problem thrown their way and respond in an interesting, thought provoking way. When you’re starting out, trust the brains of the people around you – there’s a lot to learn from the way others respond to our work, especially our more experienced colleagues. Don’t be afraid to start the creative process. Think about kicking things off for the team with a brainstorm of ideas and thoughts, mood boards and references – you sit at the centre of the creative process, so don’t wait to be told what to do. Your team will be so grateful and you’ll evoke more discussion and ideas. Consider doing something like the 100 Days Project – it’s a great way to build up a body of work (and skill) very quickly, and it can lead you to new people, and new opportunities.
Whats on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months?
It’s very busy at Augusto, we have a small team of 3 designers, and two motion graphics designers – there’s rarely a spare moment. The work is diverse and ranges from film titles to sports marketing to product design. I’m learning that the process of creating identity design, is a good process for tackling almost any creative problem. One of the missions for my team this year is to bring another senior designer on board so that I can help better support the creative projects & opportunities that come our way. It will be a new way of working for me and requires a shift in mindset at this stage in my career, it’s an exciting time. There’s always something new to learn! The 2015 100 Days Project, start date will be announced in the next week. We’ll be kicking off in July again, keep an eye on the site and on our Facebook/Twitter feeds for more news.