It began pretty much as a whim. I just remember thinking it might be a fun thing to do so I made an instant decision to draw a person every day for a year. My 365 Days Illustration Project started on the 12th of January 2016. Over 250 drawings later I am completely loving it and have never felt so creative in my life.
I am an illustrator and Mum, and spend almost every moment either working on my business Sam Miller Uk or with my daughter. Now no matter what other work I have to do I will always make sure I have done my daily drawing. It's like choosing to eat a delicious cake each day, as it's a real treat after doing more structured work like portraits and products plus all the home and mummy stuff (all of which I love) but there is a real freedom to this as I can do anything I like.
The characters I have drawn so far range from someone I have literally bumped into on the street, to people I know personally, to celebrities and reality show stars. I used to be a theatre designer and this project has renewed my love of costumes and fashion which has given me a new lease on life. I have also created some fantastical characters that have unconsciously popped out of my mind onto the paper, often surprising me.
My daughter has been an important part of this. She will spot people she thinks I should draw and memorise all the details with me to make sure I have everything right. I have also drawn her quite a few times during this project which has added to some special memories for us both.
Every part of this creative year so far has been inspiring and developed my skills as an artist. I have experimented with materials, ideas and techniques. Plus I now feel I have the confidence to draw anyone, so have increased my portrait work and now also do Live Illustrations at events.
There is also an emotional side to the work. It looks quite simplistic but it has a depth and honesty that often expresses emotion or humour. I am a trained art therapist so I love the freedom and release I can get through my art. At times it has felt quite cathartic particularly when something has happened to me personally or something on a news report has affected me.
It has created a lot of energy too. I just want to draw more and more, so I have incorporated other challenges like the100 Days Project, and The Sketchbook Relay and I am currently taking part in Inktober. I really enjoy these additional tasks as it is great to feel like part of something special, being done by other artists who could be anywhere, all over the world. I love to see what other people are doing. I think of it in a similar way to an athlete in a race, having people run alongside them to give them a boost. My energy will always be put into my art though, no-one deserves to see me puffing and panting through any actual race!
I have an online record of all my images on my website, and share them through social media every day so there is always something new for people to see. Even I don't know what I will do next, so hopefully it has been, and is still, an interesting journey for people to follow. This has definitely increased my profile and led to more customers and followers which has been fantastic and means a lot to me. I really thank everyone who has supported me through this.
I would recommend this sort of challenge to anyone. It has become a part of my life. Rather than feeling like I am too busy to do anything like this, it has helped me focus and prioritise my days so they are busier, but much more productive and satisfying.
I have been asked a number of times what I will do when the year is up. I really don't know. I can't imagine not having this to do each day. I would love to hear from anyone doing something similar and what your experience has been like, and I am open to suggestions for a project for next year!