top of page

Conquering Personal Project Procrastination

After joining the Business Course by The Goodship Illustration in January, I was encouraged to start a personal project, I've started MANY in the past - but sadly few have ever been completed. Like many, I really do struggle with procrastination, I can easily spend 40 minutes cleaning, or doing laundry, watering my plants or just googling! I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself down a rabbit hole, after reading some ridiculous fact! Sometimes it is quite useful but 90% of time, I know that I'm just procrastinating.

So I set myself a challenge for February: Start a personal project and FINISH IT. I kept it quite simple and something that I would enjoy a MAP.

What and why a personal project?

A personal project is an idea that you have and develop it without any obvious or financial gains, besides enjoyment and learning through doing. It can be a challenge like learning how to bake sourdough or making soap. It might cross over into hobby definition, but for creatives, I would argue that personal projects are ideas and project briefs we would love to work on but haven't been commissioned yet.

  1. Let's be honest here - the beginning of the year, it can be relatively quiet for creatives (or is it just me!) I've emailed, I've quoted but projects take time and it can be quite slow, so I commissioned myself to take on a project that would help me to grow my portfolio, develop my skills and keep my creative juices flowing.

  2. "Do the work - you want to get hired for" - I've heard this so many times, and as a new Illustrator, I haven't had tons of opportunity, a lot of my work is graphic design based, and whilst I do enjoy it, I would like to move towards illustration, so I'm making the work I want.

  3. Creativity. I have a jar with projects I would like to do and I figured it was time I did one, I had a niggle of creativity, I listened and responded.

glass jar of ideas
The Infamous Jar of Projects

The brief of my personal project:

Map my hometown, Graaff-Reinet

I was definitely one of those people who grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, counting the days till I could leave, and once I did - of course I missed it. I grew up in a small town called Graaff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. ( For all those who don't know is my home town).

map of south africa

I will forever be grateful for growing up in a small town - for all the amazing memories I have and the freedom I had growing up. In the same breath, it's a town where you'll bump into your old teacher at the supermarket, you walk around the corner to your hairdresser- get an appointment without booking and where you get a pair of free socks when you buy a pair of running shoes. But I do love it, and the older I get the more nostalgic I am of my town.

So, the brief was pretty simple, make a map of all the historic or touristy things people do in our town. As the fourth oldest town in South Africa, its' actually pretty important and has really beautiful buildings, and it's given me a new appreciation for them. Having lived there for so long, you stop noticing things like buildings and stop reading about the history. A shame on my part, because I really do think there are amazing hidden gems!

My process

As this was a personal project, I had to set boundaries for myself and add some incentives.

  1. I set a time limit of how much time I could spend on it, I didn't work on it continuously but if I added all the days, maybe two full days. I tried to work in 50 minute intervals and then left it to work on 'proper' work.

  2. If I completed the map - I would reward myself with picture book purchase ( yes yes I know - lame but I was hoping to trick my mind), but even before I finished it, I felt I didn't need the reward incentive anymore.

  3. 10% traditional mediums, 90% digital. I work in traditional mediums, and can't do anything without first sketching an idea, doing roughs - going directly to digital just doesn't work for me, but I do have a Wacom tablet, which is great for editing, cleaning and adding those details, however I know that it's a skill I need to sharpen, so I set myself a challenge here.

I started off by getting the initial idea down in my sketchbook, jotting down places, drawings and artists that inspired me with their maps.

Illustrators that inspired me

Martin Haake, is an award winning Illustrator based in Berlin, Germany. I went on a little rabbit hole dive on pinterest, and found his work. Specializing in maps, he has worked with numerous clients to create beautiful maps that tells stories and a great balance of digital illustration, but textured that it mimics the hand element.

Andre Gottschalk, is Berlin based illustrator. I actually came across his work through this portrait drawing, but his map illustrations are also really beautiful, specifically his use of pencil to create textures, to utilize the negative space to build the image.

After a little bit of research, I decided to paint all my building structures, initially I had a colour a palette, but it kinda went it's own way when I realized that I was just looking for texture, as I would add colour digitally. Gouache can add a really nice texture, but I wanted to use tempera paint with a hard brush. The texture it created was quite rough and messy.

Next I drew all the buildings, with a Koh-i-noor pencil (6B). I absolutely love this pencil, it's super chunky and great for sketching , or just to get really chunky, thick lines. Kinda makes me feel like a kid drawing with a big crayon. Line drawings are so great for practicing, and so much can be done with just a line. The more irregular and chunky the line, the better!

And then with the help of some digital editing, and adding in all the details, I made my map. Using a handwritten font that I made myself on calligrapher. I've made a few fonts which you can purchase here.

Here is a little video of my editing process...

And here is the final map,

An illustrated map of Graaff-Reinet, South Africa by Brighton based Illustrator, Ulrike Mieke

Thanks for reading along - till next month! Should I do another personal project? Would love to know your thoughts!


23 views0 comments


bottom of page