• Priyadarshini Das Sharma

Challenges and Beyond

I'm a serial faffer. There. I just admitted it.

I would have written and deleted my first blog post multiple times before I settled on a topic close to my heart: my progress.

Now, you're rolling your eyes and thinking, "Why on earth do I need to read an entire blog post about your progress?" Hold that thought. It isn't really my progress that's of importance here. It's all about what brought about this progress. There were a lot of contributing factors but I'm going to talk about my favorite three.

Before I delve into how I saw this pleasant change in my art, I want to (shamelessly) share two of my earliest patterns alongside two of my latest (and favorite) ones.

a look at how my art has improved over the last 6 months
a look at how my art has improved over the last 6 months

Now that my embarrassing before pics are out of the way, let's talk about the first thing that helped me improve my art:

Instagram challenges

How many of us have participated in at least one Instagram challenge? Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about. I've taken part in about four challenges hosted by fellow designers and I’ve done a personal 100-day project with 100 patterns. Did I enjoy myself? Absolutely! Did I get anything good out of it? Definitely! Would I be doing it again? Without a doubt!

I started my personal 100-day challenge in mid-July this year. I had less than 10 followers on my new Instagram account. The only thing on my mind was that I needed some accountability as I honed my surface design skills. If that meant showing my 100 patterns to those 10 people who truly wanted to see it, so be it. Around August, I participated in the 30 Days of Patterns challenge hosted by the lovely Mable Tan.

Late in August, and again in October, I jumped in on the 3x3 Design Challenge hosted by Shannon. Another challenge that I started doing but I eventually slacked off on (though I thoroughly enjoyed it) was the 30 Days of Flowers by Lucia of Deinki.com.

I won’t be getting into the mundane details of it, but some of the obvious wins for me were:

  • New Instagram followers, that grew organically without a single sponsored or promoted post. The count went from 15 to 100 in a matter of days.

  • Along the way, I ‘met’ some wonderful people, and I got not one but two accountability partners who check in with me every few days to see what I'm working on and if I need any help. What makes having an accountability partner so important is that they always give me honest and constructive feedback.

  • Now, what's all that hullabaloo about having one style and sticking to it? Before my 100 day project, I wasn't sure what a signature style was, let alone find my unique style. I always loved experimenting with different drawing media and techniques. "One style artist" was not a term that could apply to me. Two months later, thanks to my daily practice and constantly tweaking my use of colors and my creative process, I realized there indeed is a style that appeals the most to me. Not only does it shine through in the themes I am drawn to, but also in the way I approach them and the color palettes I usually choose.

Daily Practice

Talking of practice, the challenges I participated in, and the 100 days of making patterns demanded that I get into the daily habit of sketching. In fact, I end my day planning out what I want to work on the next day. The following morning, the first thing I do is sketch my ideas out.

I'm not saying that I complete a new piece every single day. For the life of me, I couldn't be that efficient! However, I do ensure I spend at least 30 minutes a day, putting my ideas down on paper.

This daily practice is the most obvious reason for this evident improvement in the work I produce these days.

a page from my sketchbook
a page from my sketchbook

Online courses

Before May this year, I wasn't even aware of the term "surface pattern design". While I'd admired the work of a few surface designers and illustrators, I didn't know there was a name for what they did.

Enter SkillShare, and I was warmly welcomed into a world full of opportunities. I took this opportunity to learn all that I could about surface pattern design, hand lettering, Adobe Illustrator, art licensing, and the likes.

Late in September this year, I also took the Pitch Your Portfolio course by Shannon McNab and that has been a gamechanger for me. I've not only honed my skills, I've also learnt what kind of art to include in my portfolio, what markets my art is suited to, and how to find the right contacts.

So, I'm not sure I would have even started this artistic journey, had it not been for learning platforms like SkillShare and for teachers who are always ready to share their knowledge.

my four most popular designs
four of my most popular designs

I'm currently gearing up for the holiday season, and can't wait share some exciting personal projects that I'm working on. Until then, happy holidays to you!