I'm currently well into the first year following my graduation, trying to make it in the film world, an industry that maybe has a lot to do with how much you can sell yourself and forge connections with people. Having played around with the festival circuit, I've realized that I'm not particularly great at either of these, and more often than not, I will completely miss opportunities when they're presented to me. With this in mind, I've been trying to initiate projects for myself at least once a month so that I have something to show for my first year in the "real world."
As I don't always have the resources to make film projects, sometimes I've been making the best with what I do have lying around, and as I work part-time in retail, I have to make sure I use my spare time productively. One evening after work, I found a postcard of sci-fi writer John Wyndham on my desk and, knowing my dad is a big fan, decided to customize it with a Sharpie as a DIY Fathers' Day card (we don't buy greetings cards in our family). I found I actually had a whole host of these postcards of famous writers in my room and before long I'd set myself the task of covering every last one with my scribblings.
The challenge rested in making each doodle unique to the writer. With some of the authors (e.g. James Joyce), it was hard to boil their work down to key icons or images so I had to be a little more abstract in my interpretation. For others (e.g. Ian Fleming), it was impossible to be anything but literal. In every instance though, I wanted to do two things: to be fair to the author and to "fill" the space. Using a marker pen is a great discipline for this sort of side-project as it's impossible to cover up any mistakes - you'll notice quite a few wonky lines here and there. I could say something about the Japanese art of wabi-sabi or intentional mistakes in Islamic carpets here, but more straightforwardly I think it's good to show a little human error in my work, especially when working in digital media. Some of my videos play around with this idea, such as this found-footage video I made for synth-pop artist Police Academy 6.
I'm not going to pretend these doodles are elegant masterworks - they are literally the product of a few restless nights - but looking back on them, they do actually say a lot about what I want to achieve in the future. My mission statement has always been to be serious about joking around (and conversely, to joke around with the serious), and for me these postcards are something like visual puns. Many of my favorite artists and filmmakers, such as William Blake, the Chapman Brothers and David Lynch, operate heavily on this playful duality.
That this frivolous exercise has been spread around the net much more than anything else I've made has been quite heartening, and if nothing else it's given me the motivation to keep making side-projects and post them online - you never know who might see them.