30+ creative projects that deserve more attention

The theme of making art without an audience is something that comes up often in my work.

From da Vinci to Van Gogh, it is reassuring to learn that almost everyone ‘painted in the dark’ for at least part of their career.

My relationship with this is constantly changing. At first, I saw it as a necessary period to get through quickly; now I wonder if it something to relish.

Something I wish happened more was for people who have built a big audience, to pull others up with them. To use their platform to shine a light on those still in the dark.

I don’t have a big audience at all, but if I can, I want to use it do that.

So earlier this month I emailed my supporters on Patreon and readers on newsletter and asked “what are you working on right now?

I received dozens of replies and the diversity was incredible: books, comics, businesses, even a philosophical movement.

I was most touched by the quiet projects, done just for friends or even for pure personal enjoyment. Too often we think an audience is necessary to validate our work, but the collection below show that’s not true.

I thought about organising them into categories, but there’s a lovely serendipity in publishing them in random order.

SO, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, 32 INSPIRING PASSION PROJECTS THAT DESERVE MORE ATTENTION.

1 Joel D Canfield’s working on a book that I absolutely intend on reading: it’s all about resistance and the creative fight with it.

“I’ve gone from thinking small, one more nonfiction book I’ll sell a few copies of, to realizing this book should be patterned after the work of people like Malcolm Gladwell: deep, insightful, resonant, meaningful — and widely read as a result” he says.

It follows and diverges from the footsteps of Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield and is due out next year. You can read an article outlining the project here.

2 Eric Bushey’s working on some art pieces. He says he’s “trying to find the approach to digital painting that is comfortable, but not so comfortable that I’m not engaged or challenged.” I feel you, Eric.

You can check out his work here.

3Jonathan Barker’s about half way through a lovely webcomic inspired by the cartoons of his childhood. It’s called “The Amazing Cartoons” and I love what Jonathan says about his work:

“I’ve grown tremendously as an artist. Just putting one foot in front of the other and putting out work regularly has been a big challenge. Almost every page is a fight with self doubt and inner critics. But I recently read the whole thing again recently and it’s pretty great! I really care about my characters and I’d like to see them to the end of their adventure.”

What an awesome feeling that is.

4 Kim Aronson’s creating a video series called Everyday Wisdom Keepers. He says it’s about “bringing everyday wisdom out in the open.”

It’s not ready yet, but when it is you’ll find it here.

5 If you’re in the coaching or consulting business then you’ll be interested in what Claire Basiloña is up to.

She’s building a business creating animated marketing videos — and she’s offering to do a few sample videos for free! If you’re a coach or consultant you can ping her an email.

6 If you’ve ever used Vimeo you’ll probably recognise Andrea Allen’s face as the person championing the community for many years.

So I’m super excited to learn she’s building a new online film school! It’s called Smashcut and she says “it’s sort of like the online coding bootcamps. We’re creating a structured, project-based, and one-on-one mentoring program that covers screenwriting, cinematography, directing, and editing.”

How awesome’s that? And if you’re a pro filmmaker you can get involved as a paid mentor — ping Andrea an email to find out more.

7 Ammar Rehmani has something really unique: a video essay series where he explores the identity of his country, Pakistan, through art.

As someone who’s dabbled in video essays I’m really happy to see a video analysing something other than David Fincher’s use of the colour red (or similar).

Ammar takes his time to guide you through a painting and with the music it is a calming and almost sensuous watch.

He says the response has been underwhelming and he’s feeling demotivated, so if you get a moment to give this video some love, it deserves it!

8 Next up, is Sam Caudill who has started a video game company with some friends. Two years after suddenly finding himself jobless, he and his former colleagues formed Winter Bear Studio and they’ve just released a new game, Going Nuts 2.

I love this quote Sam shared with his entry, from James Allen:

“A man sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life”

9 Arcturus Dobrica is on the fifth draft of a book they have been working on for two years. They don’t say more than that except that writing it has been a great learning experience. Good luck Arcturus!

10 What Jess is doing is really interesting: she’s challenging herself to complete a new story every week, which she publishes on her slice of life fantasy web serial.

As I write there are five chapters completed and they’re really enjoyable to read, especially if you’re a fan of Japan. Jess is after anyone with a knowledge of the Japanese story structure Kishotenketsu.

Jess, I am doing the exact same thing — except with screenwriting. I think challenging yourself in this way is a great way to build momentum.

11 Brian Hermelijn is creating and selling sci-fi inspired designs on his online store.

12 Rishi Kaneria has turned footage from a recent family holiday into a film about poetry, which itself is wonderfully poetic.

He combines a reading by Carl Sandburg with music from Michael Giacchino to stirring effect. He says “I’ve learned that its just as important to create for myself as it is to create for others. That not all my projects need to have a function or objective.” I hear you, Rishi.

13 Benjamin Quinlan is immersing himself in classical visual art, from the Byzantines to the Italian renaissance. He’s even practicing draughtsmanship and sculpture, which sounds awesome.

“I have been delving into art history, and thus world history, considering the nature of civilizations” he says. You can see his work on his Instagram feed.

14 Ramya Hedge is working on a visual development project for a story she’s calling The Bully.

Ramya’s created some wonderful illustrations for the story, full of vibrant colour. I could see this as a lovely children’s book.

She’d love to hear from anyone with personal experience of bullying to expand her perspective. You can ping her an email or add her on Instagram.

15 Angela Zhang is illustrating an intriguing noir web comic with writer Seth Greenwood.

It’s called Gale and it follows a man as he tries to uncover the mystery over his father’s death.

I love Angela’s monochrome artwork and she says she wants “to reach a niche group of mature readers who share our passion for character-driven stories that have a bit of mystery, suspense and drama.” Yes!

16 I’m always impressed by the patience and persistence of long term projects, and this next one is great: Phoole has been creating a weekly live interactive music and chat show for the last four and a half years: more than 200 shows — wow.

It’s called Phoole and the Gang and the show seems to have a great rapport with its audience — who also support the show on Patreon.

17 Truly personal projects are powerful too. I’m inspired by Mark Anthony Rogers’ webcomic based on characters created by a friend.

He says he plans “on printing a small run and giving the friend some copies to have something to show for it all.”

He also shared a frame from the comic, which I like.

18 Narcissismus Decimus Maximus is deep into a graphic novel which they are working on with an illustrator.

It’s called Outlandish Curiosity, “a sumptuous adventure through a fantasy wonderland” which sound like a lot of fun.

Narcissimus says after three years working on it, the big lesson is “trust the process and the people”. Amen to that. I love this work in progress by the illustrator too.

19 Danielle Corsetto has a book coming out! It’s a hardback compendium of her comic strip Girls with Slingshots.

I have to say it looks like a beast of a book — Danielle says it contains 11 years worth of comic adventures. I think it would make a great gift.

You can sign up to hear about the book’s release right here.

20 Meanwhile David Niehaus has two graphic novels in the pipeline. The first, Rite of Passage, is an original story, and David says it “made me realize how much I enjoy scripting a story. I’ve laid out, edited, adapted, and illustrated stories before, but this is my first excursion into writing an original story.”

The second is a “20th-century, Eastern Blok adaption of Macbeth”. Super cool.

21 If Larry Herold can write plays as well as he can write pitches, sign me up for a ticket. Check this out:

“CRISIS, a new play about Margot, a female crisis expert with a couple of desperate clients. One is an American CEO caught on video in a Russian steam bath. Nothing to see here! The other is the dictator of a small island nation who has struck oil in the midst of revolution. Deadly and charming, he’s looking for love. Russian mobsters, a secret stash of gold bars and a counterfeit U.S. Senator throw Margot’s life and career into a crisis like none she’s ever faced.”

I also loved Larry’s point that not enough plays have “competent, hard-driving female leads” so he decided to write one. More please!

22 Nicole Cappelleri has spent the last year creating a streetwear brand, with the excellent name Poetic Gangster.

More impressively she’s been doing it all from her bedroom, but wants to take it to new places this year.

And she has some great advice: “Always push the boundaries and keep refining your designs. Never give up and don’t compare yourself to others.”

23 Maaja Wentz is about to publish her first novel! It’s called Feeding Frenzy and is released on the 10th March 2018.

According to her Maaja’s website, the book is a “a mashup of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stephanie Meyer’s The Host, with a pinch of Linsey Hall, and Christopher Moore.”

24 Joel Robinson is working on a documentary about the last wild grizzly bear killed in Southern California, back in 1908.

Judging by this film that Joel sent in he has a real appreciation for nature. Good luck with the documentary!

25 Edward Spek is working on a web series “about women who work from home as phone sex operators.”

He’s looking for help from a poster artist to create something to help him sell the series and attract talent to the project.

26 Meanwhile, Harry Pigot is busy teaching kids in Nepal how to code and work with electronics.

He’s creating a programme for kids from Himilayan villages and, in a really cool touch, is publishing all of his teaching material online, for free.

He says “I hope my website will inspire others to start similar initiatives.” I salute you, Harry.

27 A man after my own heart, Jay Swanson has moved to Paris where he creates a daily vlog and writes sci-fi and fantasy. After nearly 600 vlogs he is getting very good at it but they need to be seen by more people.

Jay says “I wanted to develop a better sense of vulnerability and thus self-acceptance. Or I suppose a deeper sense of self-loathing was possible, but thankfully I think it’s made me generally healthier.”

Vulnerability and self-acceptance. Thank you Jay!

28 Niki is creating a whole philosophical movement (just in case you thought you were being too ambitious!)

It’s called Zivot-Je-Hra which she says “translates from Czech as life is a game”.

“I help non-religious people in pursuit of creating a timeless body of work to connect past-present-future so that their life is meaningful to them and their body of work matters to contemporaries” she says.

Niki would love to speak to some people who “are in sabbatical or planning to take one, or they are struggling with an existential crisis, or they are in the first three years of the reinvention process, or they want to become better at the dance of flow and discipline.” You can ping her an email here.

29 Justin Michael wants to help people succeed on the web with his website Core Assistance. He’s building an audience through his Daily Tips feature, where each day of the week he shares advice on a different aspect of working on the web, from HTML to writing.

They’re all short and very practical — sign up here if you need to learn!

30 As if one teacher in Nepal wasn’t enough, Nancy Marshall is here to inspire us once more over.

She’s teaching 500 kids from remote Himalayan villages and says 60 of them need sponsors. You can email her if you can help out.

Also, Harry and Nancy, do you know each other? Sounds like you should!

31 The range of projects, public and private, has really delighted me. Elie Verbugge got in touch to say she’s been busy renovating and redesigning an old house she bought a year ago.

A nice reminder that you don’t need a big audience for a project to be meaningful.

32 And finally, Teresa Laing has wanted to create music for 30 years. Now, thanks to new technology, she’s finally been able to take the leap.

“The most important thing I have learned is that I actually CAN achieve my dream. I guess I just had to wait 30 years until the technology caught up to where I needed it to be” she says.

And she’s just published her first song on Spotify.

Thank you everyone! Let’s do this again sometime, yeah?

If you liked this, please consider supporting my work. This originally appeared here.

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/